Green Thumbs and Mary

I know there are those of us who love to garden, me, I have a black thumb. I found this list on the site Fish Eaters, there is a great deal more on how to plant flowers so they will bloom according the liturgical calendar…very cool. The month associated with those flowers deemed as “birth flowers” have the birth months rendered in (italicized parentheses):

Common Name Scientific Name Medieval Name and/or Religious Meaning
Amaryllis Amaryllis belladonna Beautiful Lady
Amaryllis Hippeastrum hybr. St. Joseph’s Lily
Anemone, double-flowered Anemone coronaria St. Brigid
Aster Aster nova-belgii Michaelmas Daisy (September)
Baby’s Breath Gypsophila panicul. Lady’s Veil
Bachelor’s Buttons Centauria cyannis Mary’s Crown
Bean caper plant Zygophyllum dumosum ? Found on Shroud of Turin. 
Begonia Begonia fuchsioides Heart of Jesus
Begonia Begonia fuch. rosea Heart of Mary
Bellflower Adenophera Lady Bell
Bird of Paradise Streliztia reginae Bird of Paradise
Black-Eyed Susan Rudbeckia hirta Golden Jerusalem
Bleeding Heart Dicentra spectabilis Mary’s Heart
Blue Phlox Phlox divaricata Lady’s Wedding
Bluets Houstonia caerul. Madonna’s Eyes
Bougainvillea Bougainvillea gen. Trinitaria
Buttercup Ranunculus acris Lady’s Locks
Buttercup Ranunculus sp. Our Lady’s Bowl
Camelia Camellia (japonica) (Purity)
Calla Lily Zantedeshia aethiop. St. Joseph’s Staff
Canna Canna generalis Rosary Beads
Canterbury Bells Campanula medium Our Lady’s Nightcap, Mary Bells, Our Lady’s Smock
Caper, Caper bushes Capparis spinosa (var. aegyptia) ? Found on Shroud of Turin.
Carnation Dianthus caryophyllus Mary’s Love of God. These flowers are said to have bloomed at Christ’s Nativity, according to a German legend. (January)
Castilian roses (Damascus Roses or Damask Rose) Rosa damascena I am not sure of the medieval name for these native-to-Spain flowers, but these are the variety that St. Juan Diego found after the vision of Our Lady at Guadalupe.
Chrysanthemum (mum) Chrysanthemum All Saints’ Flower. Chrysanthemums in general are associated with death and are used and funerals and to adorn graves (Chrysanthemum coronarium is believed by scientists to have been present when Christ was laid in the tomb.). (November)
Clematis Clematis virginiana Virgin’s Bower
Clematis Clematis (flammula) Cross
Columbine Aquilegua vulgaris Our Lady’s Shoes, Lady’s Slipper. Said to have sprung up under Our Lady’s feet as she went to visit Elizabeth. The dove-shaped petals of this flower invited — and invites — its use for decoration on the Feast of the Pentecost.
Corn Marigold Chrysanthemum segetum Mary’s Gold (November)
Cosmos Cosmos sp. St. Michael’s Flower (September)
Costmary Chrysanthemum bals. Mary’s Leaf
Cowslip Primula veris Lady’s Keys
Crocus Crocus vernus Penitent’s Rose
Cross Vine Bignonia capreolata Cross Vine
Crown Daisy Chrysanthemum coronarium ? I don’t know the medieval name for this flower, but “Crown Daisy” is appropriate: this flower shows up on the Shroud of Turin. 
Daffodil Narcissus pseudo-narc. Mary’s Star
Dahlia Dahlia (hybrids) Churchyard Flower
Day Lily Hemerocallis flava St. Joseph’s Lily
Dieffenbachia Dieffenbachia sao ant. St. Anthony Dieffenbachia
Dog Rose Rosa canina Mary’s Thorn
Dutchman’s Breeches Dicentra cucullaria I don’t know the medieval name for this interesting flower, but it has sentimental interest for me so I would love to discover it if anyone happens to know and cares to write.
Edelweiss Leontopodium alp. Purity
Easter Lily Lilium longiflorum Easter Lily
English Daisy Bellis perennis Mary-Love
English Holly Ilex aquifolium Burning Bush
Evening Primose Oenothera biennia Easter Candle
Fern Asplenium ruta-mur. Lady’s Hair
