Heliotrope Flowers: A Symbol of Eternal Love and Energy

Heliotrope, the cherry pie plant, has been a popular cottage garden flower since the Victorian era. The blossoms are prized for their delicious fragrance, perfuming the air with the scent of vanilla and, as the plant’s nickname suggests, fresh-baked pie. In the language of flowers, heliotrope symbolizes devotion and eternal love. Here we’ll take you through everything you need about the rich history and meaning of heliotrope flowers.

Heliotrope Flower Meaning, Symbolism, and Uses

Heliotrope Flower Symbolism – Key Takeaways

Heliotrope’s fragrant blossoms symbolize devotion in the language of flowers. In Greek mythology, the sun god Helios scorned the nymph Clytie. After she died of a broken heart, Helios transformed her into a heliotrope. Her flowers turn upward to follow the sun as he traverses the sky each day.

Etymological Meaning

The name ” heliotrope” comes from the Greek words for sun, helios, and turn, trepein. It refers to the flowers’ tendency to turn toward the sun throughout the day.

Another common name for the flowers, the Middle English turnsole,” also means to turn toward the sun.

Heliotrope Flower Meaning & Symbolism

Heliotrope Flower Meaning & Symbolism

Heliotrope flowers most commonly bloom in shades of purple. However, blossoms may also be blue, white, or pink. In the language of flowers, heliotrope is traditionally symbolic of eternal love and devotion.

The Cultural Significance of Heliotrope Flowers

The symbolism behind heliotrope began with a Greek myth. The water nymph Clytie was in love with the sun god, Helios. Unfortunately for Clytie, he wasn’t that into her and left her for another.

The heartbroken Clytie pined for Helios, sitting in one place and turning only her head to watch his chariot travel across the sky daily. Eventually, she wasted away, and Helios transformed her into a flower.

The heliotrope turns its “face” to follow the sun’s path, just as Clytie once did. Thus, to the Victorians, the heliotrope was a sign of devotion and eternal love.

The story has also been told and retold in poetry and art through the centuries, in works such as Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Elizabeth Colomba’s paintings, and sculpture by George Frederic Watts.

Suitable Gifting Occasions

Suitable Gifting Occasions for Heliotrope Flowers

Heliotrope is a lovely floral gift for almost any event. Its brilliant color and luscious scent make it perfect for birthdays, get-wells, congratulations, and other occasions. Heliotrope is an appropriate flower for weddings, anniversaries, and romantic gestures, too, as it symbolizes love and devotion.

The flowers can be given in bouquets or arrangements. It’s also an excellent choice for decorative pots or container gardens.


Heliotropes contribute delicious fragrance and colorful blossoms to the garden landscape. Thanks to their rich symbolism, these lovely flowers make meaningful gifts for family and loved ones.

Contributing Editor | linsay@petalrepublic.com | Full Bio

Linsay is an American copywriter based in the Pacific Northwest with a background in academic writing and research. Linsay holds Master's degree in both Anthropology and Library and Information Sciences and has written for numerous national and international publications including USA Today, SFGATE, Hunker, and The Bump across an array of topics in the gardening, green living, and travel sectors. When she's not writing, you'll usually find Linsay reading, kayaking, sailing, snowboarding, or working in her garden.

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