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The Meaning of The Wisteria Flower

Updated July 19, 2017

Wisteria grows most commonly in vine form, producing lovely, fragrant flowers ranging in all shades of blue, lavender and red-violet. The flower holds prevalence in Japanese tradition and has multiple symbolic meanings.

Origin

Bred in China and Japan for more than 2000 years, wisteria arrived in the United States in the 1830s as an ornamental vine. This hardy plant can thrive as far north as New England.

Buddhism

Wisteria is a symbol of humility and reflection in Shin Buddhism. The Jodo Shinshu sect uses two intertwined, upside-down wisteria flowers as its crest.

Japanese Interpretation

In the 1820s, kabuki drama Fuji Musume, "The Wisteria Maiden," a young woman waits under a wisteria vine for her lover. In this context, the durable, long-living wisteria vine lends a meaning of endurance in the face of heartache.

Victorian Interpretation

According to the Victorian language of flowers, wisteria represents a warning against over-passionate love or obsession, a reference to the choking nature of the vine.

Further Interpretations

The wisteria vine grows voraciously and can become invasive, even destructive. The flower can symbolise creative expansion and spontaneity, though it also reminds us of what happens when we leave those qualities unchecked.

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About the Author

Jen Julian has been writing feature articles since 2008 and has been published in storySouth, East Carolina University's Pulse Magazine, and Press 53's 2010 Open Awards Anthology. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English from the College of Charleston in South Carolina and her Master of Arts in fiction writing from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.