IN OLDEN DAYS, the science of botanical linguistics was much studied, and young ladies devoted their leisure hours to parsing the bouquets sent by their admirers. In this first number of our occasional series, Dr. Boli elucidates some of the messages traditionally conveyed by familiar blooms since ancient times, explaining, where possible, the property of the flower that gives rise to its associated meaning.

Heliotrope. My suntan is real, not sprayed on. This flower is noted for its marvelous property of facing the sun at all times.

Hellebore. Thou dost bore me to blazes. The application is obscure but universal since medieval times.

Lobelia. Thy favor of the 16th inst. received. The lobelia is a member of the subfamily Lobelioideae of the family Campanulaceae, so there you go.

Mallow. I will stick by thee. An allusion to the mucilaginous qualities for which the plant is renowned.

Mock-Orange. I do not believe thee to be a veritable orange. The mock-orange bears the scent of the true orange, but shall we not judge it by its fruits?

Pineapple. I love thee in spite of thy various annoying qualities. The prickly skin and pointed leaves of this plant conceal a palatable fruit within.

Ranunculus. Thou art mistaken with regard to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The application is too obvious to require elucidation.

Rose (red). Please leave a message after the tone. From the earliest days of civilization, roses have conveyed messages between lovers in every part of the world.

Vervain. I am not eager to participate in the community meeting on Thursday night. Vervain, especially white vervain (Verbena urticifolia), is noted for its indifference to the affairs of its family and order.


  1. Jared says:

    Although not generally predisposed to bequeath bouquets, owing, perhaps, to a certain circumspection, nay bashfulness, on my part, I now find myself powerfully inclined to present a certain young woman with a spray of buttercups as an expression of my feelings regarding her position on reporting off-balance-sheet transactions. Thank you, Dr. Boli, for helping me work up the courage to offer this token of my undying affection for Pub.L. 107-204.

  2. Sean says:

    So that’s why I keep getting pineapples….

  1. […] In July, by special arrangement, we were able to reprint the front of the centenary issue of the People’s Revolutionary Voice. We also learned about the Language of Flowers. […]

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