Flower Facts Flower Information

The Secret Origins of Popular Flower Names

Origins Of Flower Names

Let’s just go ahead and say it: flower names are usually pretty weird (but sometimes cool!). “Peony,” “ranunculus,” “chrysanthemum”… Where the heck did these strange names come from?

If you’re curious about some of the most popular flower name origins… hold tight! We’ve got the perfect list for you, and we’re pretty sure you’re going to be blown away by these fascinating origins of flower names. Actually, we’ll go ahead and guarantee it!


Calla Lily

Calla lilies got their name from the Greek word calla, which literally translates to “most beautiful” (we agree!).

One Greek legend says that when Aphrodite—the goddess of love, beauty, and desire—saw callas, she fell into a raging fit of jealousy at their attractiveness and cursed the flowers by putting a large yellow pistil in the center of their bloom. Her goal was to take away from the calla’s allure, but, if we’re being honest, we kind of think the spike adds a nice touch.

And thanks to the phallic nature of the central spike, callas are often associated with lust, sexuality, and fertility.


The term carnation first appeared in English in the 16th century, and there are two possible explanations for how carnations got that unique name.

One etymological explanation states that carnation could be a twist on the word coronation because the flower’s rigid blooms resemble a crown. Or it could be due to the fact that carnations were commonly worn as garlands during ceremonies and – you guessed it – coronations!

The other possible etymology of coronation stems from the flower’s original pinkish color. The Middle French word carnation means “pink complexion,” while the Latin word “caro” means flesh, both of which could be references to its pink appearance.


We’ll warn you now – the etymology of chrysanthemum is definitely a lot more straightforward than the first two popular flowers on this list.

Chrysanthemums are commonly known for their trademark large, golden blooms. And sure enough, their name comes from the Greek word krysanthemon, which directly translates to “gold flower”. A little on the nose, don’t you think?


Daisies got their cutesy name from their rather peculiar behavior of closing their eyes and sleeping at night. Seriously! Every night daisies close their white petals over their yellow centers (or eyes), only reopening them during the day. They love themselves some shut-eye!

Well, the origin of daisy comes from the Old English phrase daes eag, meaning “day’s eye.” Get it? Daisy… day’s eye. Great! Moving on!


The word peony dates back to Old English and was believed to have been named after Paeon, the physician of the gods in Greek mythology, which makes sense considering early doctors believed that peonies carried healing properties.

Actually, peonies are still used today to treat PMS, menstrual cramps, and upset stomach. Keep fighting the good fight, peonies! We salute you!


Orchids are without a doubt the world’s most delightfully elegant flower. But just fair warning: the origin of this flower name is – let’s just say not quite as elegant.

Orchid comes from the Greek word orkhis, meaning “testicle”. Yeah, we know what you’re thinking: How can such a sophisticated flower have such a crude name origin?

Well… before becoming a cherished flower based on its delicate and exquisite appearance, some people (with questionable taste) thought the flower’s roots resembled the male genitalia. SMH…


The name ranunculus comes from two different Latin words. The first, rana, means “frog”, while the second, unculus, translates to “little”. It’s assumed that ranunculus earned this name because the teeny-tiny flowers typically grow along the sides of streams and ponds—the natural habitat of frogs.


In the 1500s, the Ottoman Turks discovered tulips in the mountains of India and Nepal. Once they brought them back, they quickly became a symbol of the wealth and decadence of the sprawling Ottoman Empire. The Turks went tulip crazy!

For a name, the Ottomans dubbed tulips tülbent, which directly translates to “turban”. According to the Turkish people, tulips resemble the headdress worn in many parts of the Middle East.


As you can see, popular flower name origins are downright interesting. And now that you have some new knowledge about the origins of flower names under your belt, you can drop some impressive facts on your friends!

And if you’re looking for some flowers, why not head over to The Bouqs Co. and grab yourself or a loved one a beautiful, handcrafted Bouq from our artisan florists? Trust us, you’ll love it!

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