Why Do Flowers Make Us Swoon?

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woman smell rose
Science, history and personality explain why receiving a bouquet of flowers can make our day.

What is it exactly about receiving a bouquet of flowers that's so heartwarming? For practical purposes, the already decaying plants will wither into an eyesore within a week of reception. Yet, research shows gifting flowers—moreso than things like candles or fruit baskets—to be a surefire way to improve someone's mood.

So, which came first: the flowers or the mood-altering trance they hold on us?

Flowers have held meaning throughout history—when verbal professions of love were forbidden or socially inappropriate, the gift of a rose could speak volumes. As Flowershopnetwork.com puts it, "Flowers, after all, are the sexual reproductive organs of plants, and as such they are emblematic of all sorts of intimate proceedings."

On Ava Living, an interior design community website, a divorced New York City mother and artist describes her love affair with flora, which has outlasted even her human loves:

As a woman of a certain age, I find myself single and dating once again. Times have changed. I have changed. Have dating rituals?

I remember my very first love would leave a single red rose each day in my dormitory mailbox at college—no note, just a rose. Then one day he brought me two dozen African Daisies. I had never seen them before and was totally intrigued—this man had taste and flair and I fell in love. I was eighteen and we married the following year. Alas, flowers alone could not sustain the marriage, although they always seemed to help.

There were many flowers in the following years from various suitors. I came to know my flowers. I planted flowers in my garden and read about flowers in the many mail order catalogues. I still adore it when a man sends me flowers. I am impressed when he does it with feeling and taste. The thought is really the most important thing... yet that taste and flair thing still gets me.

Gary Chapman, PhD, tells us that humans communicate through five different "love languages": words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. While a "gifts" communicator might feel the love via flowers the most, chances are many of us (the allergy-ridden aside) feel brighter in their presence, whether its their smell, color or symbolism that gets us.

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