Symbolic Meaning of the Dahlia Flower

by Corinne Cooke

The dahlia (genus Dahlia) is the national flower of Mexico known for its continuous, colorful flowers that bloom throughout the growing season. The dahlia comes in variety of colors, shapes and sizes, making it a favorite flower among landscapers and florists alike. The beauty of the dahlia flower inspired great symbolic meaning during the Victorian era and continues to be used today to express personal sentiments.

Description

Yellow dahlia flowers

The dahlia flower is characterized by the rings its petals. There is great variation among the different species of dahlia in regards to the size, height, color, petal shape, and number of rows of petals. Some smaller dahlias grow 1 to 3 feet with flowers 2 to 4 inches in diameter. Larger dahlias grow up to 6 feet with flowers up to 12 inches in diameter. The dahlia's flowers can be white, yellow, orange, red, pink or purple and are either solid or patterned with different colored stripes or edges. The petals of different varieties of dahlias can be long or short, pointed or round, uniformly or irregularly spaced or curl at the edges.

Flower Symbolism

Medieval manuscript with flower symbology

For centuries flowers have been used in many cultures as the symbolic representations of abstract concepts. They were first used as symbols in a religious context. Different flowers were associated with the various deities of ancient religions or given spiritual meanings in the Medieval era and Renaissance period. It was in the Victorian era that the intricate language of flowers came into being; each flower embodied a different emotion or characteristic used to communicate messages.

Flower Uses

Young man giving flowers

Flowers were used in various ways to convey messages through their symbolism; exchanging gifts of flowers or bouquets is the most common example of this. In the Victorian era, depictions of flowers were used to decorate clothing, jewellery, hair accessories, stationary, china and home decor to express a thought or idea. The scent of a specific species of flower was also exchanged on handkerchiefs to convey messages. Flower symbolism was also used in art and gardens designed during the Medieval and Renaissance periods with a specific focus on representing spiritual ideas.

Modern Flower Uses

Bouquet of wedding flowers closeup

Today the Victorian language of flowers still exists, though it is considerably less known and practiced. Flower symbolism is most commonly used by florists to create bouquets that express a specific meaning for special occasions and holidays. The popularity and beauty of flowers also lead to the tradition of using the names of flowers as given names for girls. Names such as Rose, Jasmine, Lily, Daisy, Heather and Holly are very popular English names today.

Dahlia Symbolism

Field of flowering dahlias

The symbolic meaning of the dahlia in the Victorian language of flowers has survived. When given as a gift, the dahlia flower expresses sentiments of dignity and elegance. It is also the symbol of a commitment and bond that lasts forever. The dahlia flower is still used today in gardens and flower arrangements to celebrate love and marriage.

About the Author

Corinne Cooke began her writing career in 2007 after an extensive four-year research study into primate behavior. Cooke's project lead to her first published work in "Applied Animal Behaviour Science." She holds a Bachelor of Science in anthropology from the University of Toronto.

Photo Credits

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