The Meaning, Symbolism, and Cultural Significance of Bells of Ireland Flowers

Bells of Ireland flowers (Moluccella laevis) have striking branches of cup-shaped calyces that encircle perfectly delicate white flowers. They’re lovely to look at and are a popular accent for bouquets and dried floral arrangements. This guide will take you through everything you need to know about Bells of Ireland flower meaning and symbolism in the language of flowers.

The Symbolic Meaning of Bells of Ireland Flowers – The Essentials

In the language of flowers, Bells of Ireland most commonly symbolize good luck. They also carry the meaning of abundant wealth. Although they are not native to Ireland, they are associated with the country thanks to the plant’s vibrant green color and common name.


About Bells of Ireland Flowers

About Bells of Ireland Flowers

Taxonomy

Commonly referred to as bells of Ireland, Moluccella laevis is one of eight accepted species of flowering plants that belongs to the Moluccella plant genus within the Lamiaceae (mint/sage/deadnettle) plant family. Other common names for the plant include Molucca balm, lady in the bathtub, and shellflower.

Botanical Characteristics

Bells of Ireland can grow to be about three to four feet tall and spread about one foot in diameter. They produce long branches of flower spikes that are entirely covered with attractive, tubular, bell-shaped calyces in a shade of bright apple green. 

The calyces surround tiny (notably less impressive) white flowers. Though small, the flowers are fragrant and emit a sweet, minty, and slightly citrus-like scent. The stems of this plant produce small, sharp thorns, which can make the plant difficult to handle.

History and Origins of Bells of Ireland

History and Origins of Bells of Ireland

Despite what the plant’s common name suggests, bells of Ireland are not native to Ireland. Instead, their native range spans western Asia and Turkmenistan, with plants growing naturally in Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, Transcaucasus, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, and Iran.

The plants have been widely introduced and naturalized in areas worldwide, including northeastern Argentina, central Mexico, Venezuela, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Krym, Tunisia, Kenya, Morocco, Ukraine, western Russia, and Ontario. In the United States, bells of Ireland have been introduced to several states, including Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Texas, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and New York.

Etymological meaning

The genus name Moluccella refers to Indonesia’s Moluccan Islands, where bells of Ireland plants were initially thought to come from. The species epithet laevis is Latin for smooth or smoothed and might refer to the smooth texture of the plant’s calyces.

Although it’s not certain, the common name “bells of Ireland” is assumed to be a reference to the vibrant green color of the plant’s calyces, a color that is often associated with Ireland and its culture.

Uses and Benefits

Bells of Ireland are primarily ornamental plants. They are grown in borders and beds and are popular in cutting gardens for use in bouquets and dried floral designs.

In the garden, their small yet fragrant blooms attract bees and butterflies.


The Meaning, Symbolism, and Cultural Significance of Bells of Ireland Flowers

The Meaning, Symbolism, and Cultural Significance of Bells of Ireland Flowers

Bells of Ireland Flower Colors and Their Meaning and Symbolism in the Language of Flowers

Bells of Ireland produce white flowers with green calyces. So, the two primary colors associated with these blooms are green and white. In the language of flowers, these colors have their own symbolic meanings that can be combined with or considered along with the primary symbolic meaning of bells of Ireland flowers (good luck and abundant wealth).

In the language of flowers, the color white represents innocence and purity, making it a common flower color choice for wedding celebrations. White can also symbolize mourning and sympathy, so it’s also commonly used in floral arrangements for funerals.

Green flowers most commonly symbolize renewal, rebirth, good health, and good fortune. Green can also be associated with youthfulness or naivety.

Bells of Ireland and Irish Wedding Traditions

As they do in just about every culture of the world, weddings hold an important place in Irish culture. As a result, several traditions are incorporated into Irish wedding ceremonies for good luck. This includes the bride and groom carrying various symbols of good luck, such as horseshoes, shamrocks, and bells of Ireland flowers.

Bells and ringing bells are also an important part of the ceremony, as ringing a bell is thought to keep evil spirits and bad luck away. Bells are also believed to ward off any discord in a marriage. Since bells of Ireland flowers are symbols of good luck and are bell-shaped, they are commonly included in Irish wedding ceremonies.

Celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day

Celebrating Saint Patrick's Day

Along with shamrocks and four-leaf clovers, bells of Ireland have a significant place in celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day and the “luck of the Irish” since they symbolize good luck and abundance. When gifting or displaying bells of Ireland on Saint Patrick’s Day, remember this saying that’s quite suitable for the occasion, “For each flower on Bells of Ireland, this brings a wish your way: good health, good luck, and happiness for today and every day.”

In fact, Saint Patrick’s Day is also the perfect time of the year to start growing bells of Ireland from seeds indoors. So, you can also celebrate Saint Patrick’s feast day by planting a packet of bells of Ireland seeds that you’ll soon be able to move to your garden and enjoy come summer.


Suitable Gifting Occasions for Bells of Ireland Flowers

Suitable Gifting Occasions for Bells of Ireland Flowers

Bells of Ireland look beautiful in just about any floral arrangement. With the positive symbolism of good luck or abundant wealth, they make a great gift for just about any celebratory occasion when it would be appropriate to wish your recipient good luck or abundant wealth and success.

Some great occasions for gifting bells of Ireland include celebrating a graduation, a new job, promotion, a birthday, going away, moving, an engagement, or a wedding. With their Irish colors and association with good luck, bells of Ireland also make an excellent gift for anyone who especially enjoys celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day.


Bells of Ireland Flower FAQs:

What Do Bells of Ireland Flowers Symbolize?

Bells of Ireland symbolize good luck.

Bells of Ireland do not symbolize love, but they symbolize good luck and can sometimes also represent an abundance of wealth.

Bells of Ireland are annual plants, meaning they do not regrow and rebloom every year. They are, however, self-sowing. If the plants are left in place and allowed to go to seed, they will resow themselves and grow new plants the following season.

Bells of Ireland flowers last about seven to 10 days in a vase, and their green calyces can stay fresh for up to two weeks.

Bells of Ireland are not toxic.


Wishing You Good Luck With the Bells of Ireland

With their showy spikes of bright-green calyces, bells of Ireland are beautiful to look at, and the fragrance of their flowers is wonderful to breathe in. So, you can enjoy all the good luck they bring (or at least represent) by planting them in your garden, sowing them indoors, or enjoying them in a cut floral arrangement.


Editorial Director | Full Bio | + posts

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.

Author

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.

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