“Blossom by blossom the spring begins.” Algernon Charles Swinburne
Branches and blossoms of trees differ from the Language of Flowers, though some varieties may appear in it. Trees have their own language, blossoms are a great way to start that journey. Often before flowers bloom, branches start the show and can be brought inside for the grand finale. It’s a nice way to say hi to your tree or your neighbor’s tree. Pick branches as they are just displaying their blooms. Always include unopened buds among the blooming ones, as they represent life’s continuous journey. Check for critters before bringing into your home.
Almonds, (Prunus dulcis) when they are just flowering offer hope, giddiness, heedlessness. As the blossoms extend, they promise thoughtfulness, and a lover’s charm. They are a tree of divination, wisdom, abiding love and friendship.
Apple (Malus pumila) blossoms, the second popular of spring bloomers display brilliant shades of white to pink. The blossoms symbolize beauty, love, healing, and immortality. Pink blossoms accentuate all of those emotions. White is a symbol of fertility. Celtic bedchambers were decorated with blossoms for fertility and as a tribute to beauty.
Blossoms produced a constant fragrant adding oxygen to the ozone and attracting pollinators. Use them as incense, perfume, or herb-candles for hand-fasting. Their slight and intense scent is uplifting and a true sign of spring.
Sir James Frazer reports on a folktale where in April a figure of a straw-man is placed in the oldest apple tree. When it finished blooming, he was cast into the water and floated away to honor the natural cycle.
Blossoms and branches are a symbol of May Day baskets or bouquets celebrating spring. In Celtic practices branches were carried by shamans and poets as symbols of their office known as Craobh Ciuil, meaning Branch of Reason. In the English language, the Silver Bough allowed visitations to other realms. Its bare blossoms and fruit were in the shape of bells and made music when shaken. The music lured humans into an enchanted sleep or offered safe passage to the Otherworld before the appointed hour of death. These same boughs opened the doorways into the Fey’s land offering shelter while traveling. The trees themselves represent peace-loving.
Cherries (Prunus avium) are one of the most famous of spring bloomers. Cherry blossoms have a unique cleft at the tip of their petals. Their long stems attach to the branch from a single bud. The blossoms mean power, feminine and spiritual beauty and sexuality. From Japan they mean the transience of life and China feminine beauty. A single blossom is education, endurance, and the celebration of new beginnings. Their short bloom time is a reminder of the fleeting beauty of youth. White can mean deception.
Hawthorn branches of the English Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata) bloom with white flowers. All parts were used in witchcraft and meant caution or hostility. As a tree there are many meanings; hope, love and marriage, protection and overcome harshness. Woven branches made wreaths and flowers for baskets on May Day.
Magnolia (Genus Magnolia) trees are spectacular and remarkable. A planetary tree for its age and ability to adapt through the earth’s climate and geological changes. This tree dates back to 20 million years. It uniquely adapted its flower from pollination by beetles to present day bees. This behavior has led to one of its meanings of endurance, eternity, and long life. Its long relationship with the earth has contributed to many meanings by multiple cultures in Asia and the Americans. The meaning beautiful woman may have originated from the southern states. The Chinese have cultivated the magnolia known as the Jade Orchid, Magnolia denudata, for thousands of years. Meaning certainly when used in the beginning of a sentiment. The flowers are symbols of purity and nobility. Called Hanakotoba in the Japanese system of messaging magnolia flowers represent the sublime, natural, and love for nature.
Fragrant blooms in many colors are describe as follows; white for purity and perfection; pink for youth, innocence, and joy; green or yellow for joy, health, luck, & good fortune and purple that sends out vibrations for achieving wishes of luck and health.
In America, the flower is the messenger of spring’s arrival. Victorians used the flowers to symbolized dignity, nobility, poise, and pride. The strength of its bloom indicates self-respect and self-esteem. Their durability, strength of character, and bearing, make them a desired flower for wedding bouquets. Their long life gave them yet another association of working with the life force and were sent in bouquets to celebrate births.
Quince (Chaenomeles) shrubs are found in Asia and the Americans. Branches means rebirth. Quince blossoms come in wonderful colors of peach to orange or hot pink. he blooms mean temptation, represents a choice or abundance a symbol of love or sincerity.
