Lantana flowers symbolize rigor and rigidity. However, they offer dazzling blossoms, playful colors, and lush foliage and attract pollinators into the garden, making them anything but severe. Here, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the Lantana flower’s meaning and symbolism in the language of flowers.
Lantana (Lantana camara) Meaning – The Essentials
In the language of flowers, lantana flowers symbolize rigor, which has several meanings of its own, including demanding, difficult, extremely accurate, thorough, or exhaustive. It can also mean stiffness, rigidity, severity, or strictness.
Etymological Meaning of Lantana camara
Each piece of the plant’s botanical or scientific name, Lantana camara, has its origin.
“Lantana” refers to the Viburnum lantana (wayfaring tree) producing similar-looking flowers. “Camara” comes from the Greek word chambered, vaulted, or arched.
Commonly, Lantana camara is referred to as common lantana or Spanish flag in addition to red sage, wild sage, West Indian lantana, and umbelanterna. It also has a variety of common names from around the world:
- Big sage (Malaysia)
- White sage (Caribbean)
- Korsu wiri or korsoe wiwiri (Suriname)
- Tickberry (South Africa)
- Kashi kothan (Maldives)
- Putus (Bengal)
- Gu phool (Assam)
- Thirei (Manipur)
History and Origins of Lantana Flowers
Common lantana was first introduced to Europe by Dutch explorers. Subsequently, it was enthusiastically cultivated across the continent where it spread to Asia, the Middle East, Oceania, and Africa. Naturalized, it now grows wildly in about 60 tropical and subtropical countries worldwide.
Despite its attractive flowers, common lantana is considered to be a noxious weed in many places, as it has outcompeted native plant species and reduced biodiversity in several regions.
The Meaning, Symbolism, and Cultural Significance of Lantana Flowers
Common lantana symbolizes rigor, and rigor can mean several different things depending on which of its definitions you take.
These meanings include being accurate, thorough, or exhaustive. It can mean being demanding or difficult. Rigor can also mean having the quality of stiffness, rigidity, severity, or strictness.
The Symbolic Meaning of Different Common Lantana Colors
When combined with various flower color symbolism, common lantana takes on more specific symbolic meanings while still being associated with its traditional representation of rigor.
- Pink – Pink flowers symbolize grace, gentle affection, happiness, and gentility.
- Red – Red flowers have a strong symbolic association with feelings of romantic love. They can also symbolize courage, respect, admiration, and constancy.
- Orange – In flowers, orange usually represents passion, fervor, excitement, and energy.
- Yellow – Yellow can be representative of cheerfulness, success, or friendship.
- White – White flowers traditionally symbolize innocence, purity, reverence, humility, and sympathy.
With a common lantana flower, these colors could mean being rigorous with respect to grace and gentle affection, romantic love, passionate love, friendship, and cheerfulness, or purity and innocence.
Common Lantana and Its Symbolism
Lantana camara is hardy. It contracts few plant diseases, does not fall prey to fungi, and most pests do not affect it. Interestingly, it can survive fire and tolerate long periods of drought. It drops seed banks in the form of fruit, and it can sprout from basal shoots in the ground. In short, common lantana is difficult to kill.
As a result, common lantana has become an invasive species in many parts of the world, Australia in particular, where it has harmed the continent’s biodiversity by overtaking several native species. Although beautiful, common lantana is considered to be a weed in many parts of the world, where it has become a monster of a plant.
Lantana Flowers in Greek Mythology
The Lernaean Hydra was a snake-like monster that had nine heads, one of which was immortal, and it terrorized the people of Lerna. Whenever anyone tried to kill the hydra by cutting off a head, each lost head would be replaced by two more.
Common lantana is similar to the hydra in that it also sprouts multiple new shoots when one shoot is cut off. So, you cannot kill a common lantana plant by cutting it at the base of its stem; it will only produce multiple new shoots and grow back larger and stronger than before.
In some ways, common lantana is more terrible than the hydra. For example, it cannot be killed with fire. When Lantana camara burns in a forest fire or intentionally in an effort to eliminate or control its spread, it produces several new plant shoots from its basal root system under the ground, where fire can’t reach it.
It also protects itself from eradication with the multiple seeds that are dropped and spread in the clusters of berries common lantana plants produce.
Common Lantana in the Victorian Language of Flowers
Floriography, more commonly known as the Victorian Language of Flowers, attributed just about every type of flower with a symbolic meaning, which could be conveyed by gifting someone a bouquet of carefully selected blossoms.
In the Victorian Language of Flowers, and today, common lantana symbolized rigor.
Religious Significance of Lantana camara
In the African diasporic religion formed in Brazil known as Candomblé, common lantana with yellow-colored flowers represent Oxum, the goddess of rivers. At the same time, white lantana flowers represent Oxalá, the god of the sky who represents purity.
Lantana Flower Meaning (Lantana camara) FAQs
Is lantana poisonous to humans?
Lantana is toxic to humans and animals. No fatal cases of toxic ingestion in humans have been recorded as have been with animals.
Do hummingbirds like lantana?
Yes, lantana flowers attract both hummingbirds and butterflies.
What do lantana flowers symbolize?
Lantana flowers symbolize rigor or severity.
Rigor at Heart, Beauty in the Garden
With its resilient nature, common lantana makes an easy addition to just about any garden or container, and it’s perfect for supporting the pollinators in your neighborhood. Just be careful to plant it in a location where it won’t be able to spread and overtake the native vegetation.
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.