China is home to a rich biodiversity and a wealth of cultural traditions that are colored by the many flowers that are supported by China’s incredibly diverse ecosystems. In this guide, I’ll share 40 beautiful Chinese flowers and their symbolic meanings.
- Flower Symbolism in China and the Chinese Language of Flowers
- China’s Native Range
- 40 Popular Types of Chinese Flowers
- 1. Aster (紫菀花): Patience, elegance
- 2. Azalea (杜鹃花): Passion, womanhood
- 3. Baby’s Breath (满天星): Innocence, purity
- 4. Begonia (秋海棠): Hidden talents, wealth
- 5. Camellia (茶花): Admiration, perfection
- 6. Canna (美人蕉): Confidence, liveliness
- 7. Carnation (康乃馨): Love, affection, admiration
- 8. Cherry Blossom (樱花): Life, Beauty
- 9. Chrysanthemum (菊花): Longevity, rejuvenation
- 10. Cosmos (大丽花): Order, harmony
- 11. Daffodil (水仙花): New beginnings, good fortune
- 12. Dahlia (大丽花): Elegance, dignity
- 13. Dandelion (蒲公英): Happiness, wishes come true
- 14. Forget-Me-Not (勿忘我): True love, memories
- 15. Freesia (小苍兰): Innocence, friendship
- 16. Gerbera (非洲菊): Cheerfulness, innocence
- 17. Gladiolus (剑兰花): Strength, integrity
- 18. Hibiscus (芙蓉花): Delicate beauty, wealth, fame
- 19. Hollyhock (蜀葵花): Ambition, fertility
- 20. Honeysuckle (金银花): Devotion, everlasting love
- 21. Hydrangea (绣球花): Gratitude, heartfelt emotions
- 22. Iris (鸢尾花): Wisdom, faith, hope
- 23. Jasmine (茉莉花): Beauty, grace, sensuality
- 24. Lily (百合花): Purity, innocence
- 25. Lily of the Valley (铃兰花): Happiness, sweetness
- 26. Lotus (莲花): Purity, enlightenment, rebirth
- 27. Magnolia (木兰花): Dignity, perseverance
- 28. Marigold (金盏花): Wealth, success
- 29. Morning Glory (牵牛花): Love, affection
- 30. Orchid (兰花): Elegance, refinement
- 31. Pansy (三色堇): Loving thoughts, remembrance
- 32. Peach (桃花): Immortality, good health
- 33. Peony (牡丹): Prosperity, honor, wealth
- 34. Plum Blossom (梅花): Endurance, perseverance
- 35. Pomegranate Blossom (石榴花): Fertility, abundance
- 36. Rose (玫瑰花): Love, romance
- 37. Sunflower (向日葵): Adoration, loyalty
- 38. Tulip (郁金香): Declaration of love
- 39. Wisteria (紫藤花): Devotion, endurance
- 40. Zinnia (百日草): Friendship, endurance
- Chinese Flowers FAQs:
- Checking Out China’s Beautiful Blooms
Flower Symbolism in China and the Chinese Language of Flowers
China does not have an official system or published book on floriography (the symbolic meanings of flowers, trees, fruits, and other vegetation) like the United Kingdom’s Victorian language of flowers or Japan’s Hanakotoba. However, China does have a rich history of using flowers and other kinds of plants symbolically.
In China, various flowers are ascribed their own culturally significant symbolic meanings that can carry immense ranges of emotion in a traditional Chinese garden. Several are celebrated with their own festivals organized around their respective blooming times. Plus, in Feng Shui, different plants and blossoms, along with their unique features, colors, and symbolic meanings, can be incorporated into building and landscaping designs to improve the energy and harmony within a space or to strengthen certain aspects of one’s life.
China’s Native Range
China is an enormous country, spanning 3,200 miles from east to west and 3,400 miles from north to south. The country encompasses about 3,624,807 square miles. Occupying such a great mass of land on the continent of Asia, China covers various climate zones, including frigid, temperate, subtropical, and tropical.
