Hibiscus Flower Meaning

Hibiscus Flower Meaning

The meaning of hibiscus flowers goes back many generations. While most of us associate the hibiscus flower with the state of Hawaii, it is actually a native of Southern China where experts estimate that is has been growing since the 1200’s. The hibiscus eventually migrated its way to India and all the way over to Hawaii. It wasn’t until the 1700’s that the hibiscus started being grown in areas across Europe. Hibiscus plants didn’t make their way over to the United States until the 19th century. Because this plant can be found all over the world, there are many different stories and beliefs regarding the meaning of hibiscus flowers. Read on to learn some of the most prominent stories behind the meaning of hibiscus flowers as well as some interesting facts regarding this plant.

National Importance

The hibiscus flower is an important symbol to many countries. Some nations use the flower as a symbol of representation. For instance, the national flower of Malaysia is the rosa-sinensis variety of hibiscus and the syriacuse variety is the national flower of South Korea. In Malaysia, the rosa-sinensis also goes by the name ‘bunga raya,’ but may also be called ‘rosemallow’ and ‘Chinese hibiscus’ in other parts of the world. The Malaysian nickname for the hibiscus literally translates into ‘big flower’ which is definitely an accurate description, to say the least! In this country the flower’s beautiful red color is a reminder of life, bravery, and the quick rise and spread of the Malaysian country. There are five petals on the hibiscus flower and in Malaysia this stands for the five Rukunegara, a national declaration of national goals or civil code of conduct.

For nations such as India, with a high population that hold the Hindu belief, the red hibiscus flower is associated with a goddess called Kali. Many works of art depict the goddess with the red hibiscus flower; such artwork is especially common in India. In addition to being a national flower to these countries, the hibiscus is also the state flower of Hawaii. In this state it is not uncommon for the hibiscus to be work behind the ear as a symbol of a female’s relationship status. If the flower is worn behind her right ear then it is a signal that she is available or single. If the hibiscus flower is work behind her left ear then it means she is in a relationship or married. Although this is not a strict “system” in Hawaii, it is still practiced by some of the women in Hawaii. In Hawaii, the hibiscus flower also is a sign of nobility and power.

The History of Hibiscus

Throughout history, and even today, the meaning of hibiscus flowers was simple and quite basic. The hibiscus plant is pretty picky when it comes to sunlight, humidity, and temperature requirements, therefore getting one to bloom would mean having nice weather conditions. Because of the plant’s tendency towards being finicky, the hibiscus flower became a sign that the area is having a nice summer—nice enough, at least, to coax the hibiscus plant to produce flowers! In Victorian times many flowers gained a popular meaning for which they could then be used to send a message—this is referred to as the language of flowers. For instance, different colors of carnation can be a sign of love, friendship, innocence, or rejection. In this language, the hibiscus flower is a sign of delicate, rare, or exotic beauty.

Meaning of Hibiscus Flowers in the Fashion World

In many nations this plant is used as a decorative accessory in both women and men’s fashion. Today we see Hawaiian style clothing that depicts a pattern of the hibiscus flower but the tradition of using hibiscus as a fashion statement goes back hundreds of years. Hibiscus flowers have been used to adorn hair styles and have been attached to clothing as a decorative touch. Some facts that you might be surprised to learn about the hibiscus are that they used to be used to add a bit of shine to shoes and were even used to create a dye for footwear.

The Meaning of Hibiscus Flowers in Medicine

Many people are shocked to learn that the hibiscus flower is actually edible. In fact, the flavor of the hibiscus is likened to a strong citrus taste. In the Pacific Islands you might find this flower tossed in with a nice, fresh salad but the truly popular use for hibiscus throughout history is the form of medicinal tea. Herbal hibiscus tea is made by infusing dried sepals from the sabdariffa variety of hibiscus through the boiling method. This tea can be drunk hot or cold and has been shown to reduce blood pressure, especially in people who suffer from Type 2 diabetes. Hibiscus tea can also be used to provide a cooling effect in the body—a trick that even ancient Egyptian pharaohs were known to use! Recent studies can also suggest that, much like a glass of red wine, hibiscus tea could be of use in helping to lower cholesterol.