Poppy Flower Meaning and Symbolism (Spiritual, Cultural and Tattoo)

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The poppy is quite a well known flower and name for a baby girl most people choose! Once you first hear the name of this flower, you would think it’s preppy and well – very poppy-lar! It is though – no doubt about that. With its popularity comes meaning and symbolism not quite what you would expect. 

These flowers have very important cultural and spiritual meanings. For historic culture, the flower is known as the Remembrance poppy to honor fallen soldiers of war. Folk who have this tattoo want to represent memories of loved ones. In spirituality, the flowers influence positivity and peace in spirit and life. 

Once you understand poppy flower meaning, growing poppy flowers will surely be a new addition to your floral collection!

History of the Poppy Plant

Poppies first made their debut in the early 12th century. They were defined as either annual or perennial herbs with milky and juicy flowers and capsular fruits. Fun fact – the addictive drug opium comes from the milky white latex of an unripe fruit capsule of an Opium Poppy (Papaver somniferum)!

The poppy flowers belong to the genus Papaver of the Poppy or Papaveraceae family. The genus name comes from the Middle English or Old English words Popi or Popig or the Celtic word Papa meaning porridge. The Latin word and genus name is actually referring to an ancient practice of mixing the plant in food to make children sleepy! 

Surprisingly, not all flowers named Poppy come from the Papaver genus. Some flowers come from other genera such as Romneya, Bocconia, Eomecon, and Meconopsis. Poppies grow natively to most parts of the northern hemisphere such as Central Europe and in some Asian countries.

Poppies are also florally known as the Corn Rose or Red Weed. Some of the florist’s favorite species include the Oriental Poppy (Papaver orientale), the Corn poppy or Silk poppies/Wild poppies (Papaver rhoeas), the Leeland Poppy (Papaver nudicaule), Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum Paeoniflorum variety), and the Peacock Poppy (Papaver pavoninum). 

Other poppies not from the same genus include the California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), Horned poppies (Glaucium flavum), and Celandine poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum). All though poppies today are available around the world, it best blooms during the early summer to late spring.

Symbolism of Poppy Blossoms

Some of the symbols behind poppies are very distinct from one another. In China, the poppy symbolism is known as the Yīngsù or the Chinese flower of December. It is a Chinese floral emblem of dissipation and evil! 

Meanwhile, early Egyptians and Assyrians have a different symbolic meaning for Papaver flowers. They believe it is a floral emblem of blood and a new life! Persians also regard this blossom as a deep symbol of love.

For ancient Romans and Greeks, they highly regarded such flowers as sacred and close to the gods. The poppies symbolize the Roman goddess Ceres – goddess of the fertility of crops and Greek goddess Aphrodite – goddess of love and vegetation!

A poppy symbolises eternal sleep and deep sleep because it contains a drug that induces sleep according to ancient artifacts buried thousands of years ago. Poppy is also a common symbol of eternal life and good fortune.

Today, the California poppy is known as the official state flower of California.

Meaning of Poppy Flowers

Poppies have their own meanings based on poppy colors. The real meaning behind poppies is associated with the addictive drug Opium. In the language of flowers, a poppy blossom can mean a state of peaceful dreaminess and wild imaginations! 

Be careful not to get too addicted to its beauty because poppies can also mean an eternal slumber and falling into an oblivion!
Papaver flowers can also present the meaning of expressing dominant affections and utmost respect. Here are just some of the different colors of poppies and the different meanings behind each one.

What does a White Poppy Flower Mean?

A white poppy blossom can mean long-lasting peace, grounded virtues, and untainted purity. In Roman beliefs, white poppies (or white poppy seeds) mean consolation. This specific flower was created by Ceres during the search for her daughter – Persephone.

What does a Red Poppy Flower Symbolize?

If you are looking for a floral to symbolize luxurious pleasures and fantastic extravagance – a poppy red flower fits this description perfectly! Red poppy flowers also symbolize a romantic love.

What does a Blue Poppy Flower Indicate?

Blue poppies are flowers that indicate the beauty of inner humility and pure innocence. On another note, it can also indicate mysteries!

What does a Black Poppy Bloom Represent?

A black poppy is actually a deep reddish-brown colored flower – under the light of the sun, it appears black! There is more than just one black poppy meanings. 

The black poppy flower meaning includes the cycle of rebirth, a bid of farewell, and even death.

What does an Orange Poppy Flower Mean?

Orange poppies appear like soft orange feathers. The Spanish poppy (Papaver rupifragum) is the all time favorite orange poppy. It symbolizes health and regeneration.

What does a Purple Poppy Flower Symbolize?

Purple poppies are also flowers of remembrance. It specifically symbolizes the remembrance of animal victims during times of war.