The land offers plains, plateaus, deserts, forests, swamps, mountains, freshwater features, and coastal regions. These characteristics create a native range with a diverse group of complex climates, habitats, and biomes including:
- Tropical forests
- Subtropical evergreen forests
- Temperate deciduous forests
- Boreal coniferous forests
- Temperate mixed forests
- Taiga forests
- High mountains
- Mangrove swamps
With so many varied biomes, China’s ecosystems support a wealth of diverse plant and animal life in addition to a population of roughly 1.412 billion people.
40 Popular Types of Chinese Flowers
1. Aster (紫菀花): Patience, elegance
In Chinese culture, asters (flowers that belong to the Aster genus) generally have a variety of symbolic meanings, including good luck, achievement, a bright future, patience, elegance, and long-distance love. The asters that are native to China, known as Chinese asters or China asters, symbolize devotion and faithfulness. These flowers make excellent gifts for loved ones, as they can be used to show your deep devotion, recognize an achievement, or wish your recipient good luck.
|Scientific Name:||Aster spp.|
|Symbolism:||Patience, elegance, long-distance love, a bright future, wisdom, achievement, and good luck|
|Flowering Season:||Late summer to first frost|
2. Azalea (杜鹃花): Passion, womanhood
In Chinese culture, azaleas are strongly associated with home, homesickness, and thinking about home. For this reason, an azalea plant can be a thoughtful gift to send home to your parents or other family members to let them know you are thinking of them and looking forward to your next visit. While azaleas can be white, pink, orange, or yellow, red azaleas are among the most popular Chinese New Year’s flowers since the color symbolizes good fortune.
The Yi ethnic group in China celebrates these flowers with an annual Azalea Festival at Dazhu Mountain.
|Scientific Name:||Rhododendron spp.|
|Symbolism:||Passion, womanhood, and home|
|Flowering Season:||Late winter to early spring, late spring to early summer, or midsummer to mid-fall (depending on the species)|
3. Baby’s Breath (满天星): Innocence, purity
The Chinese name for baby’s breath flowers is similarly poetic to its English epithet as the word can describe either a sky full of stars or puffed, white clouds. Baby’s breath flowers are a popular component of decorations and bouquets that are gifted in celebration of the Qixi Festival in China. This festival is similar to Valentine’s Day in the West. It takes place on the Chinese lunisolar calendar’s seventh day of the seventh lunisolar month, and its purpose is to celebrate romantic love.
|Scientific Name:||Gypsophila spp.|
|Symbolism:||Innocence, purity, new beginnings, and young love|
|Flowering Season:||Summer to fall|
4. Begonia (秋海棠): Hidden talents, wealth
Begonia flowers have recently grown increasingly popular in Chinese culture due to their inclusion in the title of a hit Chinese animated series called Big Fish and Begonia. They’re celebrated from early to mid-April each year in the Begonia Festival at the Yuan Dynasty Relics Park.
In China, begonias are strongly associated with the idea of warning and precaution with a sense of caring. In other words, they can be used to show a loved one that you want them to be careful and wary of misfortune. Additionally, in Chinese culture, begonias are regarded as symbols of the shifting phases of life and the changes that come with each.
Begonias appear in a poem from the Song Dynasty by the female poet Li Qingzhao, which can be translated to English as:
“Last night the wind and rain howled,
The remnants of wine settling in me as I slept,
I asked [the servant who rolls up the curtains in my room] if the begonias were as [they were before],
Do you know, do you know, it should be that green is plentiful and red lacking.”
|Scientific Name:||Begonia spp.|
|Symbolism:||Hidden talents, wealth, caring warning, and protection|
|Flowering Season:||Summer to first frost|
5. Camellia (茶花): Admiration, perfection
Camellia plants are primarily shrubs that produce lovely, deep-green foliage and pretty, rose-like flowers in red, pink, and white shades. There are 230 accepted species belonging to the Camellia genus, most of which are endemic to China and the surrounding regions of southeastern Asia. As a result, they have a rich cultural history in the area.
The red-colored Camellia japonica is the species most commonly depicted in Chinese art since red camellia flowers are strongly associated with good luck, happiness, and protection. This camellia species also blooms near the New Year, so it’s popularly used for decorating homes to secure good fortune in the coming year.
