Myrtle Flower Meaning and Symbolism

Myrtle flowers are beautiful starry blooms that are usually white and are grown across the world for their beauty. 

Myrtle flowers symbolize love, warmth, affection, and beauty.

But these gorgeous flowers are also entrenched in myth and ritual, too. Let’s take a look.

At A Glance: The Myrtle Flower

The myrtle flower blooms on a green shrub, hailing from the Mediterranean or North Africa, depending on the species. 

You can recognize it by its starry white petals, and long soft stamen that protrudes from the flower.

These flowers are often followed by round berries, which act as a source of food for birds. These beautiful plants are grown all over the world for their beauty, usually as decorative hedges.

Myrtus communis, or the Common myrtle, comes from the Mediterranean and is the most widespread, while Myrtus nivellei, the Saharan myrtle can be found growing in North Africa.

It’s often used as part of wedding decorations, more often than its use as part of a floral arrangement. 

It also has some historical herbal uses, where it was used to treat sinus infections and scalp complaints.

Some countries use common myrtle to substitute pepper in dishes or to make Mirto liqueur.

Where Does The Name Myrtle Come From?

The name Myrtle was given to the plant genus, though it also goes by the name Myrtus, derived from the Greek myrtos. Many people have named Myrtle after these beautiful flowers, and this practice started in the 1800s.

What Do Myrtle Flowers Mean?

Myrtle flowers have a range of meanings. They are often included in weddings to represent the bride’s beauty and innocence (most famously in Queen Victoria’s wedding bouquet, and every royal wedding bouquet since).

In Greek mythology, myrtle was held sacred to Aphrodite and Demeter and was incorporated into rituals as offerings. 

In Rome, myrtle was associated with Venus, the goddess of love and fertility, and carries these associations, too.

In some cultures, myrtle represents good fortune, well wishes, courage, love, and inner peace.

Myrtle Flowers In Different Cultures

Myrtle crops up time and time again in Greek mythology, linked to the story of Adonis, the Graces, and Aphrodite.

In the ancient Roman festival of Veneralia which happened on the first day of April, women would bathe with crowns made of myrtle branches.

In the Roman poet Virgil’s epic poem the Aeneid, the plant is used to mark the grave of Polydorus as part of the myth of the Trojan War, who was murdered. 

The wood of the myrtle shrub was made from the spears that caused his death. Aeneas, a Trojan hero, tried to uproot the plant, and the shrub made the ground bleed in protest.

In Judaism, the myrtle flower is one of four plants held sacred, especially during the Sukkot holiday. 

As the myrtle has a pleasant smell but many who eat it don’t enjoy the taste, this represents people who do good, but don’t follow the Torah. 

What Does A Myrtle Flower Tattoo Mean?

As myrtle is used to symbolize milestones in life, such as getting married or celebrating the life of someone who has died, you might choose a myrtle flower tattoo to represent an important event in your life, or how time is fleeting.

Some people use a myrtle flower as a tattoo to memorialize someone, but these aren’t the only reasons.

Others get a myrtle flower as a tattoo to symbolize the love in their life, as a reminder of how lucky they are, or to mark a turning point in their life that has molded them into the person they are.

When Is The Best Time To Give Someone A Myrtle Flower?

You can use myrtle as a gift for pretty much any occasion where you want to tell someone that you love them and care for them deeply.

It’s a good choice for weddings, as it has been used for this purpose for hundreds of years.

A myrtle flower is also a good option when you want to show someone your support and loyalty, especially if they have just lost someone important to them. 

It represents how you have their back no matter what, and is a physical reminder that they aren’t alone.

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