The Snapdragon – a captivating stem that’s heavily associated with magical properties and renowned for its dragon-like “mouth” that opens when laterally squeezed.
With April being the month us English folk celebrate St George’s Day – or the Feast of Saint George – we felt it apt to feature the Snapdragon as our flower of the month (not that they need to be tamed).
If you’re the type to impress people with your intelligence – or simply your ability to memorise long words – refer to it as the Antirrhinum, a hardy perennial as rich in character and symbolism as its memorable name deserves.
Even when presented with the most elaborate of bouquets, we tend to interact with them passively - gazing from a distance for fear of disturbing their arranged perfection. But what is it that makes the Snapdragon so eye-catching? Both its vast array of vibrant colour iterations – with certain varieties growing in a bi-colour palette – and its unique petaled papilla.
And it’s name? The result of seriously up close and personal contact. If you gently squeeze the head of its flowers (or its cheeks) – as some presumably entertainment-starved people once realised – then the resulting formation of petals resembles the face of a dragon… Okay, not everyone is convinced (other nicknames for the Antirrhinum include Lion’s Mouth, Calf’s Snout and Toad’s Mouth), but there’s no denying the sense of strength that these striking blooms bring to a bouquet.
As well as being heavily associated with magical properties (particularly the white and purple variations) mainly for their medicinal properties and the occasional association with witchcraft, the Snapdragon played an altogether more complex symbolic role during the Victorian era. Associated with both deception and graciousness, lovers who wanted to apologise for making a mistake would send a bouquet of snapdragons twinned with a stem renowned for its truth-telling properties, for example, the hyacinth. Something to consider next time you’re in need of a gift that says, “sorry – I blew it!”.