Camellias are celebrated each year in Qintong Ancient Town at the Camellia Flower Festival, which takes place with a 10.2-meter-tall camellia tree at the center.
|Scientific Name:||Camellia spp.|
|Symbolism:||Admiration, perfection, the perfect union between lovers, and everlasting love|
|Flowering Season:||Late fall through spring|
6. Canna (美人蕉): Confidence, liveliness
Due to the similarities in their common names, canna lilies are often confused with calla lilies. Both flowers have similar names, and neither are true lilies, with canna lilies belonging to the ginger plant family and calla lilies belonging to the arum plant family. Additionally, in China, canna lilies symbolize confidence and liveliness, while calla lilies are associated with death and mourning. So, with this difference in mind, it is essential to distinguish the two blossoms, especially if you are giving a floral gift for a celebratory occasion.
|Scientific Name:||Canna spp.|
|Symbolism:||Confidence and liveliness|
7. Carnation (康乃馨): Love, affection, admiration
In China and the Western world, carnations are popular gifts for Mother’s Day because they symbolize motherly love and sincerity. In fact, carnations are also often referred to as the “mother’s flower.” Pink and red carnations, especially, are associated with mothers and their love.
Specific numbers of carnations also have different symbolic meanings in China. For example, 20 carnations symbolize unchanging love, 11 carnations represent wholehearted or deep love, and 99 carnations symbolize a person’s unending love for their mother.
It’s also important to note that white carnations symbolize mourning the loss of a mother. So, be careful to give pink and red carnations for Mother’s Day and only white carnations as a symbol of mourning.
|Scientific Name:||Dianthus caryophyllus|
|Symbolism:||Kindness, sincerity, love, affection, motherly love, and admiration|
8. Cherry Blossom (樱花): Life, Beauty
In Japan, cherry blossoms are associated with the passing of time, birth, death, spring, and renewal. In China, however, these symbolic meanings are more strongly associated with plum blossoms. In China, cherry blossoms, which arrive in springtime alongside abundant new life, symbolize beauty, feminine power, and mystique. They are more strongly associated with the ability of mothers to carry and create life rather than the transcience of life, which is the symbolic meaning of plum blossoms.
Countless cherry blossom festivals are held throughout China each year. They typically begin during the last week of March and extend into the first or second week of April when the cherry trees are in full bloom.
|Scientific Name:||Prunus spp.|
|Symbolism:||Life, beauty, and feminine power|
|Flowering Season:||Early spring|
9. Chrysanthemum (菊花): Longevity, rejuvenation
According to ancient Chinese scholars, chrysanthemums are one of four symbols of noble character, along with bamboo, orchids, and plum blossoms. Due to their long (eight weeks!) blooming season and ability to thrive during seasons when other flowers cannot, they are also seen as symbols of longevity and vitality.
Additionally, chrysanthemums are loosely associated with hermitism and solitude because they were referenced in a line from a poem on the subject written by Tao Yuanming: “I pluck chrysanthemums under the eastern hedge and gaze afar towards the southern mountains.”
Chrysanthemums are celebrated annually during the Chrysanthemum Festival in Xiaolan-Zhongshan (“chrysanthemum city”) each November.
|Scientific Name:||Chrysanthemum spp.|
|Symbolism:||Longevity, rejuvenation, vitality, tenacity, and noble character|
|Flowering Season:||Mid to late summer or early fall to winter (depending on the species)|
10. Cosmos (大丽花): Order, harmony
Cosmos plants have delicate foliage and produce abundant daisy-like blossoms throughout the summer until the first frost. The flower heads are strikingly symmetrical and beautiful in their balanced appearance. As a result, they symbolize harmony and order all around the world.
|Scientific Name:||Cosmos spp.|
|Symbolism:||Order and harmony|
|Flowering Season:||Summer to first frost|
11. Daffodil (水仙花): New beginnings, good fortune
Daffodils are considered to be the luckiest flowers for celebrating the New Year, as their early blossoms typically coincide with the lunar new year and Chinese New Year celebrations. In China, daffodils are symbols of good fortune and are thought to help attract positive energy and occurrences into the coming year.
|Scientific Name:||Narcissus spp.|
|Symbolism:||Good fortune and new beginnings|
|Flowering Season:||Late winter to early spring|
12. Dahlia (大丽花): Elegance, dignity
Dahlias come in a variety of ornamental blooms and a wide array of colors. The ornamental blossoms feature layers of geometrically arranged petals that, when traced, could resemble an intricate mandala or even artwork made with a spirograph. In China, dahlia flowers symbolize elegance, dignity, and good luck. They are also associated with the Buddha.
