hollyhock symbolism

Hollyhock Flower Meaning and Symbolism

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Hollyhock flowers are a popular flower in many garden beds and landscaping. The beautiful round heads of the flowers come in many different color varieties and will tower above the rest of your flowers.

These beautiful, tall-blooming flowers have an old history they’ve been around for a very long time!  Many hollyhock plants have been passed down from generation to generation through the seeds of previously grown plants truly a piece of history. 

After a period of time, many flowers develop a meaning, or become a symbol for different meanings, so what is the hollyhock flower meaning?

What Does Hollyhock Mean?

A widely cultivated perennial herb, the hollyhock plant is also known as Alcea. Alcea is a genus of roughly 60 species of flowering plants in the mallow family, Malvaceae, that are native to Europe and Asia. 

Commonly cultivated as ornamental plants, the roots of hollyhocks are often used medicinally while the stems are sometimes used as firewood.

The word hollyhock is denoted from the Middle English words “holy” plus the old word for “mallow,” which was “hock.” The second part of the name is simple and easy to decode, since hollyhock is a member of the mallow family.

It is believed that the first part of the name relates to the fact that the plant has medicinal purposes, making it a “holy” plant with healing powers. 

Symbolism of the Hollyhock Flower

Hollyhock flowers have gained various meanings throughout time, but a couple stand out above the rest. One meaning that is most significant is that they symbolize ambition. Other sources indicate that the meaning behind hollyhock flowers is that they symbolize fertility.

light pink hollyhocks

The idea that hollyhocks are a symbol of ambition may be derived from the plant’s nature of growing, spreading, and flowering for long periods of time—some may say that these flowers are ambitious to grow. The hollyhock flowers also grow fairly tall, generally taller than most of the flowers in a garden, making them seem ambitious when compared to other flowers growing nearby.

Another common meaning behind the hollyhock flowers is that they symbolize fertility. This may seem like an odd symbol for a flower, but the idea may come from the hollyhock’s ability to reseed, growing new flowers each season. The flower’s reseeding properties correlate to fertility in the way that the flower is able to produce many offspring easily year after year. 

Hollyhock flowers can be found in all kinds of shades, including pink, purple, yellow, red, and orange. 

What Does a Red Hollyhock Flower Mean?

Red hollyhock flowers symbolize love, typically passionate love. 

What Does a Purple Hollyhock Flower Mean?

Purple hollyhock flowers are symbols of nobility. They are best used as a gift to someone very special.

What Does a Yellow Hollyhock Flower Represent?

Like orange and pink hollyhock flowers, yellow hollyhock flowers typically symbolize happiness and friendship. They can also symbolize non-romantic platonic love. 

yellow hollyhock

What is the Cultural Significance of a Hollyhock Flower? 

Hollyhocks are one of the oldest flower varieties still planted today, and they are believed to have been around since before recorded history. These flowers are thought to originate from East Asia where they quickly grew in popularity and started spreading across Asia to the Middle East. 

These flowers became wildly popular in Japan, where they could be found in almost any garden. They were actually incorporated into the official seal of Japan’s Tokugawa shogunate and the flower continues to be influential today. It inspired the name of a professional soccer club, Mito HollyHock, and is also celebrated in the Aoi Matsuri (Hollyhock Festival) each year in Kyoto.

The English, on the other hand, discovered the hollyhock flowers during the Crusades in the Middle East. During the Victorian era, the flowers became associated closely with fecundity and ambition.

Hollyhock flowers spread quickly as a popular flower not only for their beauty, but also because they are edible and have medicinal properties. These flowers also grow well in a number of different climates, making them accessible to locations across the globe. 

The ability to gather a large number of seeds from each hollyhock flower is possibly a contributing factor to how these flowers were able to spread to different regions so easily. Shortly after these flowers would arrive in a new region or country, they immediately began to grow in popularity.

Hollyhocks were often used in logos for baby clothing enterprises since they were so closely affiliated with the idea of fertility. They were used in many Flemish oil paintings and in Art Nouveau products, like printed wallpaper and contemporary decor. Viewed as a symbol of strength and ambition, it’s a popular choice for all kinds of decor.

What is the Symbolism of a Hollyhock Tattoo?

Hollyhock tattoos are often selected by individuals who have suffered pregnancy loss or other issues related to fertility as a show of strength and resilience. When chosen as tattoos in this manner, they represent hope and a willingness to begin anew.

When Should You Give Someone a Hollyhock?

The hollyhock is not a commonly gifted flower, but when it is chosen, it is a good symbol of respect and a willingness to protect someone else. You may give these flowers to someone about whom you care deeply. Give someone a hollyhock, and you will be telling them, “I care about you deeply – you mean so much to me.”

*image by Wirestock/depositphotos

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