In this guide, I’ll take you through everything you need to know about the Official August Birth Month Flowers – the Gladiolus and Poppy. Learn about their meaning and symbolism in the language of flowers and their cultural significance around the world today.
August Birth Month Flowers: The Gladiolus
History and Origins of the Gladiolus Flower
Gladiolus flowers are perennials native to tropical areas and parts of the Mediterranean, Middle East, and South Africa. The genus name Gladiolus originates from the Latin word gladius, which translates to “sword” and refers to the sword-like shape of their leaves. Because of this, gladiolus flowers are also called sword lilies. Another known name is corn lily.
The Gladiolus genus has around 300 known species, and the majority are endemic to South Africa. In the 18th century, African Gladiolus plants first came to Europe from South Africa. To this day, these impressive flowers, available in a wide array of colors and hybrids, can be found worldwide.
A considerable part of the history of gladiolus revolves around the plant’s medicinal value. As early as the 16th century, gladiolus plant parts such as the roots, flowers, and seed pods were herbal remedies against splinters, colic, and physical ailments.
Gladiolus Flower Meaning and Symbolism:
The official birthday flower for August is the gladiolus flower. But did you know this beautiful bloom is also the 40th Anniversary flower since it symbolizes remembrance and infatuation?
Gladiolus flowers hold different meanings. Aside from remembrance and infatuation, gladiolus generally means strength and integrity because of the flower’s association with gladiators. Also, since gladiolus plays an essential role in traditional medicine, the flower symbolizes healing. However, these meanings vary depending on the flower’s color.
Red gladiolus flowers represent romance, love, and affection, much like other famed red flowers. Pink gladiolus flowers are often associated with romance but to a less passionate extent. Yellow Gladiolus, on the other hand, means friendship, joy, and positivity.
Gladiolus in purple hues represent royalty, beauty, and fortune, making these flowers ideal gifts for friends, colleagues, and family members you admire.
The August birth flowers also come in white shades, often symbolizing purity and innocence. Because of this, you often see them in wedding bouquets and arrangements.
For more, see our in-depth guide to gladiolus flower meaning and symbolism.
August Birth Month Flowers: The Poppy
History and Origins of the Poppy Flower
August babies have another birthday flower – the poppy. Poppies are popular herbaceous ornamental plants grown for their striking flowers.
Poppies are members of the Papaveraceae family, which includes various flowering plants and shrubs. The common poppy belongs to the genus ‘Papaver,’ which includes nearly 100 species of flowering plants.
The poppy gets its name from the Latin word ‘pappa” meaning milk. This is about the cut flower stems that leak a sticky, latex sap that looks like milk.
Poppies also have a long and storied heritage in medicinal use. Extracts from the Opium poppy (Papaver ‘somniferum’) are used to make a class of drugs called opiates which includes opium, heroin, morphine, and codeine.
These drugs provide pain relief and are effective in the proper doses and under medical supervision. The Ancient Egyptians chewed poppy seeds to relieve pain.
Poppy Flower Meaning and Symbolism:
The plant has a rich history in many cultures across the globe. Back in the day, poppies were used by the Greeks and Romans as offerings to the dead.
A Symbol of Remembrance
The poppy came to be the symbol of remembrance of those who gave their lives in WWI after the publication of the poem “In Flanders Field” written by Lt. Colonel John McCrae.
John MaCrae was a Canadian brigade surgeon who treated the wounded after the release of chlorine gas by the German forces.
Although the land was destroyed and 87,000 allied soldiers lost their lives in northern France and northern Belgium (Flanders) during that battle, the following spring the land came alive with bright red poppies, inspiring MaCrae to write the touching poem “In Flanders Field”.
Poppy Flower Meaning in French Culture
Anna Guerin from France quickly championed the red poppy as the symbol of remembrance and worked to establish a National Poppy Day. Typically this day is celebrated on November 11, also known as Armistice or Remembrance Day. In the US, the poppy is typically worn on Memorial Day in May.
The California State Flower
The California poppy is the state flower of California. This golden poppy grows wild throughout the state and is known as “the flame flower” or “cup of gold.”
In fact, California celebrates an entire week (May 13th to May 18th) as Poppy Week and designates April 6th as California Poppy Day.
Poppy Flower Symbolism in the Language of Flowers
In the language of flowers, red poppies symbolize happiness, while yellow poppies mean prosperity. White poppy flowers, as with other white blooms, symbolize consolation and sympathy. There are also purple poppies, which represent enchantment.
