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Known for its dark green leaves and short-stalked flowers, stephanotis has long been cherished for its beauty and sweet scent. Let’s find out how and why the stephanotis became a popular wedding flower, along with its origin and symbolic meanings.
About the Stephanotis Flower
Native to Madagascar and Southeast Asia, Stephanotis is the genus of climbing plants in the Asclepiadaceae family. The most common variety is the Stephanotis floribunda, also called Madagascar jasmine—though it doesn’t belong to the jasmine family. The confusion only arose due to the similarities of the scent and appearance of two flowers.
The name Stephanotis was derived from the Greek terms stephanos, which means crown, and otis which translates to ear? This could be because the appearance of its tubular base resembles an ear canal, opening into five crown-like lobes. The vine-like shrub can grow more than 20 feet high, featuring glossy, oval-shaped leaves and starry, white flowers in clusters.
These blooms are great for adding perfume to the garden, though they only flourish in sunny, tropical regions, and cannot survive frost, as well as sudden changes in temperatures. With enough warmth, light, and humidity, stephanotis can bloom at any time of the year, especially in the late spring and late summer into fall.
Meaning and Symbolism of Stephanotis
When choosing the perfect wedding flowers, symbolic meanings are sometimes more important than aesthetic appeal. Fortunately, stephanotis represents marriage itself. Here are some of its meanings:
- Happiness in Marriage – Sometimes called the bridal veil or Hawaiian wedding flower, stephanotis symbolizes marital bliss. No wonder, it’s the traditional bloom in wedding bouquets, centerpieces, and even cakes.
- A Symbol of Purity – The flower features a white color and delicate shape, making it a perfect representation of purity, as well as an embodiment of the loving relationship of the couple.
- Good Fortune and Luck – In some cultures, the bloom is regarded as a lucky charm. Family and friends will give their best wishes on the wedding day, and the flower is believed to bring good luck to the bride.
- Desire for New Adventures – It’s the creative way to say, “Come with me,” or “I’d like to travel with you,” which is fitting for newly engaged or married couples who are ready to embark on new adventures together.
Uses of Stephanotis Flower throughout History
These fragrant, white blooms have been used in a variety of ways for centuries, including in perfumes and cosmetics.
- In Magic and Superstition
During ancient times, stephanotis was used as perfume to attract lovers. It’s thought to be associated with the mysteries of pheromones, where scents can influence what we find attractive. Did you know that it’s regarded as one of the most fragrant blooms in the world, and even called Fleur Parfum?
- In Gastronomy
While it’s commonly used as garnish and as wedding cake toppers, stephanotis inspires sugar flower designs, usually depicted in artistic-looking candies and cake decorations for special occasions. The plant isn’t edible, but it isn’t toxic either.
- In Beauty
During medieval times, it’s thought the bloom was utilized in making cosmetics and complexion powders for preventing freckles, flushing of the face, redness, blemishes, and skin discolorations. Some believed it has tonic, cooling, and astringent properties, which helped in maintaining a natural, youthful complexion.
The Stephanotis Flower in Use Today
In tropical regions, these flowers are perfect for outdoor gardens, borders, and covers for fences. It’s an exotic climbing vine that will add color and beauty to your cottage garden design. In colder climates, stephanotis can be grown in greenhouses, hothouses, and containers.
Because stephanotis has a fragrant yet not overpowering scent, it’s ideal for decorating indoors without taking up much space. However, make sure to keep temperatures regulated and place them in areas they can get plenty of light. Also, they can be grown in large pots, twined around wooden canes or wire frames, which can be displayed on decks and patios.
Since these blooms represent marital bliss, they’re commonly used in wedding bouquets, boutonnières, corsages, centerpieces, and wreaths. A bouquet of stephanotis can be striking, but they’re commonly used as a filler flower with other blooms.
When to Give Stephanotis Flowers
Since these flowers are associated with marriage, it’s the best gift to congratulate newly engaged couples, as a wish for future wedded bliss. Also, stephanotis is a great floral gift for Valentine’s Day, as well as anniversaries. These blooms are incredibly versatile and can be mixed with other flowers to reflect your sentiments. More than that, they’re an ideal gift for plant lovers—think of birthdays, promotion parties, and even Mother’s Day.
As a symbol of marital happiness, stephanotis remains a favorite flower for weddings. In fact, it’s one of the blooms that say ‘I do.’ These star-shaped, white flowers will also add some fragrance to your gardens.