Magnolia Flower Meaning and Symbolism

November 27, 2021 | Interesting facts

If you are looking for a flower that is unique, beautiful and sweet scented, Magnolia is an ideal choice. Its beauty is breathtaking, and you’ll quickly become attracted to the scent of this flower. Aside from its charming appearance, Magnolia holds a different meaning in various cultures.

What Does Magnolia Mean?

Magnolia is a genus of more than 200 species of flowering plants in the family of Magnoliaceae, native to tropical, subtropical and temperate regions of Asia and Central America.

They are trees or large shrubs, with showy fragrant flowers and large glossy leaves. The flowers are actually composed of petal-like “tepals”, which are primitive combination of petals and sepals that are fused together.
These plants differ in size, shape and color, and can grow more than 20 m (65 ft) in height.

The name of the flower was proposed by Charles Plumier in honor of Pierre Magnol, a 17th century French botanist who invented the concept of grouping plants in families.

What Do Magnolias Symbolize?

Considering that Magnolia is believed to have existed from the beginning of time, it symbolizes endurance, longevity and perseverance.
In fact, the Magnolias are thought to be one of the first flowering plants to evolve on Earth, with their fossils dating back over 100 million years, long before there were any bees!
Their lifespan is also long. Many species are known to have lifespans of over 100 years.

Magnolias are also known as a symbol of dignity and nobility. They are attractive in appearance and have noble connotations as well. Even royals and nobles prize them for their beauty and elegance.

Their symbolism is often tied to feminine sweetness, innocence, purity and beauty, but at the same time they symbolize power and pride.
A “Steel Magnolia” is a popular phrase that emerged from the 1989 movie “Steel Magnolias”, in which six Southern women face their greatest fears and highest hopes. The phrase represents a Southern woman who is independent and strong, yet very feminine. A Steel Magnolia is a resilient woman who possess both traditional femininity and uncommon fortitude. It is an attitude, a way of life based on strong character and integrity, all with a feminine touch.
Considering the above, Magnolias are often used in wedding bouquets to represent the pride, dignity and purity of the bride.

But as with most other types of flowers, the different colors of Magnolias can symbolize different things like passion, love, romance, happiness, joy and friendship.

The Meaning of Magnolias in Different Cultures

There is no doubt that Magnolias are attractive and elegant in appearance, with sweet fragrance that is just impossible not to fall in love with.
However, they symbolize different things in different cultures and traditions around the world.

The Symbolic Meaning of Magnolia Flower in the United States

In the United States, Magnolia has always been considered to be a harbinger of the spring season. Nothing heralds spring’s arrival like the Magnolia and its graceful flowers.

Eight species of Magnolia are native to the United States, with the greatest concentration in the southeastern United States.

The most popular species in the United States is Magnolia grandiflora, widely known as Southern Magnolia, which is also the state flower of Louisiana and Mississippi.
Southern Magnolia was designated the state flower of Louisiana in 1900. In Louisiana, these flowers bloom in early spring and are real eye-catchers.
The species was also designated the state flower of Mississippi by legislative act in 1952. “The Magnolia State” is the official nickname for the state of Mississippi, and it’s easy to see its popularity in this state.

Southern Magnolia grows naturally from North Carolina to Florida and west to Texas, but it is more identified with the southern part of the United States.

The city of Houston, Texas is known as the “Magnolia City” for its natural Magnolia groves found flowering in East Houston. It is one of the earliest of Houston’s many nicknames, but is no longer common. However, Magnolias still thrive in the Houston area, in spite of the subtropical climate, and warm as well as completely dry soil.

The Curious Symbolism of Magnolias in Chinese Culture

Along with many other flowers grown in China, the Magnolia is full of symbolic meaning. It is a symbol of purity and nobility, although it can also symbolize prosperity and good health.

In ancient times, the Chinese Emperors and members of their family were the only ones allowed to grow and cultivate Magnolias, while the emperor was the only person able to own them to ensure his well-being. During the Tang Dynasty (618–907), Magnolia was often planted in the grounds of the Emperor’s palace. Today, these flowers are available to everyone, while also retaining their noble status in the hearts of the people.

