© 2000 Walter E. Gast
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Flowers, Plants and Trees

Acacia
Symbolizes the soul's immortality because it is a durable wood.

Almond
A symbol of divine approval, based on Numbers 17:1-8:

"The LORD said to Moses, 'Speak to the Israelites and get twelve staffs from them, one from the leader of each of their ancestral tribes. Write the name of each man on his staff. ... The staff belonging to the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid myself of this constant grumbling against you by the Israelites.' ... The next day Moses entered the Tent of the Testimony and saw that Aaron's staff, which represented the house of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds." (NIV)

For this reason is has been used as a symbol of the Virgin Mary.

Anemone
Used in the early church as a symbol of the Trinity. Used in art as a symbol of sorrow and death. Often seen in scenes of the Crucifixion.

Apple
When shown in Adam's hand, the apple symbolizes sin. When held by Christ, it represents salvation.

Aspen
Legend has it that the aspen was the only tree that did not bow in sorrow and respect when Jesus died on the cross. Because of its pride, its leaves were doomed to constant trembling. Another legend claims the aspen was the wood chosen for the cross, and when the tree learned how it was to be used, it began to tremble with horror and has never stopped.

Bramble
The burning bush at which the Lord appeared to Moses was believed to have been a bramble. It became a symbol of the purity of the Virgin Mary, who "bore the flames of divine love without being consumed by lust.

Bulrush
The bulrush has been used as a symbol of faithfulness and humility in obedience to Christ because the bulrush is a common plant that grows in clusters near water. Because of its association with the infant Moses, it may also point to the place of salvation (Exodus 2).

Carnation
A red carnation symbolizes love. A "pink" is a symbol of marriage.

Cedar (of Lebanon)
The cedar is a symbol of Christ. It is also identified with the concepts of beauty and majesty.

Song 5:15 His legs are pillars of marble set on bases of pure gold. His appearance is like Lebanon, choice as its cedars. (NIV)

Cherry
A cherry symbolizes the sweetness of character derived from good works.

Chestnut
A symbol for chastity because the chestnut is surrounded by thorns but is not harmed by them.

Clover
The clover, or shamrock, is a symbol of for the Trinity.

Cockle
The cockle symbolizes the invasion of wickedness, especially in the Church, because it invades tilled fields and mingles with the grain.

Matt. 13:24 Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. (NIV)

Columbine
Thought by some to look like a dove, the columbine is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The name comes from the Latin columba, which means "dove." Seven blooms on a stalk represent the seven gifts of the Spirit.

Isa. 11:2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him &emdash; the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD (NIV)

Cyclamen
Cyclamen is used in reference to the Virgin Mary. The red spot at its center represents the sorrow she carried in her heart.

Cypress
The cypress is associated with death. For this reason, cypress trees are often planted in cemeteries.

Daisy
The daisy is a late symbol of the innocence of the Christ Child.

Dandelion
The dandelion, one of the "bitter herbs," is a symbol of Christ's Passion.

Elm
The elm is used in reference to dignity and faithfulness.

Fern
Because it conceals its beauty in the depths of the forest, the fern represents humility in solitude.

Fig
The fig is sometimes used in place of the apple as the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It may also be used as a symbol of lust or fertility because of its many seeds.

Fir
Fir trees are sometimes used to represent God's elect because they stretch toward heaven. They may also represent patience.

Glastonbury Thorn
The Glastonbury thorn represents the Nativity because it blooms on or near Christmas.

Gourd
Because of its association with Jonah, the gourd has been used to symbolize the Resurrection. Pictured with an apple, it represents the antidote to evil.

Grape
Grapes represent the blood of Christ, especially in references to the Eucharist. A vineyard represents the mission field, and grapes in this association may signify good works. A grape vine is a reference to Christ.

John 15:5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (NIV)

Holly (Ilex)
Holly is often used as symbol for Christ's crown of thorns, and therefore of His Passion.

Hyacinth
Symbolizes prudence and peace of mind.

Hyssop
Hyssop is used as a symbol of penitence and humility. By extension, because of its purgative qualities, it may symbolize baptism.

Iris
The iris is a rival of the lily as a symbol for the Virgin Mary. Sometimes called a "sword lily," it refers to Mary's sorrow at Christ's Passion.

Ivy
Because it is evergreen, ivy represents faithfulness and eternal life.

Jasmine
Jasmine is sometimes used in reference to the Virgin Mary because of its white color and sweet scent.

Laurel
The laurel represents victory or triumph, particularly over temptation and trial, because of the ancient practice of crowning the victor in a contest with a wreath of laurel. Because its leaves never wilt, it can may also symbolize eternity.

2Tim. 2:1 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. 3 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs &emdash;he wants to please his commanding officer. 5 Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules. (NIV)

Lemon
Symbolizes fidelity in love.

Lily
The lily symbolizes purity. It is the primary attribute of the Virgin Mary.

Lily of the Valley
Because it appears in early spring, lily of the valley is often used to symbolize Christ's Advent.

Myrtle
The myrtle is an ancient symbol for love. In Christian symbolism, it represents the Gentiles converted to Christ.

Narcissus
From the Greek myth of Narcissus, the beautiful youth who fell in love with his reflection in a pool and drowned trying to embrace it, the narcissus symbolizes self-love. Because Narcissus was reborn as a flower after his death, the narcissus is sometimes used to signify the triumph of divine love and sacrifice over death, selfishness and sin.

Oak
The oak is a pagan symbol reinterpreted by Christians to represent Christ. It is also a symbol of endurance, especially in the face of adversity.

Olive
The olive is a universal symbol for peace. Olive oil is a symbol of God's anointing and of the Holy Spirit.

Orange
Orange trees and their blossoms are symbolic of purity, chastity and generosity. More rarely, an orange tree is used to represent the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in Paradise.

Palm
A symbol of victory.

Pansy
Symbolizes remembrance and meditation.

Peach
The peach is a symbol of virtue and good works.

Pear
The pear symbolizes Christ's love for mankind.

Plane Tree
Symbolizes Christian love and character because it spreads its branches high and wide.

Plantain
The plantain was often used in Renaissance art to represent the "way bread" of pilgrims seeking the path of salvation.

Plum
A symbol of faithfulness and independence.

Pomegranate
The pomegranate is most often used to represent the Church because of its many seeds in a single fruit. It may also be used to represent resurrection or fertility.

Poppy
A poppy may represent sleep or indifference because of its narcotic qualities. It is sometimes used in depictions of the Passion of Christ as a reference to the sleep of death.

Reed
The reed is a symbol of Christ's Passion. It symbolizes humiliation.

Rose
A white rose symbolizes purity. A red rose is a symbol of martyrdom. A wreath of roses is symbolic of heavenly joy.

Strawberry
Symbolizes righteousness and good works.

Thistle
Thistles represent the curse of sin, particularly the Fall. They may also be used in depictions of Christ's Passion.

Vine
A symbol of Christ, the True Vine. The vine is sometimes used to represent the relationship between God and His people. It may also refer to God's providence and heavenly care.

Violet
The violet is a symbol of humility (thus the phrase "shrinking violet"). By extension, it refers to the Incarnation of Christ.

Wheat
Wheat represents the harvest reaped from sowing the Gospel. Together with grapes, it is a reference to the Body of Christ in the Eucharist.

Willow
The willow is sometimes used to represent the Gospel because, no matter how many of its branches are cut off, it continues to flourish.