Crocus Flower Meaning And Symbolism

Crocus flowers are often seen as one of the first signs of renewal in a new year, as they are one of the first flowers to appear in the often still-freezing temperatures of spring.

You may also hear them being referred to as the ‘light bulb flower’, not only for the shape of the bloom before it opens, but also for the red-orange threads of the stigmas in a Saffron Crocus, which look like bulb filaments. 

As with any flower that we’re very familiar with, we can often assume there’s no deeper meaning behind the bloom besides when it flowers and what that can link to. 

But the crocus flower has a deeper meaning than that, and it’s worth knowing, especially if you plan on gifting someone crocuses.

What does ‘Crocus’ Mean?

The name ‘Crocus’ comes from the Greek word krokos, and this is probably derived from the Arabic, كركم kurkum, the word for saffron. 

While the English name came from a 16th century adopted version of the Latin crocatus for ‘saffron yellow’, there was already the Old English term for saffron, croh. 

There is only one specific type of crocus flower that produces saffron, known as Crocus sativus, or the saffron crocus. This plant flowers during the autumn months (see also Spectacular Plants For Autumn), producing fantastic blooms of color during the colder months, if nothing else. 

Part of the Iris family, crocus flowers come under their own genus, known as the crocus genus. 

There’s around 90 perennial species of these lovely flowers, and while we mainly know them for flowering during spring, you also get autumn and winter blooming types. 

What is the Significance Behind the Crocus Flower?

Crocus flowers largely represent joy and happiness, not only for when they first appear in spring (see also Colorful Spring Flowers) after the harsh conditions of winter, but also when most flowers have finished. It’s a reminder that while the flush of color of summer is over, it’s not the end. 

If you plant crocuses which flower at different times, you can nearly have these gorgeous colors flowering all year round.

Crocuses also represent positivity, optimism, the joy of youth, and mirth. Of course, there are additional meanings depending on the color of the crocus flower.

What does a White Crocus Flower Symbolize?

White crocuses embody truth, grace, remembrance, and spirituality.

What does a Purple Crocus Flower Mean?

Purple crocus flowers represent success, power, and elegance.

What does a Yellow Crocus Flower Signify?

Like most yellow flowers, yellow crocuses symbolize positivity, joy, and optimism when it comes to the future and all its possibilities.

What is the Cultural Significance Behind the Crocus Flower?

In Greek mythology, Crocus was a mortal boy in his prime. The story goes that he loved a dryad nymph named Smilax. 

Within all versions of the myth, it was an unattainable love. In some, Crocus’s affections weren’t returned. In another, they were forbidden to be together. 

Other versions tell of a passionate love affair that soon dwindled on Smilax’s end, who regarded Crocus as a novelty rather than a soulmate, like he seemed to see her. 

Well, it didn’t really matter which, as this love caused Crocus such pain that the gods took pity on him. They transformed him into the flower that we know today. 

In another version, Smilax herself was sick of him bothering her after she told him no, so she turned him into a crocus, where his orange stigmas were symbolic of his undiminished passion for her.

Smilax, however, didn’t get such a nice final form. She was turned into bindweed, the bane of gardeners everywhere.

What does a Crocus Flower Tattoo Mean?

Crocuses, when used as a subject for a tattoo, have a myriad of meanings. This tattoo may symbolize a love of mythology, or point to a moment in your life which took you on a different path. 

It can also be a promise to recognize every opportunity as it comes, each a chance for renewal or rebirth.

When Should You Give Someone Crocus Flowers?

Crocus flowers are appropriate for any occasion, as they are uplifting flowers which have a wealth of positive meaning. Just be careful that the color of the crocuses matches with your intentions, so that you get the right message across!

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