Amaryllis Flower Meaning and Symbolism

Last Updated on July 11, 2020 by Kimberly Crawford

The amaryllis is a very interesting flower. For one, it is immortalized in many poems from the Victorian era by the likes of Tennyson.

It also has an interesting origin story from Greek mythology as a bittersweet unrequited love.

It is also very remarkable in the field of medicine specifically being the symbol used by the world for Huntington’s disease. But universally, it is this star-shaped red, holiday-vibe flower that is not just stall but also sturdy.

It is one of the best shade-loving indoor plants and today you will learn the amaryllis meaning and why it is all the more interesting. 

meaning of amaryllis flower 1

Amaryllis fun facts

Amaryllis fun facts

Before we go to the serious part, it would be nice to get acquainted with some fun facts about this bleeding red flower. Here are some amaryllis fun facts that you should not miss knowing: 

  • It belongs to the genus Hippeastrum, a Greek word derived from two words, horse and star. 
  • In Greek mythology, the amaryllis flower is said to be the heart of the lovestruck maiden Amaryllis who struck arrows in her own heart just to win Alteo’s love, hence, the crimson red color of the flower. 
  • There are 600 named varieties of the Amaryllis including the famous naked lady and belladonna lilies. 
  • The US is the number one importer of amaryllis. Annually, the US imports 10 million amaryllis specifically to South Africa and Holland. 
  • The amaryllis are forcedly bloomed during the holidays because of its long stems and crimson red flowers. 
  • When cared for properly, the flower could last for 75 to 100 years. 

Amaryllis flower meaning

Amaryllis flower meaning and symbolism

The amaryllis like all other significant flowers like the rose, lotus and a lot more, is associated with many profound meanings. Since we already mentioned the Greek story of amaryllis, it is important that we give the details because it really is where most of the associated meanings come from. 

So there’s a shy nymph whose name is Amaryllis and she fell in love with a shepherd that was as strong as Hercules and as handsome as the god Apollo.

She had to live with this unrequited love until she planned out a total win over the boy by giving him the most beautiful flower that has never existed before. She went to the Oracle of Delphi for instructions. 

She would appear in front of Alteo’s doorstep for thirty straight days. While there, she would pierce her heart with golden arrows. Droplets of her blood would drip in the pathway.

After the 30th day, Alteo found beautiful large, trumpet-shaped, bright red flowers in his pathway made borne out of Amaryllis’ blood and unrequited love. Since then, the flower has been deeply associated with determination, courage, will, sturdiness or resilience and pride

Etymological meaning of Amaryllis

Even the etymology of the flower amaryllis has more than one explanation.

The first explanation is that it came from the Greek playwright Virgil’s Eclogues where he mentions the Greek word amarysso which means to sparkle (which is associated with the flower’s star-shaped petals).

The second explanation is that it comes from the word Amarella which means bitter bulb. 

You must also know that the name amaryllis is differently used even now. For example, amaryllis bulbs that are forced to bloom during the holidays are said to belong under the genus Hippeastrum.

The naked lady on the other hand is used for amaryllis bulbs with similar flowering and growth patterns as the bulbs. In some regions, the amaryllis is also called belladonna lily and resurrection lily. 

Amaryllis meaning in different cultures and countries

Amaryllis meaning in different cultures and countries

Culturally speaking, the amaryllis does not have that much variation when it comes to meaning as they all draw from its color symbolisms.

For example, in Holland, most of Europe and the United States, the amaryllis is considered as a Christmas flower, next to poinsettia. It means a festive mood and gathering with loved ones.

In China, the amaryllis is given as a gift to friends, family and significant others because the Chinese believes that the amaryllis is also a conductor of luck, good health and fortune. 

Japan, alongside China and the Himalayan countries of Nepal and Tibet, the amaryllis is a symbol of peace, love and beauty.

Of course, for the Greek, the amaryllis is a cultural symbol with its famed Amaryllis-Alteo story found in their mythology. 

