When it comes to showy spring blooms, the crown imperial (Fritillaria imperialis) stands out. With their large, bell-shaped, red and orange flowers nodding atop tall stems, these exotic-looking flowers can be show-stoppers in the spring garden. But Crown Imperial flowers aren’t just gorgeous; they’re rich in history and symbolism, too. In this guide, I’ll run through everything you need to know about the Crown Imperial flower’s meaning in the language of flowers.
Crown imperial flowers belong to the Fritillaria genus, which contains more than 130 species of flowering bulb perennials. Flowers in this genus tend to be bell-shaped and nodding; many resemble lilies.
As their name would suggest, the crown imperial has a majestic history. The name Fritillaria comes from the Latin for “dice cups,” and is thought to be a reference to the cup-like shape of the flowers. The species name, imperium, comes from the Latin for “empire” and refers to the crown of tufted bracts that rides above the flowers.
In the flowers’ native Iran, they’re known as “overturned tulips.” Here, they’re called the “Tear of Siavash,” it’s said that the flowers are weeping and bowing their heads in sorrow at the death of the mythological figure Siavash. The plants are memorialized in ancient carvings and architectural features.
The Meaning & Symbolism of Crown Imperial Flowers
Christians created their own legends around the crown imperial. Religious folklore said that the flowers refused to genuflect when Jesus passed by them. An angel then shamed them, and in response, they bowed their heads for all time.
The flowers are thought to have been introduced to Europe in the 1500s by the Flemish botanist Carolus Clusius. His unusual plant collection still exists in Leiden University’s gardens in the Netherlands. Two centuries later, crown imperials had spread around the continent and became a popular flower.
Crown Imperial Symbolism in Floriography:
In the Victorian era, the flowers took on even more meaning. Floriography — or the language of flowers — assigned symbolism related to majesty and class. These flowers carried the following symbolic meanings:
Royalty and Nobility:
Crown Imperial is often seen as a symbol of royalty, power, and authority. Its tall stature, vibrant colors, and distinctive crown-like shape of flowers evoke a sense of regality and grandeur.
Prestige and Grandness:
The majestic presence of the Crown Imperial symbolizes prestige and grandness. The impressive height and bold colors of its flowers make it a striking addition to any garden or floral arrangement.
Leadership and Strength:
Crown Imperial represents leadership and strength. Its upright growth and commanding presence symbolize confidence, determination, and the ability to take charge.
Additionally, Crown Imperial is believed to possess protective qualities. It is seen as a guardian flower that wards off negative energies and brings good luck and blessings.
Resurrection and Rebirth:
Crown Imperial’s appearance in early spring is often associated with the symbolism of resurrection and rebirth. Its emergence from the ground after winter represents the renewal of life and the arrival of a new season.
Crown Imperial Flowers – Wrapping Up
Crown imperial flowers certainly live up to their name. Clusters of warm-toned, cup-shaped flowers are topped with a dramatic “crown” of tufted foliage, creating an eye-catching look for your garden. The plants’ rich history and symbolism, along with their dramatic appearance, make F. imperialis a symbolic and lovely choice for the spring landscape.