Field Bindweed Convolvulus arvensis This lovely flowering plant — closely related to, resembling, and sometimes called the same name as the Morning Glory — is pervasive once planted and, so, is generally considered a weed. Its old common name according to the Grimm’s short tale of the same name is “Our Lady’s Little Glass.” The story in its entirety: “Once upon a time a waggoner’s cart which was heavily laden with wine had stuck so fast that in spite of all that he could do, he could not get it to move again. Then it chanced that Our Lady just happened to come by that way, and when she perceived the poor man’s distress, she said to him, ‘I am tired and thirsty, give me a glass of wine, and I will set thy cart free for thee.’ ‘Willingly,’ answered the waggoner, ‘but I have no glass in which I can give thee the wine.’ Then Our Lady plucked a little white flower with red stripes, called field bindweed, which looks very like a glass, and gave it to the waggoner. He filled it with wine, and then Our Lady drank it, and in the self-same instant the cart was set free, and the waggoner could drive onwards. The little flower is still always called Our Lady’s Little Glass.”
Forget-me-not Myostis scorpoides, Myostis sylvatica Eyes of Mary
Forsythia Forsythia suspensa Easter Bush
Foxglove Digitalis purpurea Our Lady’s Gloves
Fuchsia Fuchsia speciosa Christ’s Blood Drops or Our Lady’s Eardrops
Geranium Pelargonium (dom) Lady Beautiful
Geranium Pelargonium sp. Heart of Jesus, Gentle Virgin
German Iris lris germanica Mary’s Sword of Sorrow
Gladiolus Gladiolus sp. Twelve Apostles, Ladder to Heaven
Golden Rod Solidago canad. Lady’s Plant
Grape Hyacinth Muscari (gen) St. Joseph’s Bells
Grape Hyacinth Muscari botryoides Church Steeples
Ground Ivy Nepeta hederacea Madonna’s Herb
Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna Mary’s Mayflower(May)
Hawthorn Crataegus oxyacana Mary’s Berry (May). The Crataegus Oxyacantha praecox variety is the plant of England’s “Glastonbury Thorn” — a plant of Mediterranean origin but which, in Somerset, blooms twice: at Easter and at Christmas. It, therefore, has become a symbol of Christmas. The Glastonbury Thorn is said to have arisen when St. Joseph of Arimathea thrust his hawthorn staff into the ground in Somersetshire. The original plant was destroyed by Puritans (the soldier who did the chopping is said to have been struck in the eye by a large splinter from the tree), but shoots from it were taken, and England’s Glastonbury Thorn lives. Since 1929, blossoms from the Glastonbury Thorn are sent to England’s Monarchs for their table on Christmas Day.
Heather Calluna vulgaris Lady’s Adversary
Holly (Christmas Holly) Ilex opaca. var. Christmas Holly (December)
Holly (English Holly) Ilex aquifolium Burning Bush
Hollyhock Althea rosea St. Joseph’s Staff
Honeysuckle Lonicera caprifol., Lonicera (japonica) Lady’s Fingers (June)
Honeysuckle Lonicera xylosteum Lady’s Stick (June)
Hosta (Plantain Lily) Hosta plantaginea Assumption Lily
Hyacinth Hyacinthus oriental. Lily-Among-Thorns, Lily-of-Valley
Hydranga var. Hydranga macro. mar. Ave Maria
Impatiens Impatiens Wallerana Our Lady’s Earrings, or Mother Love
Ivy Hedera helix Where God has Walked
Jasmine Jasminum officinale Mary
Job’s Tears Coix lachryma-jobi Job’s Tears (Job 16:20). The seeds of this plant are often used for Rosary beads.
Jonquil Narcissus jonquilla (December) St. Joseph’s Staff
Judas Tree Cercis siliquastrum Said to be the tree upon which Judas hanged himself after betraying Our Lord. It is a beautiful tree, with lovely pink flowers in the Spring.
Larkspur Delphinium ajacis, Delphinum (grandif.) Mary’s Tears (July)
Lavender Lavendula (offic.) Flight into Egypt
Lilac Syringa vulgaris Ascension Flower
Lily-of-the-Valley Convallaria majalis Our Lady’s Tears. These flowers are said to have blossomed from Mary’s tears for her Son as she stood at the foot of the Cross. (May)
Lungwort Pulmonaria officinalis Mary’s Milkdrops, Our Lady’s Milk Herb, The Virgin Mary’s Tears
Madonna Lily Lilium candidum Annunciation Lily, Virgin Lily or Mary’s Lily

