camellia flower meaning

Camellia Flower Meaning and Symbolism

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Native to China, the camellia flower has a rich history and an even more vibrant cultural significance. The flower grows wild in the southwestern region of the country and is also well-respected in Japan and other nations.

This flower holds multiple meanings besides its inherent beauty. Commonly chosen as a tattoo symbol and even as an ornamental flower, this beautiful planet is entrenched in hidden meaning.

What Does Camellia Mean?

In Latin, the word “camellia” translates to “helper to the priest.” The flower was named after the Jesuit botanist Father Georg Joseph Kamel, a man who practiced botany for pharmaceutical purposes in the 1600s.

Kamel worked extensively in the Philippines, where he dedicated much of his life and his work to creating new medicinal treatments from plants. 

What Does the Camellia Flower Symbolize?

The camellia flower symbolizes love, devotion, affection, and admiration. Found in multiple colors, camellia plant holds significant value in cultures all around the world.

The flower can also symbolize refinement, perfection, and faithfulness, depending on the color and context of the bloom.

In Japan, the camellia flower is often used in religious ceremonies, as it symbolizes divinity. In Korea, it is also viewed as a symbol of faithfulness. In Victorian England, camellias were used to send the message that the recipient was adorable. 

What Does a White Camellia Flower Mean?

A white camellia flower generally represents purity or good luck. It can also represent the love between a mother and child and is often used in mourning arrangements as a result.

White camellias are also mentioned repeatedly in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. In the novel, one of the main characters, Jem, cuts the camellias growing in the garden of an intolerant, racist old lady.

The woman eventually passes away, but not before revealing to Jem that she has been struggling with a morphine addiction. When she dies, she leaves Jem a box with a white camellia, symbolizing her patience and understanding. 

What Does a Red or Pink Camellia Flower Symbolize?

Pink or red camellia flowers can symbolize romantic love, passion, longing, or desire. 

What is the Cultural Significance of the Camellia Flower? 

In China, the camellia flower is traditionally viewed as a union between two lovers. The delicate petals represent the woman while the green, leafy portion of the stem that holds the petals together, known as the calyx, represents the protective man. Both components are joined together, even after death.

The meaning here has to do with the unique nature of the camellia flower. When a flower dies, the petals and calyx usually separate. With the camellia, however, the petals and calyx fall away together  – a symbol of undying, everlasting love.

There are more than 40,000 registered cultivars of camellia and it is the official state flower of Alabama. 

What is the Symbolism of a Camellia Tattoo?

If you are considering getting a camellia tattoo, it’s probably not just because you think it would be beautiful (although it will be, of course). Most people get camellia tattoos as representations of longing, passion, desire, and perfection.

However, various colors can hold different meanings. Pink camellias usually represent longing, while white is more innocent in its symbolism. A camellia flower of any color can also symbolize gratitude, love, or devotion, too. 

When Should You Give Someone a Camellia Flower?

Camellia flowers are appropriate in most settings. If you choose a pink or red flower, be aware that you may be signaling the romantic intentions of the recipient! However, white blooms are acceptable as gifts in most cases, as they usually symbolize patience and faithfulness.

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