Poppy Flower Meaning

Poppy Flower Meaning and Symbolism

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The birthday flower for the month of August, the poppy, or Papaver somniferum, is one of the most popular wildflowers in the United States. Although it’s best known for its vibrant shades of red, the poppy flower can be found in many other colors as well.

Not only that, but poppies possess powerful symbolism. While the meaning varies between cultures and countries, one thing is for sure – this beautiful flower can really enhance the beauty and symbolism of a classic bouquet.

What Does Poppy Mean?

There isn’t a lot of symbolism behind the word “poppy” itself. In fact, it’s simply a derivative of the Old English popig, which is a medieval Latin alteration of the Laitn word papaver, which means “to swell.” That is one possible translation.

Another translation is from the Latin word for milk, “pappa.” This is because the poppy, when cut, seeps a thick latex sap that looks much like milk. 

What Does the Poppy Flower Symbolize?

The poppy is a common symbol that has been used to represent everything from peace to death and even simply sleep. When used on tombstones, poppies represent eternal sleep. This symbolism was referenced in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, in which a mystical poppy field could make the characters sleep forever. 

When used in wartime commemorations, red poppies in particular are believed to represent respect and solemnity for fallen soldiers. 

The California poppy is the state flower of California with the red poppy is the national flower of Albania. 

The symbolism of this meaningful flower doesn’t end there, though. It can also be used as a symbol of imagination, messages delivered in dreams, beauty, success, luxury, extravagance, and even peace in death. 

The meaning varies between countries but many cultures share at least one common meaning for this flower. 

What Does a Pink Poppy Mean? 

Pink isn’t the most common poppy shade you will find, but nonetheless, it brings a ton of meaning to the table. This color, along with blue and pink, are connected to luxury, success, and imagination.

What Does a White Poppy Symbolize? 

White poppies usually symbolize remembrance and peaceful rest. They are often tied to funerals and memorial ceremonies in the East.

What Does a Red Poppy Mean?

Red poppies are usually linked to consolation, remembrance, and death. The red poppy is used as a way to recognize fallen soldiers – most notably those who died in World War II. However, in Eastern cultures, poppies usually symbolize love and success instead, a stark contrast to their solemn Western symbolism. 

What is the Cultural Significance of the Poppies?

The poppy flower is entrenched in cultural significance. The Ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians connected poppies with sleep because of the sedative nature of its sap. In particular, the Greeks related the flower to Morpheus, the god of sleep. 

Victorians attributed numerous meanings to the flower, most of which varied depending on the color. It was most commonly used to represent loss, extravagance, and deep sleep. However, Japanese and Chinese cultures view the poppy as a representation of passionate love in a couple. 

What is the Symbolism of a Poppy Tattoo?

Poppy tattoos are often chosen in shades of bright red, but it’s also common to find designs with black and gray tones to highlight the elegance and natural beauty of this flower. It is often used to commemorate soldiers fallen on the battlefield, as well as to more generally symbolize life and death. 

When Should You Give Someone a Poppy Flower?

Poppies are perfect for gifting to people who have birthdays in August. Not only is the flower right in season at this time, but it is the classic flower that represents the birth month of August. 

However, you could also give poppies if you are attending a funeral, as it can symbolize recovery, eternal life, and restful sleep. It’s also representative for remembering the fallen armed forces. 

While the flower meanings of your poppy bouquet will vary depending on where you live, who you give the flowers to, and the color of the blooms, one thing is for sure – giving someone a bouquet of poppies is a surefire way to make a lasting impression. 

See our guide about growing poppies.

*Photo by imagebrokermicrostock/depositphotos

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