Bleeding Heart Flower Meaning, Symbolism of Each Color and Uses

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Bleeding Hearts are a flora that appears as literal as their name calls it. It takes the shape of a heart with what looks to be like blood trickling out of it! So don’t hesitate to read ahead what the meanings and symbols are because looks can be deceiving!

The Bleeding Heart flower meaning and symbolism is rooted in its floral shape, history, and floral colors. Because it is such a unique flower, it comes in three colors – white, red, and pink. A white Bleeding Heart flower means innocence. Meanwhile, a red flower represents sorrow while a pink one symbolizes love.

History of the Bleeding Heart Flowers

The Bleeding Hearts come from either the Dicentra genus or Lamprocapnos genus of the poppy or Papaveraceae family. The genus Dicentra comes from the Greek words dis and kentros therefore Dicentra means two spurs and refers to the flower’s broken heart like shape. Meanwhile, Lamprocapnos also lampros and kapnos which means shining smoke and thus refers to the flower’s color. 

The flower was first discovered in Japan by a Scottish botanist, Robert Fortune. He made a descriptive scientific discovery of naming the first Bleeding Heart flower – a very literal common name. Other common names the flower can go by include Lyre flowers, Chinese pants, Amore rose, or Lady’s pockets.

The common name was first defined in 1864 as a perennial garden plant with heart-shaped flowers that look like it has blood falling out. These flowers are native to the Pacific or Asian regions with temperate zones such as northern China, Japan, Korea, and North America. The Asian Bleeding Heart is scientifically identified as Lamprocapnos spectabilis while the Pacific counterpart is identified as Dicentra formosa. 

Other species of these flowers have white, pink, or red petals and begin blooming during the mid summer season. When the plant is in bloom, its outer petals appear as heart shaped petals. It will thrive best in moist soil and full sun to partial shade conditions and the best times to plant these is during the spring season. 

Symbolism of the Bleeding Heart Blossom

The most common symbolism associated with the Bleeding Hearts is the portrayal of beauty and positive energy. The flowers mostly embody people who are extremely soft-hearted and deeply sympathetic especially to those who are persecuted or mistreated.

Also, the Bleeding Hearts symbolize expressing emotions freely such as a passionate love, deep emotions, and feeling compassion. Aside from compassion and unconditional love, it can also symbolize love.
Expressions of lingering pain and passion are also attributed as symbols of these blossoms. So, if you’re thinking of a way to express such emotions, you can do so by displaying a vase of Dicentras or Lamprocapnos blossoms.

white bleeding heart

Meaning of the Bleeding Heart Floret

A far-fetched meaning of this flower is the conveying message of flying or fleeing away from danger or uncertainty. Similar meanings of this flower also include valued friendship and a display of warmth at home.

Also, the etymological meaning behind this flower comes from its floral shape that indicates a meaning of love and romance. Because of its unique beauty, this flower has a deep meaning of different kinds of love such as unconditional love, rejected love, or romantic love.

What Do White Bleeding Heart Flowers Mean?

These white flowers hold a special meaning to it because a flower of this color is considered rare. Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba’ or white Bleeding Hearts reflect an image of a person’s purity and innocence, especially for women and children. 

What Does a Red Bleeding Heart Blossom Symbolize?

You may think a red Bleeding Heart symbolize love and sweet things, but it means something entirely different. The red Bleeding Heart flower distinctly symbolizes both one’s sorrow from a loss and the affections of love for a significant other. 

What Does a Pink Bleeding Heart Bloom Represent?

Dicentra or Lamprocapnos species with pink-petalled flowers display a person’s undying and unrequited love. The pink bleeding heart flowers can also embody a deep and passionate love. It mirrors the elegance and fidelity of women and the general remembrance of past emotions.

What are the Symbolic Mythologies of a Bleeding Heart Floret? 

There is a story that goes to tell that if one crushes the Bleeding Heart’s floret, either a red or white liquid will ooze out from it. It is believed that if red blood-like liquid trickles out, your heart will be full of affection from your true love. On the other hand, if a white substance oozes out, well you aren’t in much luck, the one you truly love loves you no more. Better hope that whenever you come across this flower, a red liquid comes out! 

What is the Biblical Symbolism of a Bleeding Heart Flower?

The Dicentra or Lamprocapnos biblically symbolizes the death of the Virgin Mary’s loved one, and in this case, it was Jesus Christ. The symbol of sorrow was associated with this plant because of the sorrow She felt upon His crucifixion. The literal name of Bleeding Hearts represents His heart with droplets of blood. The droplets of blood also signify Mother Mary’s lost love and the wounds of Christ. 

What is the Cultural Significance of the Bleeding Heart Blossom?

In Japan, this beautiful plant is very culturally significant. In fact, it is one of the only species to have an old Japanese folktale passed down through generations about the flowers. A white bleeding heart flower is very rare compared to the red and pink one. 

The folktale tells of a story about two people who fell in love. According to the folktale, a wealthy prince fell deeply for a beautiful maiden. The prince loved this maiden so much but was only rejected in the end. The loving prince never stopped professing his love to the maiden and offered the white petals as a token of his feelings and affection. 

After some time, the prince died by taking his own life and the maiden was left distraught. She cried her heart out and colored the white petal red. This is why the Bleeding Heart is symbolic of an unrequited love. Although in other different cultures, the flower can have other symbolic meanings.

In other eastern cultures, the flowers are symbolic of a spurned love. The flower is a constant reminder of how a heart can break and appear bleeding in pain. 

What Does a Bleeding Heart Floral Tattoo Symbolize?

This choice of a body art design is mostly for those who choose the embodiment of positive energy and elegance – and this is what a Bleeding Heart tattoo symbolizes. It is an uncommon motif for a tattoo but those who ink these onto their bodies also reflect the love and passion within their hearts.

Additionally, this type of floral tattoo is symbolic of the cycle of life and death.

Uses of the Bleeding Heart Plant

The ornamental plant Dicentra or Lamprocapnos is often used to decorate English gardens and yards. Its rich and oily floral parts make up the insect’s food which in turn helps spread its seed to other areas. Speaking of gardens and yards, these flowers are great company flowers among ferns as a ground cover decor. 

Since these floras bloom from late Spring and up until early Summer, they can be used as accents or fillers in floral arrangements such as wedding bouquets or Valentine’s day. Some even place this as a center piece in table decorations. And the best part is that it can survive for two weeks! You can admire its beauty and tell your friends of the meaning and symbolism behind it!

The flowers also have claimed medicinal uses that are still up for further medicinal research and study. Traditional medicinal uses by indigenous people use the plant roots as a drink claiming to aid with skin disorders caused by insect bites and other related diseases such as hair loss. It can also be used as a topical analgesic in other cultures. 

Some claims also say that drinking the extract of the roots by boiling treats syphilis and cramps. The flower also has no culinary uses and is considered toxic. A word of warning once again to first consult medical experts before using this plant as a remedy since it is also known to contain a poison dangerous to other plants and animals.

Learn more about different types of bleeding heart plants and how to grow and care for bleeding heart flowers.

*image credit: Lamprocapnos/depositphotos

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