Traditionally, dahlias are given as gifts to elders in order to wish them good luck and happiness.
|Scientific Name:||Dahlia spp.|
|Symbolism:||Elegance, dignity, and good luck|
|Flowering Season:||Midsummer through fall|
13. Dandelion (蒲公英): Happiness, wishes come true
Thanks to the cheerful, golden-yellow color of their flowers, dandelions symbolize happiness. They are also a symbol of wishes coming true, and many believe that blowing the puffball of seeds from a spent dandelion is a time for making a wish. In China, dandelions are also symbols of courage because, regarded as weeds in many places, they can grow and thrive in almost any location and under almost any environmental conditions.
|Scientific Name:||Taraxacum spp.|
|Symbolism:||Courage, happiness, and wishes come true|
|Flowering Season:||Mid-spring to mid-fall|
14. Forget-Me-Not (勿忘我): True love, memories
Forget-me-nots have mouse-eared shaped foliage and clusters of petite, yellow-centered, five-petaled flowers. They symbolize remembrance, keeping someone in your thoughts, true love, memories, fidelity, and faithfulness. Forget-me-not flowers or seeds for planting make a good going-away gift to tell a loved one that you’ll always be thinking of them while you are away.
|Scientific Name:||Myosotis spp.|
|Symbolism:||True love, memories, fidelity, and faithfulness|
15. Freesia (小苍兰): Innocence, friendship
Freesia flowers are best known for their sweet, floral fragrance incorporated into various commercial scents, candles, perfumes, and skincare products. They also produce beautiful flowers in a rainbow of colors. Freesia flowers symbolize innocence and purity, and they’re often given as gifts or incorporated into bouquets for welcoming new babies or celebrating baptisms and weddings. Additionally, they are symbols of friendship, and freesia bouquets can be given to friends to celebrate just about any occasion.
|Scientific Name:||Freesia spp.|
|Symbolism:||Innocence, purity, and friendship|
|Flowering Season:||Late winter to early spring|
16. Gerbera (非洲菊): Cheerfulness, innocence
Gerbera daisies have cheerful, daisy-like flower heads with rows of abundant, brightly colored petals. They tend to bloom in warm shades like yellow, orange, red, and pink, which are auspicious in Chinese culture. When giving gerbera daisies as a celebratory gift, be sure to avoid choosing white blossoms since white flowers are associated with mourning and death in China.
|Scientific Name:||Gerbera spp.|
|Symbolism:||Cheerfulness and innocence|
|Flowering Season:||Late spring to first frost|
17. Gladiolus (剑兰花): Strength, integrity
Gladiolus flowers are among those incorporated in Chinese New Year celebrations. Of course, during these celebrations, the red (i.e. auspicious) varieties of gladiolus blooms are the most popular. A bouquet of gladiolus blooms is also symbolic of the Chinese phrase, 步步高陞, which roughly translates to “step up,” and is associated with the development of the self and advancing in one’s career.
|Scientific Name:||Gladiolus spp.|
|Symbolism:||Strength, integrity, self-development, and career advancement|
|Flowering Season:||Spring to early summer|
18. Hibiscus (芙蓉花): Delicate beauty, wealth, fame
Hibiscus flowers are prized in China and are commonly depicted in paintings, drawings, and on ceramics. One of the most commonly depicted hibiscus flowers is called the “mufrurong” (木芙蓉). This hibiscus symbolizes wealth and glory. It is also sometimes called the drunken hibiscus because its flower is white upon opening in the morning but turns increasingly pink (or flushed) throughout the day.
Hibiscus flowers are sometimes given as gifts to recognize the short-lived beauty that is associated with fame or glory, which tends not to be long-lasting, just like cut hibiscus flowers.