Peach (Prunus persica) trees represents longevity and are a sacred tree of immortality. In Taoist mythology the sacred peach tree grew in the garden of Hsi wang mu. Peach blossom petals are in shades of pale pink with a deep magenta center. They have short stems with two flowers sprouting from the same branch. The petals are an indication of intense love. The blossoms bring luck, or I am yours or you hold me captive.
Plum (Prunus domestica) trees indicate genius and keeping your promise. The first blooms of snowy white signals the end of winter. Butterflies are associated with plums indicative of beauty and long-life. The blossoms grow out from the branch and is absent of stems. Blossoms mean strong personality and the individual is unafraid of difficulties. Each single blossom means I am yours; you hold me captive.
Say thanks to the tree and the elementals caring for the branches and blossoms you pick or buy.
“Trees with Heart Speak Hopefully, Quietly, and Strongly ” – D MacPherson
There is a group of trees with leaves that appear heart-shaped. They span many botanical families, are deciduous, and fill the air with their delectable scents. Many do well in the landscape. Classified as heart-shape, they help with new love, old love, and broken love. Their fruits or nuts are often paired with chocolate.
Bo Tree–Ficus Religosa
The fig leaves of the World Tree share its knowledge and grace with us. The leaves flutter under moonlight and light breezes. Elephants and silk worms enjoy munching on them. Figs are a symbol of fertility, propagation, vegetation, and immortality.
Its energy is very masculine. Under this fig Prince Siddhartha Gautama sat and became enlighten. He became Buddha and created the practice of Buddhism’s. The Greek God Dionysus in his role as a fertility god could be found near a fig tree. Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were nursed under a fig tree. The Hindu God Vishnu was born under Ficus indica and became part of the triad with Brahma and Shiva.
Figs are known by many names. Bodhi means historic events. Tree of Enlightenment or Awakened One. Tree of Knowledge. Tree of Buddha.
Ruled by the element earth and the sun. Both keep the fig grounded and looking to the sky for wisdom and inspiration.
A round and dense tree maturing to 100 feet that provides wonderful shade and beauty. Leaves start as a romantic pink then bloom out to green. Followed by yellow clusters of flowers and black berries. Native to the subtropics of Asia.
Valued in China where all parts are used in healing remedies. Individuals who hurt these trees were put to death. Camphor helps in heart problems, especially with break-ups. You will recognize this tree’s crushed leaves as the scent of moth-balls. A natural repellent for moths giving the tree one of its names – Moth Ball Tree.
Camphor is ruled by the feminine energy of the Moon and Moon Goddesses. Give her a gift on the new moon and ask her to help. A water element, camphor will feel your needs and help you work through them.
There are two types; Northern (Catalpha speciose) and Southern (Catalpha bignoniodes). Native to the Americans. They can reach a height of 40 to 60 feet with short trunks and rounded crowns. The trunks are gray and red, respectively. Fast growers and short-lived. It is an interesting tree in the landscape.
Flowers are white with a touch of rich gold. As the leaves open, they feel velvety and appear paper thin. The green and black caterpillar of the Catalpa Sphinx Moth loves the leaves. Wood is slightly aromatic. The seedpods are its most distinguishing features giving them the names of Indian-bean or Cigar Tree. Children used the seed pods in sword-fighting.
Catalpha is aligned with the realm of Spirit and will help to bring angels, fairies, deities, and ancestors to your sacred space. A tree of masculine energy it is ruled by Uranus.
Cherries – Prunus spp
Native Americans call cherries the Tree of the Heart. Medium growers and short-lived they are a landscape and food-source. Many of the edible cherries are from modern-day cultivars breed from Prunus avium and Prunus cerasu. Black cherries, Prunus serotina is a 60-foot tree with edible black fruit. The bark, leaves and seeds are toxic.
Cherries are celebrated for their spring blooms of white, red, or pink. Reflective of its ruling planet Venus and feminine energy the blossoms are part of the angelic realm of the cherubs. They are sacred to the Japanese emperor. Called sakura blossoms is the national flower of Japan. From Japanese folklore and now spread worldwide; blossoms are the symbol of love and joy. Their short bloom time reminds us that life is short. Do your best to live it well and to the fullest. Burning incense will attract or strengthen love.
