Most people will recognize the delicate and beautiful leaves that feel soft to the touch and the vibrant colors that are so bright they seem photoshopped. They may also recognize the name because of the popular herbal tea.
Hibiscus flowers are native to tropical climates, mainly in the South Pacific, East Asia, and the Caribbean. However, their popularity is widespread, and they have symbolic influence as far west as Greece and England.
Hibiscus flowers are incredibly symbolic and have some of the most varied meanings geographically of any flowering plant. Their appearance and petals symbolize feminine beauty, hospitality, wealth, and friendship.
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Hibiscus Flower Meaning in Different Cultures
Hibiscus flowers are spread throughout the globe and have symbolic importance in many countries and cultures.
Polynesia and Hawaii
The hibiscus flower is famously associated with Hawaii and other Polynesian islands and is the state flower of Hawaii. Polynesians wear hibiscus flowers on their clothes, put them in their homes, and use their likeness on many clothes.
Women wear hibiscus flowers behind their ears to symbolize their relationship status. Behind the left ear, the woman is in a relationship. Behind the right ear, she is single and open to suitors.
Native Polynesians and Hawaiians also adorn their leis with hibiscus flowers to welcome visitors and friends as the ultimate symbol of hospitality. These flowers also represent royalty, respect, and power.
The Chinese refer to the hibiscus flower as the “Chinese Rose.” Hibiscus flowers are often given in bouquets in the same way that roses are in other cultures. However, the bouquets are not only given for romantic reasons but to bring about personal success, fame, and wealth.
Just as in Hawaii, the hibiscus is the national flower of Malaysia. In Malay, the hibiscus is called Bunga Raya, which means “celebration flower.” The flower is present for most holidays and special occasions.
In addition, each hibiscus petal symbolizes honoring diversity throughout the country, which is emblematic of the nation’s guiding principles of harmony between people of different races and cultures.
In Britain during Victorian times, collecting exotic flowers was a pastime of the wealthy class, and each flower had significant meaning. Hibiscus flowers came from across the globe and were therefore prized by high society. They believed the petals symbolized delicacy and beauty.
In Japan, the hibiscus symbolizes hospitality and a person with a gentle nature.
In South Korea, the hibiscus flower symbolizes longevity, immortality, and the afterlife.
In Hindu mythology, the red hibiscus flower is the flower of the deity Ganesha and the goddess Kali. Hindu sacred texts teach that Ganesha taught followers that power from the red hibiscus could be harnessed to connect with the divine.
The color red symbolizes the primordial energy which Kali rules over. The goddess Kali has often been depicted morphing into a hibiscus flower.
In Greece, hibiscus flowers have long been associated with mischief and trickery. In Greek mythology, the god Adonis turned himself into a hibiscus flower to distract Aphrodite and Persephone from fighting.
In ancient Egypt, hibiscus flowers were associated with romantic interests and lust. People even brewed tea made with hibiscus flowers to act as an aphrodisiac.
Related: Soil For Hibiscus Plants
Hibiscus Color Meanings
There are five common hibiscus colors: yellow, orange, red, pink, and purple. Each color has a different meaning and association. When giving these gorgeous flowers as gifts, keep in mind the different meanings when choosing a color so that you can communicate your interest.
Yellow hibiscus flowers symbolize joy, friendship, welcoming, and good luck, which is the perfect color if you buy a bouquet for someone undertaking an important role, such as a presentation at work or a stage performance.
Orange hibiscus flowers symbolize healing and vitality. The orange color is vibrant and strong and will brighten any room it is in, drawing attention to the strong meaning. These flowers are ideal for giving to a loved one struggling with their physical or mental health.
Like the rose or poppy, red hibiscus symbolizes passion and love. In addition, in Sanskrit, the color red governs a person’s root chakra or inner essence. Therefore, red hibiscus is the perfect gift for a romantic partner or someone on a personal journey.
Where red symbolizes romantic love, pink hibiscus relates to platonic love and true friendship. The energy these light pink petals give off is the representation of the trust and caring built with a lifelong friendship.
Give a bouquet of pink hibiscus to a friend to show how much you appreciate their company.
Lastly, the purple hibiscus symbolizes harmony, unique beauty, and a connection to the divine. Many cultures consider purple hibiscus to be more symbolically sacred and powerful.
Therefore, purple hibiscus can be given for several reasons and is often given to family members and romantic partners on special occasions.
Hibiscus Tattoo Meaning
Hibiscus flowers are a trendy tattoo choice for many reasons. Aesthetically, they are beautiful, with a mix of simplicity and intricacy in each petal, which makes them a striking tattoo, especially in color.
In general, hibiscus tattoos can symbolize anything from beauty to purity to wisdom. In Hawaii, they are a common tattoo by nature of being a national symbol and often represent Hawaiian pride and hospitality.
In most cultures, hibiscus flowers are considered representations of feminine beauty and are therefore much more common as tattoos for women. However, in China, these flowers represent wealth and prestige and are common tattoos for both men and women.
We hope you have enjoyed learning a little more about the amazing flower that is the hibiscus. It is one of the most symbolic and meaningful flowers on planet earth, and almost every culture has some ties to it.
The next time you see one of these beautiful plants outside, make sure to stop and appreciate its beauty and meaning.
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