What does a Pink Poppy Flower Represent?

Pink poppies are very special. Like many pink flowers, a pink poppy represents a platonic love or a love between friends. 

What does a Yellow Poppy Flower Indicate?

Yellow is surely a lucky color – especially when poppies bloom in this shade! Yellow poppies are symbolic of amassed wealth and soaring success! It is also associated with positive memories and the bright side of life.

orange poppy

What is the Cultural Significance of a Poppy Blossom?

Poppies are very deeply rooted in many cultures in many countries across the globe. It is mostly symbolic of all the various wars (including Napoleonic wars) that honor the military service of ex servicemen and fallen soldiers.

The poppy as a symbol of remembrance day was honored in other countries with an alliance such as the United States, Great Britain, France, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. This movement was inspired by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae and the poem he wrote after World War I. He was also noted as a Canadian doctor.

Additionally, English-speaking countries also adopted poppies in the 19th century as the official flower to commemorate Veterans Day or Memorial Day (or Remembrance Sunday) and remember those who have fallen during the war. 

Many believe that these flowers suddenly sprang from the Flanders field after the Duke of Wellington’s victory. It was also said to be symbolic of the blood of troops who braved the battlefront during the war in the poem in Flanders Fields.

That is why a custom today has been celebrated every year that the memorial day weekend comes. Since poppies symbolize remembrance, only poppy flowers were used by the Earl Haig fund to raise money for war orphans. Anna Guérin supplied the artificial flowers while Moina Michael shared the idea. Over nine million poppies were sold and the remembrance lies in every poppy sold.

In France, there is a festival known as Armistice Day. It is celebrated on the 11th day of the 11th month of the year. Artificial Poppies during the feast are worn on clothing to signify peace and the end of the First World War in 1918.

Because of the movement of poppies blow that has left desolate and hopeful memories today, the American legion adopted flowers as its symbol in 1921 inspired by John McCrae’s poem. The Royal British Legion now also holds an annual fundraiser for the day of remembrance. 

What is the Spiritual Meaning of a Poppy Floret?

Poppies have a positive and peaceful influence on a spiritual level. It radiates with a purity that helps embody universal love. In the process of living a life full of love, these flowers maintain the balance necessary during rapid phases of changes in emotions. 

The extremes of physical and etheric levels are balanced. It keeps in check the blending of survival and spiritual aspects of life to create overall harmony. 

The presence of Papaver flowers enables one to fully experience the deep levels of serenity and restful sleep. It opens up new horizons that help create a high form of oneself.

What are the Folktales Associated with a Poppy Bloom?

With the deep meaning and symbolism embedded in these flowers, it’s no wonder that a lot of folktales and myths are also associated with them. 

In ancient Greece, red poppies invaded vast fields of wheat and barley. Corn and other grain crops would not sprout and flourish without the presence of these flowers! The famous Greek myth says that this signals the beginning of Spring and the return of Persephone to her mother – the goddess Demeter of grains and harvest. 

There is another myth that associates poppies with another Greek god. It is believed that the flowers represent Morpheus, the Greek god of sleep and dreams. 

Other folktales tell about the good luck poppy seeds bring forth when worn on clothing. Some say that wishing upon a Poppy or tucking it under a pillow before bed will answer your deepest desires and wildest dreams!

What does a Poppy Floral Tattoo Symbolize? 

Poppy tattoos have a very beautiful symbolic meaning. Those who choose this design want to embody the sacrifice of a loved one who died in war or battle. It represents their memories that are remembered in heart and mind. 

In some cases, this tattoo indicates forthcoming good luck and bountiful blessings.

Uses of Poppy Plants

You’ve probably guessed it by now that poppies have multiple uses. It can be grown as a garden flower (with proper crop rotation) or potted plant and is the perfect gift for friends and family. Thinking of sharing these beauties with some friends? Poppies make a beautiful arrangement of cut fresh flowers on poppy bouquets or vases! 

There are also other interesting uses for poppies. During the Victorian era, ladies often crushed the petals of red flowers as a dye for nail color. They also steeped these in vinegar for 10 days as a kind of soothing bath for body itches and rashes. 

Aside from the petals, the seeds also have culinary uses! The seeds of Opium poppies are not only for the known drug morphine. It is actually an important food source of spice flavoring and cooking oil. In fact, the French substitute olive oil for poppy oil! Some Asian cooking customs also use Poppy seed oil in making delectable sweets!

It can be used in many cooked dishes and baked confectionaries. Most cuisines grind the seeds as a curry spice or fried in butter and added to noodles! These can also be consumed fresh on salads and coleslaw.

Ancient times also note that poppy letters home many good days to remember.

~ image source: depositphotos/Anegada

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