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The Symbolic Meaning of the Camellia

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Jan 30, 2017

Camellia Flower Lady Song

She sang the trot like she owned the narrative,

as if she was singing about her inner most secret.

-The lady who lost her lover

The place where she met him

The Place with the Camellia flower

By Dawn of Lighten


photo credit via

The camellia is a beautiful flower that is delicate in appearance and prefers warmer, tropical climates to grow within instead of cold or arid environments.  The original origins can be traced back to Japan and China where it was first developed and then later taken over to Europe where it flourished in the warmer areas of the continent.  Certain places such as the Borromeo Islands are also said to have a healthy harvest of camellia varieties where their colors expand outside of typical white, red and pink shades and into variegated hues.  The foliage is equally stunning having flashy wax leaves that add to the flower’s dramatic presentation.  While its physical features have inspired the flower to be symbolic of admiration, beauty and repentance, the camellia has grown to symbolize further meanings throughout the years and across the globe.

Most famously, the camellia was brought into popularity after it was used as the focus of Alexandre Dumas’s novel, La Dame aux Camelias.  The book became such a huge success that the flower inspired renowned operas such as “La Traviata” by Verdi.  After these masterpiece’s debuted, the flower could be seen worn as lapel bouquets (boutonnières) and became quite trendy within the fashion and floral world.  One of the camellia’s biggest advocates was handed straight from the imperial designer, Coco Chanel.  

Fascinating enough, the camellia’s importance and symbolism varies depending on what country and region you happen to be referencing.  For instance, while the flower means young sons and daughters when discussed in China (also southern China’s official flower), Korea chooses to acknowledge its importance in terms of loyalty and faithfulness.  In Japanese culture, camellia’s mean “divinity” but in England, it is used as a gift to express a romantic interest from a secret admirer.  Can you guess what the camellia symbolizes in the United States?  Not only is it the state of Alabama’s official flower but the camellia means beauty, passion, longing and desire.  

Tags: Language of Flowers, Flower Meanings, Camellia

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