Azalea: The Flower as Old as Time

5 min read

The azalea flower has gained significance in multiple cultures, dating back to 70 million years ago. To give you a better mental picture, the azalea is a flowering shrub that begins blooming between May and June into quaint, charming, and soft flowers. Not only is this flower beautiful on the outside but it has many inside traits that make this flower an essential symbol throughout its existence. From Asia to England, and even the States, it continues to make quite an impression on rapidly changing cultures.

The saying goes, “never judge a book by its cover,” and that is true to say about this fantastic plant. Let’s take a stroll around the world to discover just what this flower may mean to your history.

  • Origins
  • Asia
  • England
  • North America
  • Callaway Gardens
  • Legend of the Azalea

Not only is this going be an adventure, but an eye-opening experience to bask in the presence of the long journey of the azalea flower.

Origins

First, we need to discuss where this flower made its appearance in the world. This flowering shrub was discovered in the eastern part of Asia by a Chinese king. After some research, they were found to be descended from other Asian shrubs. The monks of the Buddhist monasteries cultivated these beautiful flowers to worship them under the kings. Azaleas were then becoming a symbol of royals representing their passion and desire for the people and the land.

The name Azalea comes from the Greek origin meaning “dry.” Many people over the years have named their children after the flower, in hopes they possess great beauty and temperance. The Greeks typically use this name for animals, hoping it is helping to protect their soil and livestock.

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Asia 

Even though these flowers were found in Asia, they still hold major significance today. Azalea flowers were made the national flower of Nepal and are an essential decoration in every establishment along eastern Asia. They are also mentioned in Chinese medical texts from their discovery up till today. The Chinese enjoy the flower in their tea to seek high calming emotions at any time of the day.

Worshipping in something you believe should never be ashaming. Trusting in the meaning of the flower can help build confidence throughout children and adults. Temperance is a trait we rarely see in this world, so items such as flowers can help us remember the softness we once saw among people.

England

The azalea was then sent to England from the shores of the Black Sea. The Chinese made a curtesy to give other countries the opportunity to appreciate the beauty this flower brings to the table. The British gardeners began to use this plant as part of floriography in the Victorian Era. The meaning of the azalea continued to symbolize temperance, continuing to give people hope of the trait carrying on through time. This flower was often sent as a gift to give others to reconsider a show of public affection.

Not only was the flower used in floriography, but it was also a symbol of the alcohol prohibition in the Victorian Age. The ban of alcohol put multiple people out of jobs and was a loss for companies. Victorians who still had faith in the prohibition period began to plant azaleas outside of their homes to show hope in the passing of this matter.

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North America

The English travelers then brought the flower over to North America on their destined journey to the New World. After some time, the wives of traveling soldiers began to plant yellow azaleas to show the love they possessed for their family. Placing the azalea flower outside was a coping tactic for many families dealing with the heartache of war.

Callaway Gardens 

If this flower has caught your interest, there is a special place to appreciate this stunning flower. Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, GA, is the site of the most extensive azalea garden. The founders choose to create this garden to preserve and protect the azalea. Their gratitude began while picnicking one day near their home in early June of 1930. The amazement they had of this vibrant orange-red flower gave them the idea to create such a place. They wanted to create the opportunity for others to come and worship the beauty and softness of the azalea.

Legend of the Azalea

According to the Chinese folktale, a king long ago was a selfish man who was a terrible ruler. The king made the people angry; however, one warrior came to assassinate the evil king. As the man did succeed in his journey to end the king, the king began to cry out. His body slowly twisted, and he became a cuckoo. They say due to his violent death, each time the cuckoo sang, an azalea appeared. The cuckoo sang bitterly, so bitter that blood emerged from his bill. The blood gave the azaleas more power to bloom more vibrant. The legend says the flowers were once white, but the king’s blood made them evolve from white to pink, and then into this blood red.

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The month of April is the time the cuckoo sings their songs, and that is why people believe the blooming season for azaleas starts so early.

Summary

Traveling the journey of the azalea flower has been an experience for us all. Learning the ways of the flower and the impact it has on many different cultures is truly amazing. Asia has always cherished this flower, enough to make it the national flower of Nepal. The Chinese were then kind enough to share the flower with other countries. This came to be an essential aspect of the flower’s history. Floriography was a widely spread language throughout the Victorian Era; likewise, the azalea flower was welcomed quickly into a significant role of this language. The English had so much love for the flower they brought it over to the New World to give them hope of good luck.

The real darkness of the azalea’s past comes with the Chinese legend. A selfish king’s head was a trophy for one man full of hatred. As the king was crying his last words, his body began to change into a cuckoo. The cuckoo was an instrument in the making of the azalea flower.

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