The Snapdragon Flower: Its Meanings & Symbolism
There are about 40 species of snapdragons or dragon plants, also known as the plant genus Antirrhinums. When the flower is gently squeezed, it apparently makes the flower look like a dragon’s head. Keep in mind that centuries ago there was no television, radio or printed books. People found amusements wherever they could. Nowadays, people admire snapdragons and give them as gifts more than they squeeze them.
What Does the Snapdragon Flower Mean?
Snapdragons possess two meanings. This is similar to the mythical creature they resemble, revered in some cultures and feared in others:
- A snapdragon means grace and, due to its growth in rocky areas, strength.
- However, it can also symbolize deviousness.
Etymological Meaning of the Snapdragon Flower
Although the common English name snapdragon is taken from the flower’s appearance, the genus name Antirrhinums is a bit more obscure. It derives from the Greek word “antirrhinon” which roughly translates to “nose-like.” The Greeks had two names for the plant. They also called it “kynokephelon” which means “dog-headed.”
Symbolism of the Snapdragon Flower
People have loved snapdragons since before the days of the Roman Empire. Snapdragons have become part of human mythology with complex symbolism.
- Since a snapdragon is a symbol for both deception and graciousness, sometimes snapdragons are used as a charm against falsehood.
- In Victorian times, messages from lovers were secretly sent by flowers. A snapdragon with a flower known for truth-telling, such as a hyacinth, meant that the giver is sorry for making a mistake.
- Snapdragons also symbolize grace under pressure or inner strength in trying circumstances.
Snapdragon Flower Facts
Although snapdragons are commonly seen today, these are by no means common plants.
- Other common names for snapdragons include lion’s mouth, calf’s snout and toad’s mouth.
- Snapdragons vary in size from five inches to three feet tall.
- Only large insects like bumblebees can pollinate snapdragons because the petals are too heavy for smaller insects to push apart. Only one snapdragon and one large insect is needed to make more snapdragons. Another snapdragon plant is not necessary.
- Snapdragons originated in southern Spain, North Africa and America.
- The Romans spread snapdragons throughout Europe and through most of their empire. They called snapdragons leonis ora, which translates to “lion mouth.”
Snapdragon Flower Color Meanings
Snapdragons have been associated with magic since the time of the ancient Greeks. Colors in and of themselves were thought to contain magical properties. Snapdragons may contain more than one color. New varieties are being developed all the time.
- Purple: This is a color associated with spirituality and those who have learned about spiritual (or magical) mysteries.
- Red: Passion, love, giving positive energy to the receiver.
- Yellow: This sunshine color means smiles, happiness and overall good luck.
- White: White symbolizes purity, grace, innocence and also good magic.
Meaningful Botanical Characteristics of the Snapdragon Flower
Snapdragons aren’t just valued for their pretty, squeezable blossoms. They also provide other benefits.
- Snapdragon seeds make cooking oil which is sometimes sold as a herbal remedy to reduce bodily swellings.
- The ancient historian Pliny wrote people could make themselves more attractive merely by rubbing snapdragon blossoms over their bodies. Sadly, this has never been proved to work.
- Pliny also wrote that wearing a bracelet made of snapdragons was once thought to make the wearer immune to poisons.
- Snapdragons are not poisonous to children or pets.
- According to European folklore, stepping on snapdragons can break black magic spells. However, this and the existence of black magic has never been proven in a clinical trial.
The Snapdragon Flower’s Message
Things are not always what they appear to be. Be careful where you stick your nose because magic is in the air.