Magnolia is a traditional medicinal and ornamental plant in China.
It has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to treat various conditions, including lung problems, heart diseases, dementia, stress and anxiety.

There are many flowers in China that are both meaningful and beautiful, and Magnolia is one of them. While China is home to some of the most popular species of Magnolia, only a few are most commonly encountered throughout the state. The most popular species are Magnolia liliiflora (Mulan magnolia), and Magnolia denudata (Yulan Magnolia), both native to China.
Many cities celebrate spring’s arrival with these beautiful flowers, just like Shanghai. Magnolia denudata, also known as Yulan Magnolia, is the official city flower of Shanghai. It blossoms extraordinarily early, and is associated with the arrival of spring.

The Meaning and Importance of Magnolia Flower in Japanese Culture

The importance of flowers can be seen throughout Japanese culture. According to Japanese philosophy, flowers have their own language known as Hanakotoba. In the Japanese language of flowers, Magnolia symbolizes love for nature and harmony. It represents the harmony of nature and the co-existence of all natural life.

Magnolia also represents dignity, perseverance and immortality.

Magnolia kobus, also known as Japanese Magnolia or Kobushi Magnolia, is the most popular species of Magnolia in Japan. The specific epithet comes from the Japanese word “kobushi” meaning “fist”, in reference to its flower bud that looks like a small fist. Kobushi Magnolia is a lovely deciduous tree or large shrub that produces large scented white flowers in spring.

Another popular species in Japan is Magnolia stellata, commonly known as Star Magnolia or just Shidekobushi. This shrub or small tree is native to Japan and closely related to Magnolia kobus. Its star-shaped, pure white flowers appear in late winter and early spring, typically just before new leaves emerge.

Magnolia: The National Flower of North Korea

Siebold’s Magnolia (Magnolia sieboldii) is the North Korean national flower. Also known as Korean Mountain Magnolia and Oyama Magnolia, this beauty is among the loveliest of the species, especially in North Korea.

It symbolizes the national character of the country that has gone through hardships and is determined to stay firm. It represents power and authority, as well as courage.

Not only is it used in celebrations and ceremonies across the country, but it is also used as a symbol of strength and resistance.

Siebold’s Magnolia grows naturally at the foot of mountains, protected from strong winds and ice. It is exceptionally hardy, with large flowers during summer months.

Different Colors of Magnolias and Their Meaning

Magnolia produces purple, white, pink, red and yellow flowers, depending on the variety. There are many different kinds of Magnolias and many different colors to choose from. They hold a different meaning, and each color represents something unique.

Let’s look at what each color represents individually:

Purple Magnolias

Purple Magnolias are associated with nobility and feelings of dignity, but they can also symbolize good luck and health.

They symbolize nobility in living, thinking, and doing. Give them to someone who has noble character and is not afraid to confront challenges.

Magnolias are dignified, and their fragrance is heavenly. It is well known that fragrance can heal and affect not only mental health, but also physical conditions of our body, therefore Magnolias are ideal for wishing someone good health or fast recovery.

White Magnolias

White Magnolia is a symbol of purity, innocence and perfection, and a popular way to send a message of kindness to anyone you love.

In the southern United States, these beauties are commonly seen in bridal bouquets, symbolising the bride’s beauty and purity.

Pink Magnolias

Pink Magnolias represent romance and femininity.

They are an undeniably romantic choice for wedding flowers and decorations! They are perfect gifts for Valentine’s Day and anniversaries, or just to show you care.

Red Magnolias

Red Magnolias symbolize love and passion.

They are a beautiful gift for the one you love, and it will make a clear statement that you’re ready and open for a relationship.

Yellow Magnolias

Yellow Magnolia mean happiness, joy and friendship.

Yellow Magnolias are often given to loved ones as a way to bring joy and cheer into everyday life. They make great gifts to remind someone about all the happiness in life.