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One of the most striking plants in the world, the anthurium flower features a distinctive heart shape and vivid colors, bringing a touch of the tropics to your home. Here’s what makes it special, along with its symbolic meanings and practical uses today.
About the Anthurium
Native to tropical American rainforests, these exotic flowers are from the Anthurium genus of the Araceae family. Its botanical name is derived from the Greek terms anthos and oura, which translate to bloom and tail respectively. They’re also called flamingo lily, painted tongue and pigtail plant.
The heart-shaped structure of the plant isn’t actually a flower but a spathe, which is a large bract or modified leaf. Their true flowers are the little bumps on the spadix—the fleshy, finger-shaped spike on the center of the spathe. Anthurium has a glossy or even lacquered appearance and can be seen in red, purple, pink, white, green and orange, and usually has a yellow and white flower spike. They’re long-lasting as cut flowers.
The most popular variety is the A. andraeanum that grows up to 2 feet tall. However, the A. scherzeranum is shorter and features a loosely coiled spadix instead of a tail-like spike. Since anthuriums are tropical plants, they thrive best in warm temperatures, but can still be grown in greenhouses in colder regions.
- Interesting Fact: Did you know most varieties of this flower are epiphytes, which grows on the surface of other plants? There are many shapes of anthuriums—think of tulip-shaped, cup-shaped, heart-shaped and even ribbon-shaped!
Meaning and Symbolism of the Anthurium
Anthuriums have gained several meanings in different cultures. Here are some of them:
- Love and Romance – Also called the Heart of Hawaii, the flower reminds us of love and adoration with their heart shape. In Feng Shui, anthuriums are believed to bring luck in relationships. In Greek myth, they’re regarded as the arrows of Cupid, the god of love and attraction, who could make people fall in love.
- A Symbol of Sensuality – Sometimes referred to as Boy Flower and Painted Tongue, anthuriums have become associated with lusty love, sexuality or even sex, probably because of its exotic appearance.
- Hospitality – With its open heart-shaped flower, the flower symbolizes hospitality—not to mention it makes any room feel cozy and homey.
- Happiness and Abundance – Anthuriums can be seen in bold, bright colors, giving off good vibes. Its unique appearance not only also adds a dash of luxury to homes, but is also said to attract positivity and abundance.
- In some contexts, the flower also represents exotic beauty, with its one-of-a-kind look, intense colors and patterns.
Uses of Anthurium Flower Throughout History
For centuries, anthuriums have been prized for their exotic beauty and cultivated as ornamental plants. Did you know they’re valued too for their air-purifying properties? Here are some of the flower’s uses.
- As Ornamental Plants
Hundreds of years ago, anthuriums were untouched in the rainforests of America—not until the late 1800s, when they were introduced to Hawaii. Later, anthuriums have been selectively bred to produce colorful flower varieties. They became one of the most popular flowers in the country and eventually spread to other regions of the world.
Nowadays, they’re recognized by NASA as an air purifying plant. It’s said that their leaves can remove toxins in the air, including ammonia, formaldehyde, xylene and toluene, just to name a few. It makes them an ideal plant décor at offices, especially around printers, adhesives and copiers!
- In Medicine
Back in the day, the steam of the flower was used to relieve arthritis and rheumatism. Also, it was utilized as a poultice for cramps and muscle pain. However, all parts of the bloom contain calcium oxalate crystals, which are poisonous and irritating to the skin.
The Anthurium Flower in Use Today
Anthuriums are perfect for those who are green thumb challenged yet love the beauty of houseplants indoors. These flowers love humid environments, but never expose them to direct sunlight. You can have them in a warm, well-lit spot in your home or even place them in a tall glass of water to decorate your kitchen and windows year-round.
For summer parties and backyard BBQs, think of anthuriums to create the perfect tropical scene. If you’re creative enough, you can even arrange these blooms in fruit vases—watermelon, pineapple and coconut—instead of throwing the fruit shells away. They have the longest vase life of most flowers.
Anthuriums might not be a typical bridal flower, but they’re perfect for tropical and summer weddings, adding character to floral arrangements. In fact, they can make your reception tables cheery and inviting. For a modern bride, pastel pink and white anthuriums are best paired with roses and lilacs to create a lovely bouquet.
When to Give Anthurium Flowers
- If you want to give messages of love, send a bouquet of these flowers to your friends and loved ones.
- Since they have an adorable heart shape, red anthuriums are perfect for Valentine’s Day, anniversaries and any romantic occasion. There’s no natural blue anthurium, but there’s a ‘Princess Alexia Blue’ which is perfect for the holidays.
- While giving cut flowers as a gift is traditional on Mother’s Day, you can also opt for a flowering plant that can be grown throughout the year.
- They’re an ideal decorative gift, but they can also be a thoughtful way to express your deepest sympathies.
- With their association with happiness and abundance, anthuriums can be a perfect congratulatory gift for graduates and those starting a new business or career.
- Anthuriums make a wonderful hostess or housewarming gift too.
- Also, they’re a non-traditional birthday present for those who love to be unconventional and go against the norm.
Anthuriums are a tropical, exotic and eye-catching flower with a range of uses. Their symbolism and beauty make them highly versatile for a variety of occasions and they can be used as cut flowers, gifts, or a way to add a burst of color to your décor.