The Japanese Goddess Konohanasakuya-hime is the blossom-princess and symbol of its delicate earthly life. She is part of wedding rituals. Every part of her presence with blossoms vibrates love. Cherry trees symbolize the shortness of life and how precious it is.
The Ho-ho bird is one of four types of firebirds in Asian mythology. Firebirds (phoenix) are reflective of the fire element. They are messengers of goodwill from the sun.
Dogwoods are many. Native Americans cherish dogwoods and their white blooms. Their appearance signals the arrival of spring and time to plant crops. The varieties are smaller and don’t match the height of the Pacific Dogwood (Cornus nuttalli)–a pure delight when you run across them in bloom. Their mass display of white is striking when tucked in with their conifer cousins.
The wonderful flowers called bracts delight many an observer. The true flowers are at the center of this configuration. Its fall foliage lights up the area wherever it stands with the fruit becoming scarlet.
The name dogwood is a discussion point. Cornus sanquinea, the English variety, was an ingredient in washes for dogs and some claim to befriend dogs. The name dagwood is short for daggerwood. Dogwood is hard, durable, and dense – used for weapons and skewers.
The planetary ruler Saturn rules structure and dogwoods. Plant dogwood as a boundary tree. In the language of trees, it means endurance. A tree that helps with broken or sad hearts. A Cherokee story tells of a princess killed because she refused the advances of a warrior. Wounded, she reached for a dogwood flower hoping to stop the bleeding. The pink tips in the flower show her bravery.
In another Cherokee tale, the element of spirit appears. The Dogwood People are elementals that help to teach harmony with the earth and protect the tribe. Dogwoods are masculine energy.
Empress Tree – Paulownia tomentosa
The Empress Tree is known by many names; foxglove tree, princess tree, and royal paulownia. A native to China and valued for its many uses; medicinal, ornamental, or timber. Reaching a height of 50 feet it provides shade to everything under its canopy. The leaves are large, showy, and velvety enticing its use as a worldwide ornamental. The tube-shaped flowers of white to purple spread their jasmine or vanilla-like fragrance.
This is the time that love is in the air perhaps the influence of its ruling planet Venus. Very much a tree of feminine energy. A fast grower that is planted when a girl is born. When she is ready to marry the tree is cut down, and the wood used to create her dowry chest.
The fruit is egg-shaped forming seed pods that turn brown in winter and stay until the following spring. The bark is rough and gray-brown interlaced with smooth and shiny areas. This tree self-sows and survives by fire, sending out new shoots in the spring. Like the phoenix rising from the flame both are symbolic of the element of fire.
Introduced to the United States by the Dutch East India Company in the 1830s it is invasive. Catalpa and Empress Trees have a similar look. Look to the flowers and seed pods for clear identification.
A small and mighty tree full of magical power. Short trees with leaves that alternate and are toothed. The Turkish filbert, Corylis coluna is the exception growing to heights of 80 feet.
Connected to the heart chakra it is well-suited to magic of wisdom, beauty, charm, love, stars, navigation, and creativity. The Tree of Wishes it will help with fertility, luck, and the power to grant the heart’s desire. Both feminine and masculine energies are present in Hazelwood. It is sacred to Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of Love and the Norse God Thor for immortality.
Hazelwood is sacred in many cultures; guarding sacred wells, aligning to gods, and providing treasured food. When you dream of hazelnuts, they are telling you of treasure coming your way. Cracking and then eating the nuts mean riches and content after toil.
Tied to the element of spirit and its planetary ruler Mercury the three components provide communication and messages from the other side to share with the mortal world. It is a tree known for knowledge. Knowledge is a way to communicate. In Irish myths, it was the salmon that shared its knowledge with the Celts after eating hazelnuts.
A showy tree described as divine beauty and elegance. A nice addition to a landscape. Leaves are purple in spring turning to green in summer and gold in the fall. It is in the fall that their fragrance of warm caramel or maple scones fills the air.
A good shade tree that likes moist and well-drained soils with full sun to part-shade. Katsura trees are fast growers. Another wonderful benefit of these trees is their lack of any serious pests or diseases. Prone to leaf scorch if planted in areas of drought and full sun.