The annual Hibiscus Festival is one of the biggest celebrations that takes place on the Pacific island of Fiji. To celebrate the country’s love of the flower, the Chinese Cultural Center participates in the festivities.
|Scientific Name:||Hibiscus spp.|
|Symbolism:||Wealth, glory, fame, splendor, and delicate beauty|
|Flowering Season:||Midsummer into fall|
19. Hollyhock (蜀葵花): Ambition, fertility
Hollyhocks are flowering plants that produce tall racemes of vibrantly colored, bowl-shaped flowers in red, pink, orange, yellow, purple, and black. They are native to the Sichuan (meaning “land of abundance”) Province of China. Hollyhocks appear in the writings of Chinese intellectuals and poets, including Chen Biao, Su Shi, Li Bai, and Du Fu. Since hollyhocks can thrive in extreme conditions and environments, they symbolize perseverance, especially to the people of Sichuan.
Hollyhocks growing in the Sichuan Province and in Beijing are famous sights for individuals traveling on flower tours of China.
|Scientific Name:||Alcea spp.|
|Symbolism:||Ambition, fertility, and perseverance|
20. Honeysuckle (金银花): Devotion, everlasting love
In ancient China, honeysuckle was a cooling herb. It was used as a sort of cure-all treatment to alleviate a variety of ailments such as constipation, congestion, conjunctivitis, sore throat, and more. It was believed to have abilities to remove toxins from the body in order to promote feelings of happiness.
To see and celebrate honeysuckle plants blossoming in China, you can attend the Honeysuckle Festival of Guzhai Yao Ethnic Township in Nanning City.
|Scientific Name:||Lonicera spp.|
|Symbolism:||Devotion, everlasting love, happiness, and healing|
|Flowering Season:||Mid-spring through midsummer or fall (depending on the species)|
21. Hydrangea (绣球花): Gratitude, heartfelt emotions
In China, hydrangea flowers are often referred to as the flowers of the eight immortals because their origin story is a legend that tells the tale of eight immortals, seven of which are greatly angered at one, the Dragon King. In the story, the Dragon King offers flowers (hydrangeas) to the other seven immortals to apologize for his wrongdoings.
Throughout the summer, visitors can view immense hydrangea gardens in full bloom at various festivals, such as the Wushan Hill Hydrangea Festival.
|Scientific Name:||Hydrangea spp.|
|Symbolism:||Hope, long-term love, happy reunion, health, pride, forgiveness, apology, gratitude, and heartfelt emotions|
|Flowering Season:||Spring, summer, and early fall|
22. Iris (鸢尾花): Wisdom, faith, hope
Irises generally symbolize hope, faith, and wisdom. In China, however, irises are regarded as symbols of change, vitality, and springtime. They’re also used as an emblem of protection, as they are hung over doors on May 5th (the lunar day) to repel evil spirits and bad energy. Irises are also thought to have the power to prolong life when eaten.
|Scientific Name:||Iris spp.|
|Symbolism:||Spring, change, vitality, wisdom, faith, and hope|
|Flowering Season:||Late spring to early summer|
23. Jasmine (茉莉花): Beauty, grace, sensuality
Jasmine flowers blossom along their vines in white and delicate shades of very light pink. They have a gorgeous, sweet fragrance and are symbols of femininity, beauty, grace, sensuality, and long-lived love in China. They were often given as gifts to lovers to symbolize long-standing affection. They are also commonly found embroidered on traditional hanfu garments.
Jasmine flowers are the subject of an 18th-century Chinese folk song. Its lyrics translated to English are as follows, “What a pretty jasmine flower! What a pretty jasmine flower! Nice to see and nice to smell, praiseworthy scent, and white as well. You are what I’d like to pluck, giving other people luck. Oh so pretty, jasmine flower!”
|Scientific Name:||Jasminum spp.|
|Symbolism:||Beauty, grace, sensuality, and long-lived love|
|Flowering Season:||Spring into fall|
24. Lily (百合花): Purity, innocence
In China, lilies are a popular wedding flower and are considered auspicious for the occasion. The Chinese word for a lily translates to “harmonious union,” and giving lilies on a wedding day symbolizes a happy marriage that can last for 100 years. Lilies are also considered to be “bringers of sons,” and are often given to brides for good luck and a fertile marriage on their wedding days.
