Everything’s Coming Up Danger

What are some of the more unusual meanings that the Victorians assigned to flowers?


For 1800s floral bliss and horror, look to Kate Greenaway, an illustrator and author born 1846 in Hoxton, England.

Alongside the nursery rhymes and bedtime tunes in the Treasury of Kate Greenaway, you’ll find the ‘Language of Flowersand some pleasant floral symbolism: Yellow Acacia is for Secret Love, White Dittany of Crete is for Passion, Lemon Blossoms are for Fidelity in Love, while Cabbage Rose is the Ambassador of Love.

More intriguing are the flowers said to represent less than pleasant sentiments. Think twice – at least in 19th Century England – if you receive a bouquet of these …


Common Almond Flower – Stupidity. Indiscretion

Red Balsam – Touch me not. Impatient resolves

Basil – Hatred

Deep Red Carnation – Alas! For my poor heart

Dragonwort – Horror

Fig – Argument

Flax-leaved Goldy-locks – Tardiness

French Marigold – Jealousy

Dark Geranium – Melancholy

Hemlock – You will be my death



Lavender – Distrust

Lettuce – Cold-heartedness

Wild Licorice – I declare against you

Mandrake – Horror

Narcissus – Egotism

Wild Ranunculus – Ingratitude

Carolina Rose – Love is dangerous

Wild Tansy – I declare war against you

Creeping Willow – Love forsaken



Illustrations by Kate Greenaway


1900's Swizzle + Food Slang


Is My Jam Your Jam?

Elizabeth Newton

Elizabeth Newton