For more, see our in-depth guide to poppy flower meaning and symbolism.
Other Popular Flowers That Bloom in August
In addition to the gladiolus and poppy, you still have many options for in-season flowers in August. Here are some of the most popular ones: dahlias and Peruvian lilies.
Native to Central America and Mexico, dahlias are a recognized ornamental from the family of sunflowers, chrysanthemums, and daisies. Not only are they the official flower of the City of Seattle, but interestingly, they are also associated with many different meanings and symbolism. Dahlia flowers symbolize elegance, inner strength, dignity, and creativity. They also symbolize diversity and commitment.
Peruvian lilies, also known as Lily of the Incas or Alstroemeria, are popular flowers that add vivid colors during summer. Available in a myriad of colors, such as pink, yellow, orange, and white, these flirtatious blooms are the perfect favorite gifting flowers for any occasion. They commonly represent devotion and friendship.
Why Are There Two Birth Month Flowers in August?
August is represented by two birth flowers: the Gladiolus and Poppy. While there isn’t a single reason why some months have more than one birth flower, several factors contribute to this phenomenon.
The most likely common reason for the two birth month flowers in August can be attributed to folklore and cultural variances across regions and countries over time. Various traditions of assigning flowers to birth months have developed. These traditions can depend on the local climate, which influences what flowers bloom during a particular month, as well as local folklore and customs.
Moreover, different flowers carry different meanings in the language of flowers, a symbolic system that was particularly popular during the Victorian era. Two flowers for one month allow for a richer range of symbolic expressions.
What are the Origins of August Birth Month Flowers?
The tradition of August birth flowers is thought to have originated in ancient Rome, where flowers were given as gifts to celebrate birthdays and other special events. Each month was associated with a particular flower, believed to hold specific characteristics or powers that would be imparted to people born in that month.
The specific flowers associated with each month have varied throughout history and between cultures. For example, some cultures in the Middle Ages used the symbolic language of flowers, called floriography, to communicate coded messages based on the type and color of the flower given. This practice continued into the Victorian era when the language of flowers became extremely popular and complex.
Like many traditions, the current list of August birth month flowers that we use today has been influenced by various historical and cultural factors. It’s similar to birthstones, where each month is associated with a specific gemstone.
For more, see our in-depth guide to the Official Birth Month Flowers.
The Official Birth Month Flower Calendar:
|Meanings & Symbolism:
|Carnations & Snowdrop
|Pink Carnations (love and appreciation), White Carnations (luck, love, and affection, Red Carnations (love and friendship). Snowdrop (hope and rebirth).
|Violet, Iris, and Primrose
|Violets (faithful love, truth, loyalty, humility), Iris (hope, faith, passion, purity, and innocence), Primrose (affection, young love, undying affection)
|Daffodils (new beginnings, faithfulness, luck, prosperity, and hope)
|Daisy & Sweet Pea
|Daisy (purity, love, new beginnings, fertility, and motherhood). Sweet Pea (blissful pleasure, gratitude).
|Lily of the Valley & Hawthorn
|Lily of the Valley (romance, luck, happiness, purity, humility). Hawthorn (hope, love, beauty, fertility, and supreme happiness).
|Roses & Honeysuckle
|Roses (love, passion, romance, purity, gratitude). Honeysuckle (happiness and eternal love).
|Larkspur & Water Lily
|Larkspur (happiness, love); Water Lily (enlightenment, resurrection, purity, beauty, creation).
|Gladiolus & Poppy
|Gladiolus (integrity, honor, respect); Poppy (remembrance, prosperity, enchantment, sympathy).
|Aster & Morning Glory
|Aster (faith, love, achievement, and wisdom); Morning Glory (affection, intimate love, patience).
|Marigolds & Cosmos
|Marigolds (devotion, commitment); Cosmos (harmony, love, innocence, beauty, modesty, joy, and balance).
|Chrysanthemum & Peonies
|Chrysanthemum (friendship, love); Peonies (romance, prosperity, good fortune, honor, and compassion)
|Narcissus, Poinsettia, and Holly
|Narcissus (innocence and purity); Poinsettia (success, celebration); Holly (happiness and optimism).
The official August birth flowers, Gladiolus and Poppy, reflect the warmth and splendor of summer with their dazzling colors and meaningful symbolism. Each flower’s unique characteristics is essential to August’s birth month flower story.
For more, see our in-depth guide to the best birthday messages and quotes to share with friends, family, and loved ones.
Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.