Yellow lilies represent gratitude and make good gifts for friends. Additionally, lilies paired with carnations make a suitable expression of love for mothers, and lilies paired with roses are good gifts for conveying feelings of love in a romantic relationship. Pink lilies symbolize elegant, pure love, while white lilies symbolize long-lasting love.
|Scientific Name:||Lilium spp.|
|Symbolism:||Purity, innocence, and sanctity|
|Flowering Season:||Early summer through fall|
25. Lily of the Valley (铃兰花): Happiness, sweetness
Lily of the Valley flowers has a rich symbolic history that wraps around the world. In Asia, the Japanese tradition of Hanakotoba has lent the flowers the symbolic meaning of “sweet,” and they do have a strikingly sweet fragrance. They’re also strongly associated with purity, innocence, modesty, and the Virgin Mary. Additionally, the lily of the valley is the official birth flower of the month of May.
|Scientific Name:||Convallaria majalis|
|Symbolism:||Happiness, sweetness, purity, humility, and modesty|
|Flowering Season:||Mid-spring to early summer|
26. Lotus (莲花): Purity, enlightenment, rebirth
The lotus is an aquatic plant that grows with its roots in the mud. The plants actually help to purify and cleanse the water they grow in, and, as a result, they became an important symbol of purity, enlightenment, and rebirth in Buddhist culture. Lotus flowers are some of the most commonly depicted in Chinese art, starting in the 12th and 13th centuries.
In addition to their association with enlightenment, lotus flowers also symbolize love. Two lotus flowers blossoming from a single stem represent a desire for harmony and a shared heart. As a result, they are popularly used in weddings in China.
Hundreds of lotus varieties are showcased and celebrated each June at the Guangzhou Lotus Flower Festival.
|Scientific Name:||Nelumbo nucifera|
|Symbolism:||Purity, enlightenment, and rebirth|
27. Magnolia (木兰花): Dignity, perseverance
Pronounced “mu lan hua,” the magnolia is associated with The Ballad of Mulan, a poem written around the year 400 A.D. and later adapted into the Disney movie Mulan. The association with the magnolia flower and the name of the poem’s heroine led to the flower’s symbolic meanings of dignity, honor, and perseverance, all of which are qualities exemplified by Mulan.
Magnolias blossom in early spring. As a result, they’re popular flowers for the Chinese New Year and are often incorporated into these festivals and celebrations.
|Scientific Name:||Magnolia spp.|
|Symbolism:||Perseverance, honor, dignity, female beauty, and wealth|
|Flowering Season:||Early spring|
28. Marigold (金盏花): Wealth, success
In China, marigolds are often used in New Year celebrations since their appearance (golden color and round shape) resembles coins. They’re used to decorate Lunar New Year parties to invite prosperity, wealth, success, and abundance into the new year.
Due to their resemblance to the Sun, marigolds are also associated with solar symbolism in China. As a result, they also symbolize warmth, vitality, and the Sun’s transformative powers.
|Scientific Name:||Tagetes spp.|
|Symbolism:||Wealth, success, and prosperity|
|Flowering Season:||Early summer to frost|
29. Morning Glory (牵牛花): Love, affection
In China, the morning glory flower is most strongly associated with a myth of a young boy and girl, Chien Niu and Chih Neu, who fall in love but neglect their duties as a result. They are then punished and only allowed to see each other one day each year. Morning glories, with their flowers that last for only one day, symbolize the day that these two lovers are permitted to meet. This story is also known as The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl, and the day the lovers are allowed to meet is celebrated annually with the Qixi Festival in China.
One of the Chinese names for morning glories is “quianniuhua” which translates to “lead ox flower.” This name refers to the story of a farmer who ate morning glory seeds and was cured of an illness. The farmer then led his oxen to the same fields so that they could fertilize the ground and give thanks.