Amaryllis tattoo meaning

Amaryllis tattoo meaning

When inked, the amaryllis usually revolves around the meanings of self-confidence, self-love, resilience, compassion, courageous and victorious; themes that are very profound nowadays because of mental health and of course, various life struggles that we want to give meaning to because they made us better people. 

Strikingly, in the tattoo world, blank ink and multi-colored flower inks, in themselves are also meaningful.

For example, in one Reddit thread about flower tattoo designs, one commenter, a New York tattoo artist, shared that colored amaryllis tattoos emerging from the center with other colors outwards mean pride and a sense of achievement while one-color amaryllis (except black) mean self-love, endurance and innate strength to move forward.

Black ink amaryllis tattoos, according to him, means sturdiness and wisdom.   

Amaryllis flower colors meaning

Amaryllis flower color meanings

The colors of flowers are often laden with meaning. Meanings vary depending on the colors and the amaryllis is one with multilayered meanings too. You will need this color scheme when you give it as a gift so pay attention to what they might mean. 

  • Red: Drawing from the Amaryllis story that we mentioned here, red amaryllis means attraction, love and passion.
  • Purple: It stands for the usual purple meaning association of loyalty, nobility and royalty but also of great wisdom. 
  • Pink: This one stands for friendship. 
  • Yellow: This color for the amaryllis stands for joy and happiness. 
  • White: This color of amaryllis chastity, purity but also of empathy and femininity. 
  • Orange: As a happy color, this means optimism, positive energy, and good health.

Symbolism of the Amaryllis flower

Aside from being the symbol of love, achievement, courage and other positive adjectives, the amaryllis also extends its symbolism to the medical field.

Specifically, it is used as the symbol to represent Huntington’s disease with the top petals representing the head and the lower petals the torso area.

The head and the torso area represent the effect that the disease has on the physical and mental functions of those who have the disease.

With these symmetries, it is also used as the symbol of the Huntington disease international organizations and local associations to mark their achievements and medical breakthroughs in the fight against the disease. 

But beyond this, we love the amaryllis in weddings, flower arrangements and as indoor plants because it means love and passion and cultivates feelings of peace, beauty, resilience, and victory. It also relishes a sense of joy, happiness and thriving. 

Message of the Amaryllis flower

Giving the amaryllis flower to people comes with a load of meanings. And if you are going to do this one of these days, you have to choose the right color to give because they have significant messages.

For example, when you give it a gift during the holidays, give the red one because not only will it mean love, it also means considering one as family.

For new neighbors or friends who are planning to start a new life in a new town, a pink amaryllis is a good hit.

A yellow or orange amaryllis would be best as indoor plants for people who are recently having a hard time. It is also given for people who have had significant achievements as it also stands for victory, courage and pride. 

Uses of amaryllis flower

The amaryllis is not just a bright indoor plant because believe it or not, the amaryllis flower has significant medical uses.

For one, in the early medical traditions of Europe, Africa and even Asia, young amaryllis bulbs are used to treat cancer-like diseases, urinary tract infections and for blood cleansing.

Recent medical researches found out that this flower has high components of lycorenine and alkaloids which inhibit the growth of tumoral cell lines (which kind of provides basis to the prior sentence connecting the amaryllis to traditional medicine). 

In non-medical fields, the amaryllis is a staple flower for arrangements year-round and has become a trend in wedding bouquet arrangements. It is also a beautiful indoor plant that is easy to grow and propagate. As a matter of fact, with proper maintenance, the mother plant could survive for a hundred years. 


In conclusion, there is so much more about the amaryllis than just being known as a holiday flower being imported and exported annually by the millions because of its beautiful forced blooms.

While this facet is something that is already a manifestation of how beautiful it is, it is also an expression that people hold dear the meanings that come with it.

And its Greek origin story will not make it very meaningful and it being used as a symbol in the medical field would not suffice to it being one of a kind, then we don’t know what will.