Heather Flowers Meaning & Symbolism

Sublimely fragrant heather flowers have adorned rugged landscapes since the dawn of time. Steeped in folklore, they have been assigned various meanings and are bound to ancient symbols that express the entire gamut of our human emotions.

The heather flower’s meaning and the symbolism traditionally pertain to good fortune, protection, or admiration for a loved one. White heathers denote innocence, happiness, purity, and perfection; purple signifies beauty and devotion, while pink refers to love and femininity.

While everyone might not be familiar with the lost language of flowers, there’s a good chance that your loved one might know a thing or two about the unspoken message you would like to convey. So, tread with caution and read on!

Heather’s Rich Celtic History

These fragrant wildflowers that provide an abundance of dainty purple, white, or pink vistas in rocky mountainous terrains are native to Europe, including South Asia.

Heathers are called “the queen of winter” as they start blooming in the cold winter months and well into spring.

They were named after “hather,” an English word that denotes beautiful wildflowers that predominantly grow in hilly fields and is considered a robust plant as it flourishes in hilly terrains.

Heather flowers are part of the “Calluna” plant species, which refers to the Greek word for “kalluno,” which signifies cleansing and adornment. It’s an apt descriptive name as heather flowers were traditionally harvested to create rustic brooms.

Apart from western and northern Europe, they also grow in Morocco or Turkey and have flourished in certain North American regions.

Heather flowers are deeply entrenched in Scotland’s folklore. Some believe that heather’s name was derived from the Scottish word “haeddre,” which was traditionally used to denote wild landscapes dotted with shrubs or heaths.

This is born out of a Scottish tale concerning Malvina, the daughter of a Celtic poet who was engaged to a soldier called Oscar.

When Oscar died on the battlefield, she was informed by a messenger of his demise and given heather flowers to symbolize Oscar’s love for Malvina.

While her tears cascaded on the heather flowers, they changed to white; she wished that they would symbolize good luck and happiness to anyone who encountered them with a heavy heart.

Heather Flowers: Mysterious Meanings

While heather flowers can denote various meanings, they are generally gifted as good luck charms for protection or to demonstrate admiration for the recipient.

Victorians predominantly believed that heather was a symbol of good fortune for two reasons.

Firstly, it was incredibly scarce during that period, equating it to finding a four-leaf clover. Secondly, Queen Victoria promoted the idea that heather was a good luck token as she was enamored with Scottish traditions and folklore.

Moreover, the 16th century Scottish Clan Ranald ardently believed their victory was tied to their white heather bonnet adornments.

Scottish brides include white heather flowers in their bridal bouquets as they also signify innocence, protection, happiness, purity, and perfection.

As they grow in treacherous terrains, Heather flowers also signify confidence and independence, so they’re a great gift for a loved one experiencing a significant challenge or hardship.

Bouquets that consist of multi-colored heather flowers also signify the personification of true beauty. Therefore, they are a perfect choice to remind a lady that she is incredibly beautiful.

The Meaning Of A Heather Flower Tattoos

Heather flowers tattoos are great if the flower evokes positive sentiments or if it is perceived as a link to your Celtic ancestry.

Unlike tattooing your ex’s name, and regretting it, heather flowers tattoos are delicate and beautiful, so you would probably not be tempted to remove them in the fullness of time.

However, it would be wise to select a heather flower color with positive connotations.

While ancient Celts believed that white heather blooms symbolized good fortune and would protect their warriors in battle, they refused to display red heather flowers in their homes as it symbolized misadventures and bad fortune.

The Symbolic Color Code Of Heather Flowers

Anyone familiar with the ancient language of flowers will know that a bloom’s color denotes a coded, symbolic message.

Heather flowers predominantly feature shaded variations of either purple, pink, or white blooms tied to their symbols.

  • Purple heathers symbolize beauty and devotion; therefore, they are a great choice to let the recipient know that they are truly special.
  • Pink heathers signify love and passion, referring to the beauty of femininity. It’s a perfect bloom for those who want to express their love and longing to spend time with a partner.
  • White heather blooms are a great choice if you want to attract positive energy and good fortune to your home. They are also tied to folklore as it is known that should you encounter blossoming white heather, it is a sign that fairies are in the vicinity.

Funnily enough, people have always been known to carry sprigs of heather to increase their good fortune.

Although white was historically tied to positive change, pink and red heather flowers were avoided as they were resembled blood and were linked to disasters of all kinds.

The Cultural Importance Of Heather Flowers

A notable Scottish poet and writer named Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a charming poem entitled “Heather Ale” concerning a battle between the invading Vikings and the Pict clan’s king.

The Pict army was defeated by the Vikings, who subsequently chased their king and his son towards a cliff to extort his infamous Heather Ale recipe.

But the king refused to relinquish the ales’ recipe, even if it meant that he would be thrown to his death. While the heroic king lost the battle, he retained his famous recipe.


Heather flowers are deeply entrenched in the history of humankind, and the unspoken meanings and rich symbolism denote our hope for a prosperous future. But most of all, they remind us that it is possible to blossom in the face of adversity.

It would be prudent to select the color of your heather flower bouquets with care if you want to convey a heartfelt message to a loved one.