Note: The Venerable Bede (A.D. 672-735) described the white petals as symbols of Mary’s body, and the golden anthers as symbols of the glory of her soul. Roses and lilies were said to have filled Mary’s empty tomb when it was opened by the Apostles. While lilies’ association with purity cause them to be depicted with many Saints, such as SS. Francis and Claire, they are most strongly associated with St. Joseph, whose rod is said, in the Gospel of the Nativity of Mary, to have blossomed to prove he was worthy to guard Mary and become her spouse; with St. Anthony of Padua, because lilies left in chuches on his Feast Day miraculously remained fresh during the French Revolution; and with the archangel Gabriel, who is depicted as presenting Mary with the lily at the Annunciation (hence the name “Annunciation Lily”). Lilies are also associated with Solomon’s Temple (III Kings 7:19-22), and their beauty is commented on by Christ Himself (Luke 12:27).

Maltese Cross Lychnis chalcedonica “Maltese Cross” (or “Jerusalem Cross”). The shape of these flowers’ petals strongly evokes the Maltese Cross, and they are said to have been introduced into Europe, from Russia and Siberia, by the crusading Knights of Malta.
Marigold Calendula officin. Mary’s Gold (October)
Meadowsweet Filipendula ulmar. Our Lady’s Belt
Millfoil Achillea millefolia Christ’s Back, Our Lord’s Back
Mistletoe Viscum album Cross
Moonflower Calonyction acul. Lady-of-Night
Morning Glory Ipomoea purpurea Our Lady’s Mantle (September)
Nasturtium Tropaeolum majus St. Joseph’s Flower
Orchid Orchis purpurea Lady Orchis
Orchid Brassavola nodosa Lady-of-Night
Orchid Orchis maculata Gethsemani
Oriental Poppy Papaver orientale Christ’s Blood, Crucifixion Blood-Drops (August)
Ox-Eye Daisy Chrysanthemum leucanthemum Mary’s Star. The legend told is that the Magi followed the star to Bethlehem but weren’t sure where to go once there. King Melchior then saw the ox-eye daisy growing, which looked very much like the star they’d followed. He picked it, and the door to the stable opened revealing the Holy Family.
Pansy Viola tricolor Trinity Flower, Our Lady’s Delight
Passion Flower Passiflora Passion Flower, whose 5 stamens symbolize the Five Wounds of Christ; the outer fringe, the crown of thorns; and stigmas, the nails. See more here.
Periwinkle Vinca rosea Virgin Flower
Petunia Petunia hybr. Lady’s Praise
Peony Paeonia officinalis Pentecost Rose (does anyone know of any name or meaning associated with Paeonia lactiflora?)
Pink Dianthus (gen) Mary’s Pink
Poet’s Narcissus Narcissus poeticus Lady’s Rose
Poinsettia Euphorbia pulcherima Nativity Flower, Christmas Star
Pot Marigold Calendula officinalis Mary’s Gold
Primrose Primula elatior Mary’s Candlestick (February)
Primrose Primula vulgaris Lady’s Frills (February)
Quaking Grass Briza Lady’s Tresses, Our Lady’s Braids
Ranunculus, double-flowered Ranunculus I don’t know the medieval name for this flower, but it’s a gorgeous blossom.
Rose Rosa White: Mary’s Purity
Red: Mary’s Sorrow and the Blood of Christ. Also martyrdom.
Gold: Mary’s Glory
Red and White: Visitation
Note: The Rose symbolizes Mary herself (she is known as “The Mystical Rose,” see Litany of Loreto) and is described in Dante’s Paradiso when the guide asks him to contemplate Mary, “Why are you so enamored of my face that you do not turn your gaze to the beautiful garden which blossoms under the radiance of Christ? There is the Rose in which the Divine word became flesh: here are the lilies whose perfume guides you in the right ways.”Roses and lilies were said to have filled Mary’s empty tomb when it was opened by the Apostles.

