Remembrance Flowers

The Poppy

The red poppy was adopted in 1920 as the emblem of Remembrance Day but it this flower is not exclusive to that event. In fact, it is appropriate to wear this emblem of sacrifice on a number of occasions.

The poppy grows naturally in conditions of disturbed earth and it was the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th Century that originally elevated the poppy to a symbol of sacrifice. It was those epic battles that transformed bare land into fields of blood red poppies, growing around the bodies of the fallen soldiers. Some scholars even trace the symbolism back to the 12th and 13th Century when Genghis Khan would leave battlefields drenched with blood after which poppies would grow in vast profusion. Of course, we are all familiar with the poem by John McCrea depicting the poppies of Flanders fields that describes the once again ripped open fields of World War One where the poppy was one of a few plants to grow on the otherwise barren battlefields.

The poppy flower has a long association with remembering the fallen and the sacrifice they gave. It is appropriate to be worn at any time of the year by a person wishing to symbolise the memory of the sacred dead and to keep alive the memories of the fallen.

So the next time you see someone wearing a poppy remember the symbolism and appreciate that they are signifying their appreciation to those that have gone before us and made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of our freedom.


Rosemary is an aromatic herb and the rich oil and perfume derived from the plant have been used for centuries. The ancients believed it strengthened the memory, and on this account,  it became an emblem of fidelity and a symbol of remembrance. It can thus be associated with the ANZAC tradition of being loyal to one’s mates and active in honouring the memory of fallen and departed comrades.

The origin of wearing Rosemary on ANZAC day may have started in 1915 when a wounded digger from Adelaide was repatriated to the Army Hospital at Keswick. He brought back with him a small rosemary bush dug up from the slopes and ravines of ANZAC Cove and it was planted in the hospital grounds. For decades’ small sprigs of the digger’s rosemary were worn to honour the fallen on ANZAC and Armistice days. Although the story is accurate, as to whether this is the origin of wearing Rosemary on ANZAC Day is unverified.

When the Repatriation Hospital was established during WW2 at Daw Park SA, cuttings were taken and it was grown into a hedge on the hospital grounds.