The snapdragon flower – named after its dragon-like appearance, with “jaws” that can easily be snapped open and closed – is of the genus antirrhinum which is native to regions of the Mediterranean. These flowers, which form in whorls atop a thin stalk, can be seen in beautiful hues of burgundy, pink and red, as well as orange, white, yellow and a unique shade of bronze. Snapdragons are often classified according to height and flower form. For height, there are three types – dwarf, medium and tall. As for form, they may be seen in either their familiar ‘snappable’ shape, or as open-faced blossoms. These flowers are considered relatively easy to grow in gardens. They take a mere eight days to germinate in warm weather, require rich, well drained soil, and only a minimal amount of coaxing to encourage flower branching.
Although the snapdragon flower is well loved for its more interactive nature, these flowers have a long history that goes beyond being a simple floral plaything. As its otherworldly appearance may suggest, the snapdragon has long been associated with magical thinking. In Germany, if a snapdragon was hung over a baby’s bed, the child would be safe from evil spirits. They have also been thought to drive away witches, restore youthfulness and beauty to women, as well as bring back vigor and energy in everyone. The snapdragon flower is also considered to have a variety of uses. During the Middle Ages, these flowers were often weaved into the hair of maidens so as to make them both gracious and intriguing, and to ward off any unwanted advances. They have also been used to create cooking oils – that of which is said to be nearly comparable to olive oil – as well as dyes, perfumes and medicine. These bitter tasting flowers have sometimes been used as stimulants, and turned into poultices to help heal tumors and ulcers.
The snapdragon flower has something of a dual nature when it comes to symbolism. Because of their history of cloaking women from undesirable affections, they are often thought to mean deception and denial. On the other hand, snapdragons are thought to be representative of a whimsical, gracious nature. They are also occasionally associated with strength, dignity and unique beauty. When given as a gift, these flowers may encompass either meaning, or perhaps even both – telling the recipient that you find them to be enchanting, but dangerous.