Roses are also associated with SS. Dorothy and Thérèse of Lisieux (who both send roses from Heaven), Elizabeth of Hungary, and Rose of Lima. St. Francis once threw himself on the thorns of a rosebush as penance. Since then, the rosebushes in that garden (near the cloister of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Assisi) have no thorns. See also the entry for Castilian Roses. (June)

Rock Rose Cistus (landanif.) Rose of Sharon
Rock Rose Cistus creticus ? Shows up on Shroud of Turin. See footnote for more information on the flowers of the Holy Shroud.
Rose of Jericho Selaginella lepidophylla


Anastatica hierochuntica

This desert plant survives in a curled up, dormant, brown, dessicated state for years, and then opens up and turns green with a bit of water. After returning to a lovely green, it goes dormant again when its water source is removed. Because of this fascinating property, it is often kept dormant in the home and brought out at Christmas time to blossom and then close in order to symbolize the opening and closing of Mary’s womb. The plant is also known as the Resurrection Plant, Siempre Viva (“Everlasting”), and Dinosaur Plant. Read more about this plant on the Rose of Jericho page off the Chrismastide Overview page.
Rose of Sharon Hibiscus syriacus Rose of Sharon
Scabiosa Scabiosa columbaria Mary’s Pincushion
Scotch Thistle Onopardon acanthium Judas’ Cloak
Sea Pink Armeria maritima Our Lady’s Cushion. These flowers are said to have made a place for Mary to sit during the Flight into Egypt.
Shamrock Trifolium dubium a symbol of St. Patrick and his evangelization of Ireland, and of Ireland itself — but St. Patrick used it as a symbol of the Trinity, with each leaf representing a Divine Person while the plant remains one plant.
Snapdragon Antirrhinum majus Infant Jesus’ Shoes
Snowdrop Galanthus nivalus “Candlemas Bells” or “Purification Flowers.” These flowers are said to have bloomed on Candlemas, when Mary took Jesus to the Temple for His “redemption.” (January)
Spanish Moss Mentha requienii Mother-of-Thousands
Spiderwort Tradescantia zebrina (Zebrina pendula) Wandering Jew. The name for this plant — often used as a houseplant — derives from an old legend about a Jew who mocked and hit Christ during His Passion and so was condemned by Him to wander the earth until the Last Judgment. Two other species of this plant are also known by this name: Tradescantia fluminensis and Tradescantia pallida (Setcreasea purpurea, Purple Heart).
Star-of-Bethlehem Ornithogalum umbellatum symbol of the star that led the Magi to Christ
Stock Mathiola incana Our Lady’s Violet
Strawberry Frageria vesca Fruitful Virgin
Summor Phlox Phlox paniculata Christ’s-Cross Flower
Sunflower Helianthus annus Mary’s Gold
Sweet Alyssum Lobularia maritima Blessed by Mary, Mary’s Little Cross
Sweet Pea Lathyrus odoratus Our Lady’s Flower (April)
Sweet Pea Lathyrus pratensis Mary’s Foot (April)
Sweet William Dianthus barbatus Lady Tuft
Tournefort’s gundelia Gundelia tournefortii ? Found on Shroud of Turin. See footnote for more information on the flowers of the Holy Shroud.
Tuberose Polianthes tuberosa St. Joseph’s Staff
Tulip Tulipa gesneriana Mary’s Prayer
Violet Viola odorata Our Lady’s Modesty (March)
Water Lily Nymphaea alba Lady-of-the-Lake (July)
Winter Rose (Snow Rose) Helleborus niger Christmas Rose, or Lent Rose. A German Christmas symbol.
Wisteria Wisteria frutescen Virgin’s Bower
Wood Anemone Anemone nemorosa Candlemas Caps, Lady’s Nightcap
Yellow Flag Iris Iris pseudocorus Fleur-de-lis of French royalty, Mary as Queen, the Immaculate Conception
Yucca Yucca treculeana St. John’s Palm
Zinnia Zinia elegans The Virgin, Church Flower
Zinnia Zinnia multiflora Little Mary, The Virgin


