Flowers have a privileged position in the Chinese culture. Flowers are an indelible part of the collective consciousness of the Chinese people. Flowers in China are a language that conveys positive messages and plays a significant role in the day to day life of the common folk. There are 10 famous flowers in China, each of which symbolizes a spiritual trait or values that are cherished in traditional Chinese culture.
- Plum Blossom
In traditional Chinese culture, plum blossom stands for noble, unsullied and modest qualities and is considered as “friend of winter”. Along with orchid, bamboo and chrysanthemum, they are praised as the “Four Gentlemen”. A symbol of perseverance because it blooms in winter.
In Chinese culture the plum blossomIt represents the value of endurance, as Chinese people are always indomitable and constantly strive to become stronger. As the Chinese poem goes, “the fragrance of plum blossom comes from bitterness and coldness”. Souls are tempered through the sufferings, growing in inner strength and unbending spirit.
Peony is the country’s most significant flower and is considered by many as the country’s national flower (not officially declared). It is a symbol of prosperity because of the dazzling color, extraordinary size, and round shape of the flower.
At a higher level, the peony symbolizes prosperity, happiness and peace. At a material level, it represents wealth and rank. Its very fragrance in China is considered heavenly and the flower is believed to be of divine descent.
Chrysanthemums originated in China and are well liked by Chinese. In traditional Chinese culture, chrysanthemums represent nobility and elegance. Chrysanthemums bloom in the late autumn, so its ability to withstand the coldness inspired many ancient scholars to write poems and paint pictures. With its unsophisticated beauty, chrysanthemum is also a symbol of longevity in Chinese myths and literature.
Untouched by any impurities, the lotus symbolizes purity of the heart and mind and represents long life, humility, honor and tranquility.Chinese people have an abiding fondness for lotus flowers. The adoration of the lotus has formed a unique “Lotus culture” lasting a long time in China. A Song Dynasty scholar, Zhou Dunyi, praised lotus as “unsullied from silt where it comes from, retains demure despite being cleaned by water” in his prose Ai Lian Shuo.
In ancient Chinese literature, the lotus is often connected with women’s noble and pure personality. In the Chinese classic Dream of the Red Chamber, Qing Wen, an honest and upright maid of protagonist Jia Baoyu, becomes a lotus fairy after passing away.
- Chinese rose
Rosa chinensis, or China Rose is regarded as “queen of flowers”. It blooms all year and varies greatly in color and may open red, creamy white, or yellow. China Rose is endowed with and dauntless spirit and is declared as city flowers by about 50 China cities including Beijing. And it is a member of the genus Rosa native to Southwest China in Guizhou, Hubei, and Sichuan Provinces.
In Chinese culture, the azalea is known as “thinking of home bush” and is immortalized in the poetry of Tu Fu and is used to rich effect in contemporary stories such as by Taiwanese author Pai, Hsien-Yung. Colorful azaleas represent happiness and prosperity and can always evoke people’s warm passion for life. A symbol of dedication. It is said that an ancient emperor could not forget his love and died in frustration. After his death, he became a bird and sang day and night in late spring. Finally, it bled to death and the blood tainted all the flowers in mountains; the flowers are thus named cuckoo.
Azaleas bloom in spring and open in various colors such as red, pink and white, their flowers often last several weeks. In Chinese mytholgy, a melancholy bird named Du Juan bleated day and night until it spat blood, which painted all the flowers on the hill red. The flowers were named after the miserable bird.
Coco Chanel’s favorite flower, the camellia, has been planted in China as early as the Three Kingdoms (AD 220-280). An auspicious symbol. It is said in the Buddhist tradition to be one of the four kinds of flowers growing in heaven.
As one of the “Four Gentlemen” in Chinese art, the orchid is better known for its delicate fragrance. And its Chinese character “Lan” has being widely used in women’s names for thousands of years.
In Chinese culture it represents integrity, nobility and friendship, all of which are virtues of a perfectly cultured gentleman and scholar. It was believed to be elegant yet humble, natural yet refined, joyous yet polite and independent yet friendly. Also, Ancient Chinese called eternal friendship “lan jiao”, or companionship as noble as the orchid, and beautiful prose and poems “lan zhang”, or words as graceful as the orchid. Orchid has always had a very special place in Chinese Culture.
- Sweet osmanthus
A symbol of longevity. Chinese mythology held that a sweet osmanthus grows on the moon and was endlessly cut by Wu Gang, a Taoist practitioner who violated Taoist cultivation rules. This flower has long been favored by the Chinese because of its fragrance and cultural association.
In China, its flowers are infused with green or black tea leaves, to create a scented tea called guihua cha. In Chinese cuisine, the flowers are also used to produce osmanthus-scented jam, sweet cakes , dumplings, soups, and even liquor.
The narcissus is known in Chinese as the “water goddess” or “the goddess who stands above the waves”. The flower is believed to have occult value. It is used for exorcism, to rout out evil spirits. Many narcissus blooms together form a group of “immortals”. Glossy ganderma stands for the correct way of living, indicating clean and healthy trends. This flower is believed to have powers to bring a person back to life. The narcissus is native to China and is mainly distributed Zhejiang, Fujian and other regions.