Mexico's National Flowers
Table of Contents
- Written by Holly Hughes on January 24, 2022
Flowers have been embedded in Mexican culture for centuries as centerpieces to the nation’s happiness, grief, and health. Mexican flowers have held symbolic, religious and even medicinal powers in the country’s rich history, dating back to the time of the Aztecs.
They were an important feature in Mexican ceremonies where plants native to Mexico would be placed on the statues of deities. Meanwhile, Mexican bouquets would be exchanged on the feast of Tlaxochimako, an entire festival dedicated to the bestowal of flowers. According to Diego Duran, a Dominican Friar in the sixteenth century, nothing would give Aztec societies in Mexico more pleasure than smelling and appreciating any type of Mexico’s national flowers.
To celebrate this ritual and ornamental love of flowers, this article will look at some of Mexico’s most popular blooms and the significance they still carry today. We will look at how different Aztec flowers are used in traditional Mexican celebrations such as Dia De Los Muertos – a celebration to remember ancestors who have passed and welcome home spirits. And we will discover how to make your own Mexican-style bouquets to channel Mexico’s beautiful traditions of healing through flower-arranging and giving.
What is the national flower of Mexico?
Though there are several plants in Mexico that represent aspects of the nation’s history, culture, and traditions, Mexico’s national flower is indisputably the Dahlia. This bright and cheerful flower became an important national symbol in the time of the Aztecs, who used it for multiple purposes including for food, carrying water, medicine and as a symbolic ornament.
In Mexico’s floriography, dahlias symbolize wealth, elegance, and dignity. They are considered to represent those who stay true to their values.
The flower was also used as a food source, the Aztecs eating the tubers the plant produces. Thus, it was incredibly important to the survival of Mexico’s communities, this being publicly recognized when, in 1963, it was declared the official flower of Mexico.
What are other traditional Mexican flowers?
Flowers were cultivated and used in Mexico by the Aztecs in many different ways – from creating floral arrangements to medicines, dyes and adornments. Mexico’s undulating climate and geography also means it is possible to grow a wide variety of flowers, which is evident in the many other popular flowers native to Mexico. Let’s look at some of them.
Marigolds are one of the most popular flowers in Mexico as they are commonly used in the Mexican holiday, Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). These warm-colored blooms are one of the purest offerings to Mexican deities. It is believed their scent can guide spirits home and this is why they are traditionally used in occasions of grief and religious ceremonies.
The laelia orchid is another popular Mexican flower. A union between sturdiness and delicacy, this orchid symbolizes love, beauty, and decadence. Sometimes known as the “rosy-tinted laelia”, it’s not hard to see why it is so beloved. Many families in Mexico like to bring this plant and its evocative pink blossoms into their homes as glorious table centerpieces.
Gladioli, or sword lilies, are also symbolic in Mexico’s festival for the dead, representing sympathy and memories. The various colors of gladioli, including reds, yellows, and pinks and its distinctive sword-like shape make them a vibrant and evocative addition to any arrangement.
Mexico’s many wildflowers
However, many of Mexico’s most beautiful, recognizable, and symbolic flowers are in fact the ones that grow in the wild. Take the Mexican sunflower, for example. Densely growing shrubs with petals flecked in brilliant shades of yellow and red, this plant is famous in Mexico as a symbol of faith, loyalty and adoration.
Or consider the Mexican poppy. Usually found in nature and not used for commercial purposes, this yellow and white wildflower has long standing medicinal uses in Mexico. Blooming in the Spring, it is considered in Mexico to be a symbol of peace and sleep.
Plants from Mexico
As well as this heady array of flowers, there are many beautiful plants native to Mexico. Bromeliads, ferns, succulents, poinsettia, and cacti are just some of the plants that flourish there.
However, perhaps the most well-known is the poinsettia, which is considered to be Mexico’s – and indeed, many country’s – Christmas flower. The vibrant red coloring and star-shaped leaves that look like festive ornaments perfectly epitomize Christmastime for many of us.
As a wonderful houseplant, it’s one of many Mexican indoor plants you can add to your home to create a green and exotic oasis. Find this and other indoor plants native to Mexico – like the fortuitous Mexican money tree – at Plants.com.
Mexican-style flower arrangements
With such a rich history of using flowers as ornaments and homages to the dead, it isn’t surprising that flower arranging continues to be a widely beloved art form in Mexico. You can recreate this for yourself by ordering flower arrangements just like those found in Mexico that include some of the popular Mexican flowers we’ve discussed above.
Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, have a go at flower arranging at home with a subscription service from MonthlyClubs, BloomsyBox, or EnjoyFlowers. Try celebrating Dia De Los Muertos by sculpting your own bouquet using the festival’s popular blooms. As well as the festival’s official flower (the Mexican marigold), combine chrysanthemums, gladiolus, cockscomb and baby’s breath for a sumptuous and symbolic arrangement.
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