Parsley Petrosolenium crisp. Our Lady’s Little Vine
Sage Salvia officinalis Mary’s Shawl
Rosemary Rosmarinus officin. Mary’s Nosegay
Thyme Thymus vulgaris The Virgin’s Humility
Chives Allium schoenopras. Our Lady’s Garleek
tarragon Artemisia dracunculus its botanical name means “Little Dragon” and evokes St. Martha’s slaying of the dragon known as La Tarasque
Dill Anethium graveolens Devil-Away
Coriander Coriandrum sativum St. John’s Head
Sweet Bay Laurus nobilis St. Bridget’s Flower
Basil Ocimum basilicum Holy Communion Plant. Pots of basil are used to decorate homes and to give away as gifts on St. Anthony of Padua’s Day.
Marjoram Origanum vulgare Mary’s Bedstraw
Cumin Cummin cyanum Cross-Cummin
Fennel Foenlculum vulgare Our Lady’s Fennel
Anise Pimpinella anisum Our Lady’s Sprig, Lady’s Tobacco
Spearmint Mentha spicata Mary’s Mint
Chicory Cichorlum intybus Heavenly Way
Horehound Marrubium vulgare Mother-of-God’s Tea, Mary’s Nettle
Sassafras Sassafras (albidum) Virgin’s Tree
Hyssop (Syrian Oregano) Origanum syriacum I am unable to find a medieval name for this plant, but include it because of its importance in the Passover, Psalms and Passion. The variety of hyssop properly called Hyssopos officinal., and known as St. Joseph’s Plant in the Middle Ages, is not the variety spoken of in the Bible and at the Mass. The Biblical plant is Origanum maru.
Catnip Nepeta cataria Mary’s Nettle
Feverfew Chrysanthemum parth. Mary’s Flower
Feverfew Parthenium hystero. Santa Maria
Chamomile Anthemus cotula Maiden Weed
Chamomile Matricaria chamom. Lady’s Flower
St. John’s Wort Hypericum perforatm St. John’s Wort, Fuga Daemon (“Devil’s Flight”), John’s Blood, Jesus’ Blood Drops, Christ’s Sweat, Mary’s Glory
Spikenard (or “Nard”) Nardostachys grandiflora (or Nardostachys jatamansi) The portion of the plant just above the roots has a patchouli-like scent which was used by Mary Magdalen in the ointment she used to annoint Christ.
Dandelion Taraxicum officin Mary’s Bitter Sorrow
Valerian Valeriana officin. Lady’s Needlework
Pennyroyal Mentha pulegium Lady’s Flavoring

From Fish Eaters


Is a spiritual director working helping moms find God in the everyday. She has been a spiritual director since 1998: worked as a Director of Religious Education for Holy Cross Parish(2000-2005), was Director of Project Rachel, a healing ministry for Post Abortive women(1999-2000). Patty worked a social worker for Catholic Social Services (1988 - 1995) Then studied for spiritual direction at the Dominican Center of Religious Studies, DeWitt Michigan

She is married 20 years and has four children

She has a BS/BA in social work from Aquinas College, CSD Certified Spiritual Director

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