Morning glory flowers are also commonly featured on Chinese porcelain works of art. The earliest records of their blue, trumpet-shaped flower heads depicted on ceramics come from the early 15th century.
|Scientific Name:||Ipomoea purpurea|
|Symbolism:||Love, affection, and marital bliss|
|Flowering Season:||Summer and fall|
30. Orchid (兰花): Elegance, refinement
In Chinese culture, orchids are symbols of refinement because the philosopher, Confucius, compared an orchid to an honorable man and described orchids as growing where other flowers can’t. For this reason, orchids are often given as gifts to friends, coworkers, and colleagues as a sign of admiration and respect. Orchids are also commonly used to decorate weddings in China because they are also associated with marriage and love.
Several orchid festivals are held in springtime in China to celebrate the blooming orchids.
|Scientific Name:||Orcgudaceae spp.|
|Symbolism:||Elegance, refinement, nobility, friendship, integrity, scholarly pursuits, love, marriage, good fortune, and wealth|
|Flowering Season:||Early spring (sometimes throughout the year, depending on the species)|
31. Pansy (三色堇): Loving thoughts, remembrance
The common name for pansy flowers comes from the French word “pensée” which means thought. This, along with their considerate, face-like flowers, lends them the symbolic association with remembrance and loving thoughts.
|Scientific Name:||Viola tricolor var. hortensis|
|Flowering Season:||Late winter through fall|
32. Peach (桃花): Immortality, good health
One of the primary maternal goddesses of traditional Chinese folk religion is the Queen Mother of the West, and she is believed to grant immortality to individuals who eat peaches from her gardens. This is depicted in the folk story Journey to the West, in which the main character steals a peach from the garden.
Peach fruits, rather than their blossoms, are commonly represented in Chinese art, especially on ceramics. They are sometimes represented on their own or in conjunction with other fruits or flowers. In these artworks, they represent longevity, immortality, and fertility.
Peaches are commonly eaten and gifted on birthdays to promote good health and long life. One of the best places to see peach blossoms in China is at the Shanghai Peach Blossom Festival, celebrated near the end of March and beginning of April every year.
|Scientific Name:||Prunus persica|
|Symbolism:||Immortality, good health, and longevity|
|Flowering Season:||Early spring|
33. Peony (牡丹): Prosperity, honor, wealth
The Chinese name for peony (pronounced “mǔdān”) means “the most beautiful.” Other Chinese names for peonies include “fùguìhuā” and “huawang” which mean “flower of riches and honor” and “king of the flowers” respectively. Peonies were China’s national flower between 618 and 907 A.D. (the Tang Dynasty). So, they can represent pride in addition to prosperity, honor, wealth, female beauty, and love. They are also a popular artistic element in classical Chinese paintings, embroidery, and other designs.
Annually, the Luoyang Peony Festival is held in the “city of peonies” from mid-April to mid-May when the peonies are in full bloom.
|Scientific Name:||Paeonia spp.|
|Symbolism:||Prosperity, honor, wealth, female beauty, and love|
34. Plum Blossom (梅花): Endurance, perseverance
Plum blossoms often begin blooming in late January and continue through March. As their flowers bravely emerge during the last weeks of winter, they are regarded as a hopeful sign of spring and cherished for their vibrancy during the bleakest time of the year. Plum blossoms are a sign of winter and herald the beginning of spring.
Plum blossoms are also the national flower of China, serving as a symbol of the country. Plum blossoms are celebrated as an essential part of the Spring Festival in Chongqing. Countless plum blossom festivals are held around China from January through March.
|Scientific Name:||Prunus domestica|
|Symbolism:||Perseverance, endurance, hope, beauty, and thriving through adversity|
|Flowering Season:||Mid-winter through early spring|
35. Pomegranate Blossom (石榴花): Fertility, abundance
In Chinese art, pomegranates and their flowers are a popular artistic motif, especially in ceramics. In these art pieces, pomegranates are symbols of abundance, fertility, prosperity, a blessed future, virtuous offspring, and numerous offspring. While you will find more and more pomegranate festivals the closer you get to their native region, the Middle East, there are festivities celebrating this fruitful tree in China, such as the Pomegranate Festival in Mengzi City, Honghe.
