Primary Significance: Fascination, Distinction, and Love.
What is delicate, durable, and delightful all in one? The carnation, scientifically known as Dianthus caryophyllus, is a historically rich and meaningful flower choice. With its scientific name dianthus roughly translating to “flower of love” or “flower of the gods”, depending on the source, this flower is one that has been revered for centuries. One of the world’s oldest cultivated flowers, the carnation is appreciated for its ruffled appearance, clove-like scent, and extended blooming period.
The carnation’s history dates back to ancient Greek and Roman times, when it was used in art and decor. Christians believe that the first carnation bloomed on earth when Mary wept for Jesus as he carried his cross. Carnations in these early times were predominantly found in shades of pale pink and peach, but over the years the palette of available colors has grown to include red, yellow, white, purple, and even green. Throughout so many centuries of change, the popularity of the carnation has remained undiminished. The fact that the carnation continues to endure is a testament to its vast appeal.
The meanings of carnations include fascination, distinction, and love. Like many other flowers, different messages can also be expressed with the flower’s different color varieties. Light red carnations, for example, are often used to convey admiration, whereas the dark red version expresses deeper sentiments of love and affection. White carnations are associated with purity and luck, and pink carnations are often given as a sign of gratitude. In the early part of the 20th century, carnations became the official flower of Mother’s Day in addition to finding particular significance in many other cultures worldwide.
To this day, carnations remain a favorite flower choice for many different occasions. They are immediately recognizable flowers, and they possess a charm and allure that continues to captivate people around the globe. In fact, in many parts of the world, the popularity of carnations surpasses that of any other flower including roses. The powerful sentiments these flowers can express are a perfect complement to their classic beauty and long-lasting freshness. By retaining its status as a floral mainstay for such a long time, the carnation has proven itself to be a lasting flower in more ways than one.
Back to Flower Meaning Guide: History and Meaning of Roses and their Colors