Aztec Flower: Meaning, Symbolism, and Colors

The Aztecs were known to be quite passionate about curating their flower gardens. Their innovations in horticulture led to modifications of different types of flowers. One such flower that holds significance in Mexico is the Aztec Flower. This flower is grown in several parts of the world and is known by different names.

The Aztec marigold is scientifically known as Tagetes erecta. Also called Mexican marigold or big marigold, this flower is native to America; yet, it’s also referred to as African marigold. This flowering plant belongs to the Asteraceae family, the same as the dahlia and the sunflower family.

These erect annual herbs bloom abundantly from late spring to early fall time. The flowers thrive in hot and dry areas and need good sun exposure. They’re highly tolerant of drought conditions. The Aztec flowers have an almost spicy or musky scent. The leaves as well as the flowers bear a scent. Since they’re open right when the Sun comes out, they’re also called ‘herbs of the Sun.’

Typically, these flowering plants grow 30-110 cm long, with hollow stems that bend or break easily. The leaves of the plant are finely cut and resemble ferns on branched stems. They are simple and are lobed or unlobed, but aren’t separated into leaflets.

The flowers bloom at the end of the plant’s stems and range in colors of yellow, orange, and orange-red shades. They group in small heads or solitary terminal head inflorescence. The center of the flower head has tubular disk flowers and peripheral ray flowers that are strap-shaped. The size of the flowers ranges from that of a golf ball to that of a tennis ball, with the ruffled petals being packed tightly similar to carnations. The flowering period extends well throughout the summer, and into the fall. There are also double flowering marigolds.

The Aztec flower, despite being native to Mexico, is also found in Central America and the Caribbean. The natural habitat is the pine-oak Mexican forests with a climate that’s warm and lower in humidity.

What Do Aztec Flowers Symbolize?

The Aztec flower is widely used on the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead (Dia de Muertos). It is a majorly iconic symbol of this annual holiday meant to celebrate and honor the departed ones. Owing to this, the Aztec flower meaning is honoring the dead. In Mexico, the flower is sometimes called Flor de Muerto (Flower of the Dead).

The fragrant essential oil of this flower infused in water was used in Honduras to wash corpses and is still commonly found planted in cemeteries. This gave the Aztec flower meaning of purification.

This is also one of the purest offerings to Mexican deities implying the Aztec flower meaning of worship.

Apart from being used on occasions of grief and religious ceremonies, these flowers are also used for summer birthdays and weddings (in India). Because of this, the Aztec flower meaning is also of celebration.

For the people of Wales, the Aztec flower meaning is symbolic of cheerful communication. Suppose a couple is struggling to communicate, they’re advised to keep a pot of these marigolds at home to maintain peace.

The Aztec flower meaning of healing came about with its wide use in medicinal purposes. The flowers being edible were used by the Aztecs to cure a lot of health issues.

What Do the Various Colors of the Aztec Flower Mean?

The Aztec flower comes in a few different shades. Some of its common colors are:


The orange Aztec flower meaning is positive energy and strong emotions. It conveys passion and deep feelings.


The marigold flower is often associated with the Sun, to represent the power, strength, and light inside a person. Due to this, the yellow color of this flower represents positive feelings, happiness, and joy. Most marigolds bloom in this sunny color and symbolize optimism, good luck, and positive thoughts.


The orange-red hue of the Aztec flower means love, passion, and romance. These are red marigolds with orange-tipped petals.

Interesting Facts and Characteristics of the Aztec Flower

Here are some facts about the Aztec flower that are fascinating:

· The Aztecs in Mexico used this flower for spiritual and medicinal purposes, including the cure of hiccups.

· African marigolds naturalized in Africa following the water journey from Mexico, into Spain, moving into France, and reaching Africa.

· The Aztec marigolds are referred to as the smaller cousins of the French marigolds (Tagetes patula).

· These flowers are rich in carotenoids and are utilized for making food pigments. Marigold meal and extracts are utilized in poultry feeds to color the skin, fat, and egg yolks; rarely in fish and crustacean feeds.

· The flowers in their fresh, as well as dry forms are used for dyeing wool, silk, and cellulose fibres.

· These flowers are sometimes planted as an insect repellent in crops owing to their sharp, peculiar smell. This could also be the reason for their use in funerals, with their powerful insect-repelling oils.

· The Aztecs made use of the naturally-occurring oil of this flower for medicinal purposes. It was recommended for almost everything including treating people who were struck by lightning to those with uncontrollable hiccups.

· The dried flowers are used for making the Georgian khmeli-suneli spice. There are several recipes for cakes and salads that use this. Apart from this, a lovely golden-colored tea is made from dried petals. This must be consumed in moderation, just like any herbal tea.

· It’s believed the Day of the dead festival stems from another Aztec festival dedicated to goddess Mictecacihuatl. She’s believed to be the guardian of the bones of the dead.

· The flower’s essential oil contains antioxidants and is added to perfumes for infusing an apple scent to them.

Best Time to Gift Someone Aztec Flowers

There’s a special flower for each month of the year. October is the month of the Marigold. This charming and vibrant flower can be gifted to those born in October, during their birthday.

The Aztec flowers also symbolize the spreading of cheer and joy. This makes these flowers an excellent wedding gift idea. When combined with a lovely pair of Champagne glasses, it makes a nice gift for a newly married couple.

However, since this flower is associated with death in Mexico, it wouldn’t be a good idea to gift this to anyone there. It is symbolic of sorrow and a feeling of unrest there.