The Myrtle Flower: A Tapestry of Meaning, Symbolism, and Cultural Lore

Not to be confused with the Crepe Myrtle, the true Myrtle flower (Myrtus) is a charming genus of flowering plants rich in history and symbolism. Much of Myrtle’s symbolism is drawn from its years of medicinal and food use. In this guide, I’ll run through everything you need to know about myrtle flower meaning and their cultural significance worldwide.

Myrtle Flower Meaning, Symbolism, and Uses

Myrtle Flower Symbolism – Key Takeaways

With an enduring symbolic meaning of love and devotion, the Myrtle flower has religious connotations that have lasted for centuries. It’s also an essential part of Ancient Greek mythology and symbolism. Myrtle flowers are also widely used in marriage bouquets and floral arrangements today.

Etymological Meaning

Myrtle Meaning & Symbolism

The name Myrtle remains relatively unchanged and is associated only with the plant for many centuries, all the way back to ancient Greece. The Greeks picked up the root for the word from ancient Semitic sources that shared the same root as myrrh, the tree resin used for ritual purification. 

There is no connection to other plants sharing the name, such as Crepe Myrtle.

Common Myrtle Flower Colors and Their Meaning

Myrtle flowers are almost all white or cream-colored. In the language of flowers, Myrtle’s color profile symbolizes purity, hope, and rebirth. 

It’s also fitting for their devotional and romantic meanings, which have persisted since Ancient Greece.

The Myrtle Flower and Queen Victoria

In the Victorian era, the “language of flowers” (also known as “floriography“) was a popular way to convey secret messages and sentiments without the use of words. Flowers, plants, and specific floral arrangements expressed feelings that society might have considered inappropriate or too forward to state openly.

In the Victorian language of flowers, the myrtle flower symbolized love and affection. People associated it so closely with love and marital fidelity that brides would often include myrtle in their bouquets, and Queen Victoria herself included a sprig of myrtle in her wedding bouquet. Other royal brides have continued this tradition over the years.

In addition to its connections with weddings, myrtle was believed to bring good luck and happiness to the home, making it a cherished plant in many Victorian gardens.

Myrtle Flowers in Greek Mythology

The Cultural Significance of Myrtle Flowers

The oldest meanings ascribed to the Myrtle plant come from Ancient Greece. The flower was considered sacred to Aphrodite, which gives it a potent layer of love symbolism. 

Garlands of the foliage and blooms were also sacred to the goddess Demeter. This shared symbolism connected farming with romantic love through their common theme of devotion. 

Even today, Myrtle is commonly used at weddings and anniversary parties alike to symbolize loyalty and commitment. This is true in multiple cultures, including Greek and Jewish traditions.

Myrtle Flowers in Judaism

In Judaism, Myrtle is one of the four species of plants used to celebrate the festival of Sukkot. It’s a holiday commemorating the agricultural cycle that ancient Jewish field workers followed. 

That means it’s not surprising that fragrant and attractive Myrtle branches are part of the symbolism of the event. Myrtle, in particular, plays such an important role because it is mentioned in Zechariah 1:8 in the Torah. It’s part of the story of a prophet of God who is described as standing in a grove of Myrtle trees. 

The religious symbolism of this plant has expanded to include watchfulness, devotion to faith, and the endurance to withstand challenges. Other religious sources link Myrtle’s fragrance to the spreading of good works in the world, making the plant a symbol of purity and goodwill.

Ceremonial and Spiritual Uses of the Myrtle Flower

Myrtle is used in wedding bouquets throughout Europe. Various folklore explanations hint at a common symbolism of romance, devotion, and love. 

Some modern spiritual movements use the Myrtle flower to symbolize purification and rebirth. Its fragrance is commonly used in women’s perfumes and even some unisex fragrances. 

As a name for fictional characters, it’s found in works of literature from The Great Gatsby to Meet Mr. Mulliner by P. G. Wodehouse.

Suitable Gifting Occasions

Suitable Gifting Occasions for Myrtle

You most commonly use Myrtle for wedding decorations and bouquets because it has a strong association with romance and love. However, it’s also suitable for anniversary gifts and other flower arrangements for romantic and devotional occasions. 

Thanks to the white color of the flowers offering a subtle meaning of purity and rebirth, it can also be an excellent floral gift for someone starting something new.

Myrtle Flower Meaning – Wrapping Up

Myrtle only grows in certain climates and soil types, but it’s a great addition to any yard or garden. Homeowners enjoying the blooms can also sample the berries or season with the leaves to make the most of the plant. Of course, a sprig of blooming Myrtle flower is rich in meaning and symbolism and a great way to show your love to someone as well.

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