|Scientific Name:||Punica granatum|
36. Rose (玫瑰花): Love, romance
Around the world, roses symbolize love and all of its different forms. In China, roses also represent longevity and the eternal spring thanks to the Chinese monthly rose (Rosa chinensis) that blooms during just about every month of the year, creating a “spring” that never ends. The Chinese Rose Festival takes place each spring in Beijing and is held across 11 city parks and countless streets and alleys where more than 20 million Chinese roses plants are blossoming.
|Scientific Name:||Rosa spp.|
|Symbolism:||Love, romance, eternal spring, and longevity|
|Flowering Season:||Spring through fall|
37. Sunflower (向日葵): Adoration, loyalty
Due to their knack for following the Sun in the sky, sunflowers generally symbolize adoration and loyalty. They also represent good fortune, happiness, vitality, longevity, and intelligence in China. With lasting happiness and good luck being some of the primary symbolic meanings of sunflowers, they are popular gifts for graduations and celebrating other new beginnings.
|Scientific Name:||Helianthus spp.|
|Symbolism:||Longevity, good fortune, intelligence, vitality, happiness, adoration, and loyalty|
38. Tulip (郁金香): Declaration of love
Around the world, tulips are symbols of love. They’re native to Iran but became trendy throughout Europe starting in the 16th century. After that, they spread rapidly to become a global gardener’s staple. Two of the best places to see a spectacle of tulips blossoming in China include the Shanghai Flower Port’s annual tulip festival and the Jinzhan Tulip Garden in Beijing.
|Scientific Name:||Tulipa spp.|
|Symbolism:||Perfect love, deep love, and a declaration of love|
|Flowering Season:||Early to mid-spring|
39. Wisteria (紫藤花): Devotion, endurance
Wisteria vines are wonderous to behold when they are in bloom, as their pendulous, abundant blossoms create a dreamy ambiance as they sway from treetops, trellises, and archways. Wisteria blooms symbolize devotion and endurance. In Chinese culture, they’re also associated with success, good luck, and romance in addition to being a symbol of humility, as their pendulous flowers are thought to mimic the motions of a person kneeling or bowing in front of an individual whom they honor and respect.
|Scientific Name:||Wisteria spp.|
|Symbolism:||Good luck, success, devotion, endurance, romance, and humility|
|Flowering Season:||Spring and sometimes summer|
40. Zinnia (百日草): Friendship, endurance
Zinnias produce striking blooms with large, brightly colored flowerheads that feature an amazing combination of ray florets and central disc florets. They generally symbolize friendship but also represent endurance and lasting affection. They bloom in abundance in gardens found in China’s Henan Province and Hunan Province.
|Scientific Name:||Zinnia spp.|
|Symbolism:||Friendship, endurance, consistency, lasting affection, and the desire to reunite with a loved one|
|Flowering Season:||Summer to frost|
Chinese Flowers FAQs:
What Are Some Traditional Chinese Flowers?
Some flowers that traditionally play a role in Chinese culture include chrysanthemums, camellias, plum blossoms, lotus flowers, orchids, hibiscus, and peonies.
What Is the Prosperity Flower in Chinese Culture?
In Chinese culture, peonies symbolize prosperity, good luck, and wealth.
What Is the Chinese Flower of Immortality?
Peach blossoms are associated with immortality in China.
Does China Have a National Flower?
The plum blossom is the national flower of China.
What Color of Flower Is Lucky in Chinese Culture?
Generally, pink and red flowers are associated with good luck in China. However, golden-yellow and purple chrysanthemums symbolize good luck during Chinese New Year’s celebrations.
What Do Yellow Flowers Symbolize in Chinese Culture?
In Chinese culture, yellow flowers are associated with wisdom, fortune, wealth, prosperity, and abundance.
Checking Out Beautiful Types of Chinese Flowers
Whether you appreciate them in your home’s garden or travel around the world to see them growing in their native regions, it’s easy to appreciate the beauty and diversity of China’s many flowering plants. With a new wealth of information about the culture surrounding these types of Chinese flowers and their symbolic meanings, you can now deepen your appreciation of the incredible biodiversity offered by this large country in Asia.
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.