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Literary Characters Named After Flowers

January 5, 2018

While it may not always seem like it, a lot goes into naming a book character. It has to be memorable but not outlandish, beautiful but not vain, and fitting without being too obvious. So it makes sense that authors often name their characters after flowers and plants. After all, plants have been used for centuries to convey symbolism and, most importantly, emotion — and isn’t the very purpose of books to make us feel something? From young to old, charming to awkward, heroine to villain, below are a few of our favorite literary characters’ flower-inspired names.

Lily Owens

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Lily is no stranger to adversity. After losing her mother at a young age and suffering at the hand of her abusive father, she finds the strength to run away with her caregiver and start a new life. Despite what her name might suggest, she’s not nearly as delicate as readers first assume.

White lilies

Katniss Everdeen

The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins

Named after the katniss plant, which is commonly referred to as the “arrowhead plant,” perhaps no woman on this list is as appropriately named as Katniss Everdeen. While the plant most obviously relates to her amazing archery skills, it also symbolizes Katniss’ ability to protect and provide for her family, since the plant can also be eaten. Her name is also a nod to something Katniss’ father used to tell her when she was younger, that “…as long as you can find yourself, you’ll never starve.”

katniss plant

Fern Arable

Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

Charlotte’s Web is about a lot more than just a girl and her pig. In this traditional coming-of-age story, we watch as Fern grows from a spunky little girl to an awkward teenager. For decades, ferns played a major role in Native American medicine and have been used to treat everything from tuberculosis to snake bites. So it’s only fitting that Fern, who saves her beloved pig Wilbur, is named after a plant that has likely saved the lives of thousands.

Fern plant

Daisy Buchanan

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Unlike the many other ladies on this list, who embody their floral name in mind, body, and spirit, Daisy is one of the least connected to her name. Though she’s beautiful and alluring, like a daisy, the similarities end there, as she’s also cold, vindictive, and headstrong.

Daisy

Primrose Everdeen

The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins

Suzanne Collins certainly enjoyed a good floral-inspired name. During the Victorian Era, giving someone a primrose flower meant, “I can’t live without you.” When Katniss hears her sister’s name called for the Hunger Games, this is certainly the thought going through her mind before she utters the now famous phrase, “I volunteer as tribute.”

Primrose flower

Narcissa Malfoy

The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter fans have long debated whether or not Narcissa’s name is fitting for her. While yes, she’s a Death Eater and servant to Voldemort (sorry, He Who Shall Not Be Named), she’s not as narcissistic as her name implies. Upon learning that Voldemort intends to kill her son, Draco, she breaks her allegiance to him and ultimately protects her family from being slaughtered. Perhaps that’s the real meaning behind her plant-inspired name, narcissus, which symbolizes a brighter future ahead.

Narcissus flower

Susie Salmon

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Having trouble finding the floral inspiration in her name? Don’t feel too bad — it’s not nearly as obvious as the others. But Susie actually means lily or lotus. It was the Greeks who popularized the belief that lilies symbolize purity, chastity, and virtue — words often used to describe children. At just fourteen years old, Susie is assaulted and murdered by her neighbor, and the book follows her recounting the events from the afterlife. Despite the horrors she endured on Earth, Susie still maintains the qualities of a lily for eternity.

White and pink lily