The planetary bodies Venus (love) and the Moon (mystery) rule over Katsura. Japanese folklore tells us Katsura grew on the moon. Its energy is ethereal and otherworldly. Sit with it under moonlight with a moonstone crystal and think romantic thoughts.
Katsura is a fire element with masculine and feminine energies.
Linden – (Tilla spp.)
A fast-growing tree reaching 60 to 100 feet, forming wonderful crowns. Clusters of highly fragrant flowers appear in early June and the leaves turn yellow in fall. When young they have a smooth and light gray bark. As it matures, the bark becomes bumpy and closer to brown. Native to Europe and the United States.
A joyous tree for dancing around. The Tree of Love or Lovers. Scythia soothsayers twisted the leaves to tell of the prophecies that came from the trees. Lindens are a symbol of martial love and fidelity. Nowhere is this better displayed than in the Greek/Roman story of Baucis and Philemon. Jupiter(Zeus) and his messenger, Mercury(Hermes), were traveling in disguise and this elderly couple were the only ones to show them hospitality. As a turn of thankfulness, the gods turned Baucis into an oak and Philemon a linden tree when they died. The branches of the two trees intertwined and became inseparable.
French folklore repeats this theme and the linden’s property of masculine and feminine energy. If the groom passed under two linden trees that had their treetops woven together, the marriage never fell apart. Napoleon married his second wife Marie Louise under linden trees. He had them planted along the roads to the entrance of Logatec, Slovenia. Lindens are often used in street tree planting. Careful though when in bloom; aphids love this tree and create a honeydew sap that drips down on everything.
Lindens are a water element ruled by the planet Uranus. Together they capture the emotions and high functionality (law, justices, administration) of societies. Lindens were often used as community decision trees.
Aspens are short-lived as individuals but as a community tree can live for millennial. They can grow to a height of 50 feet. Young bark is narrow, straight, and white. Maturing bark turns black near the bottom of the trunk. Leaves turn shades of gold in the fall. A community tree as they grow in groves and can replace itself within 50 years. A tree that at one time grew everywhere in North America. An important tree in forest succession, they are the first to appear after a fire or a deforested area. They provide the much-needed shade for the next group of trees in succession, the sub-alpine firs.
Its moving leaves are considered magical. Mercury and Jupiter share co-rulership of quaking aspens. A fitting symbol with its leaves in constant motion and its large and expansive nature. Pando is the largest Quaking Aspen community. Meaning Trembling Giant or in Latin, I spread out. Several centuries old, the community is dying.
A tree of masculine energy, called the Tree of Heroes or the Shield Tree. Its leaves give heroes or shamans power to transport back and forth between this world and others. The lightweight wood is pliable for shields that gave magical properties protecting buried treasures. Wreaths made of gold shaped aspen leaves were found in several graves in Mesopotamia. Aspen’s physical strength protected warriors from harm and helped individuals work through physical and spiritual fears.
Redbuds are native to eastern and central North America. The Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) or the Western Redbud (Cercidiphyllum japonicum).
This trees truly have a four-season interest. Flowers liken to the shape of hummingbirds that burst out in intense red color fading to a warm pink. The blossoms adore branches that attract pollinators. Green leaves turn yellow, gold, or red in the fall. The leaves emit a sugar-cookie scent attesting to its name the Caramel Tree. Winter brings symmetrical branching with scaly and shaggy bark.
Redbuds are aligned to the Divine-Feminine. Pallas is the ruling Goddess of Redbuds and the Goddess of Marriage. Plant redbuds to support long-term partnership or enduring romantic relationships. The element of fire rules over redbuds.
Please Plant Responsibly.
Leaves – In Myth, Magic & Medicine. Alice Thomas Vitale, Sweet, Tabori & Chang, NY, 1997
Japanese Mythology & Folklore, Lars Krutak, 2019
Magical Herbalism, Scott Cunningham, Llewellyn Publications, St Paul, MN, 1988
The Folklore of Trees & Shrubs, Laura C Martin, The Globe Pequot Press, Old Saybrook, Connecticut, 1992
The Mystery and Magic of Trees and Flowers, Lesley Gordon, Webb & Bower, Exeter, England, 1985
Quaking Aspens – P.McMillen