Magnolia Flower Meaning and Symbolism

Last Updated on August 25, 2020 by Kimberly Crawford

Magnolia flowers are very beautiful reminders of childhood because they are mostly seen in parks and summer homes in the bayou.

It is unnerving but is very delicate to look at. But other than just a beautiful flower that commands attention, there is more meaning to the magnolia flower than how you might know it and at the end of this article, we guarantee that you will begin to love it more.

For starters, did you know that this flower has been existing for 20 million years now? How is that interesting? Now, read on. 

Magnolia flower fun facts

Magnolia flower fun facts

Speaking of a lot of things that we might not know about the magnolia flower, here are some fun facts about the flower. It would be nice to start off with some fun details before we flesh out the profound ones and here they are. 

  • There are at least 210 varieties of the magnolia flower that come in different colors, sizes, shapes, flowers even habitat. 
  • It could live for more than 100 years and it is considered to have been here ever since the world began. 
  • It is said to have originated in two geographic centers at the same time: Asia and the Americas. 
  • It is one of the few flower species that is naturalized in all the continents of the world because of its sturdiness, longevity and beauty. 
  • Magnolia is the state flower of two American states: Louisiana and Mississippi. The Siebold magnolia on the other hand is the national flower North Korea. 
  • It is only pollinated by beetles. 

What does the name Magnolia mean?

As a name, the most obvious meaning is that it was named after the person who discovered it named Pierre Magnol.

As such, when loosely translated, the name magnolia would mean the son of magnol. But since it could also be etymologically linked to the Latin word magna which means great, the name magnolia has evolved into the meaning of great beauty and great everything.

This is the reason why Magnolia is consistently on the top 25 names given to girls along with other flowers such as Lily, Marigold, Daisy and Dahlia

Magnolia flower meaning

Magnolia flower meaning

There is a reason why magnolias are one of the most favorite corsage flowers and why the cliché “you are worthy of a beautiful magnolia” is such a meaningful compliment to give to a woman.

Well, the magnolia flower symbolizes many things like purity and dignity. It also stands for perseverance and enduring strength since it could live for a hundred years. Also, it is considered as the symbol of the yin in the yin and yang balance and it stands for femininity.

Other meanings of the magnolia flower shall also be highlighted in the next sections. 

Etymological meaning of Magnolia

As have been mentioned in one section here, the magnolia’s name is a tribute to the French botanist who discovered the magnolia tree in the late 1600s whose name was Pierre Magnol.

Through the years, as the flower proved to be not only beautiful, resilient, sturdy and blooms fleetingly but in a whole year, botanists came to associate it with the Latin word magna/magnus which means great. When it was officially taxonomized in the late 1800s, it was named Magnolia officialis.  

Magnolia meaning in different cultures and religions

Since it is believed to have existed for millions of years, it is no wonder why the magnolia has a lot of archival presence across different cultures and religions.

In the Victorian era, sending magnolias secretly to each other was a sign of undying love and perseverance to fight for a love that is not that socially acceptable (specifically between aristocrats and commoners).

In ancient China, being given a magnolia is the purest compliment a woman can have because for the Chinese, it is a symbol of nobility, purity and an epitome of delicate femininity.

In South America, magnolias are staple in bridal bouquets as they are symbols of feminine nobility and also purity

In many Asian countries like Vietnam and predominantly in Chinese feng shui, it is believed that putting a magnolia flower in the porch or growing one in the outdoors attracts tranquility in the home.

In Japan, it is a famous ornamental plant which means connection to the cosmos and love for life

Magnolia tattoo meaning

Magnolia tattoo meaning

Aside from the general meaning ascribed to the magnolia flower, there are other meanings embedded in it when used as a tattoo design. 

Tattooing a white magnolia flower means innocence, faith and deep connection with the universe or simply spirituality.

Yellow magnolia tattoo symbolizes peace, friendship and self-love. Pink magnolia means cherishing a loved one (for departed loved ones) while red magnolia is for love and passion. Lastly, purple magnolia tattoo means a desire to connect with oneself. 

Magnolia color meanings

We might only know the magnolia as white in color but it does come in other colors. And before we go to what the colors mean, did you know that specific colors of magnolias serve as key ingredients to serve specific healing purposes in the Wicca and modern pagan belief systems? Cool stuff. 

White Magnolia flower meaning

White Magnolia flower meaning

In occult studies, white magnolias stand for the power of the moon and are offered for lunar goddesses. It also means innocence and of course purity

Pink Magnolia flower meaning

Pink Magnolia flower meaning

Often associated with the goddess Aphrodite or Venus, pink magnolias signify love, femininity and friendship

Red Magnolia flower meaning

This color represents passion and love and red magnolias symbolizes that one is loved, capable of love or deserves to be loved. 

Purple Magnolia flower

It is associated with royalty, nobility and power that is why it was used as a common nobility symbol in the Roman empire. It also stands for deep regard for one’s dignity and that of others. 

Yellow Magnolia flower

Yellow Magnolia flower meaning

In contrast to white magnolias, yellow stands for the power of the sun. And since it is associated with blooming and brightness, yellow magnolias stand for self-love and sharing joy and happiness to oneself and others. 

Symbolism of the Magnolia flower

As have been mentioned, the greatest symbolisms of the magnolia flower is that it is tied with femininity, perseverance and longevity.

This is perhaps why it is a symbolic gift to be given to women, loved ones, friends and a staple in cultures to stand for purity, nobility, being delicate, gentleness and innocence too. 

In the Americas, the blooming magnolia is the symbol of the arrival of spring and the symbol of balance in occult and history studies. In esoteric eras like the Victorian and era of empires, it means poise, pride and dignity. 

The truth is, the symbolism of the magnolia flower cuts across time and space. But at the end of the day, we attach meanings to it when we give it personally to significant others or receive it from them.

Thus, it is up to us to deduce what it means when the time comes knowing that there is a pool of symbolisms where you could start thinking what it personally means. 

Message of the Magnolia flower

The message of the magnolia flower rests on its ability to not lose is grace and stability in the years that pass.

Having survived for millions of years, it is indeed a sign of sturdiness and longevity. And the way it blooms year-round, regardless of geography and weather conditions is enough manifestation that indeed, its message is one of perseverance and not giving up no matter what circumstances we are given. 

On the other end, it is also a sign of delicate femininity. So perhaps, the message of the magnolia flower is also that of empowerment. I mean, just look at the movies Iron Magnolias and Sweet Magnolias and you will get the point.

Lastly, even if it is not direct, being the symbol of the yin in the proverbial yin and yang represents that balance is also a significant message of the magnolia flower. 

Uses of Magnolia flower

In Chinese traditional medicine, the buds of the magnolia are dried and made as tea because they have demonstrated anti-anxiety properties. When extracted, its main compound called Magnolol is known as a potent substance in reducing allergies and asthma attacks.

In dentistry, it is found out that the same compound is an active ingredient in inhibiting plaques. 

It is also striking to note that the magnolia flower is also a popular ingredient in the cosmetics and hygiene industry. For one, it is used in shampoos, lotions, body wash and fragrances because of its organic, fragrant smell. 


Meaning and symbolism of Magnolia flower

In conclusion, to say that the magnolia flower is interesting and symbolic are understatements.

Having been existing for 20 million years, which is more or less than 10 million years before early human ancestors even walked the earth, is enough narrative to understand how enduring this flower is and a rightful symbolism for grace, longevity and stability.

There is nothing that one would not love about this flower and as soon as you know all of these, then you will crave to have one.