5 Fascinating Greek Myths about the Origin of Plants and Flowers

An important and substantial section in Greek mythology concerns the birth of flowers and plants. The ancient Greeks loved to attribute many natural phenomena to a divine origin, which has created a dense network of myths that intersect incessantly with each other.

Let’s have a look.


Clyte was a young water-nymph madly in love with Apollo, the God of the Sun, who seduced her for a short time but then refused to love her. But Clyte did not give up. She sat day and night in a field watching her beloved who crossed the sky from dawn to dusk and with her head always up followed his path without ever looking away. Slowly her body, wasted by hunger and thirst, began to change shape turning into the flower of the sunflower. Even after the metamorphosis Clyte never stopped looking at the sun in the sky.

For this reason, the sunflower follows the sun at any time of the day.

sunflower under blue sky
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Daphne was a nymph daughter of Ladon and Gaea (the earth) of which Apollo fell deeply in love without being reciprocated. Daphne flew away through the woods running relentlessly chased by Apollo but, exhausted by fatigue and almost reached by God, she begged her mother Gaea to transform her in order to escape him. Mother Earth transformed her into the laurel plant and Apollo, who was still in love with her, took the laurel branches and never abandoned them. For this reason in classical iconography, Apollo is always depicted crowned with laurel branches.


Myrrh was the daughter of Cynira, king of Cyprus, who made Aphrodite jealous of her beauty. The goddess takes revenge causing the young woman to fall in love with her father Cynira. Unable to hold back her love, she sought a stratagem to hide her identity and lie to her father by deceiving him for nine consecutive nights. When Cynira discovered the truth of the incestuous relationship, he pursued Myrrh to kill her. She fled to Arabia but when her father was about to take her, Aphrodite, pitiful, turned her into a myrrh tree. After nine months Myrrh began to have labor pains and from a crack in the trunk of the plant was born the beautiful Adonis.


Adonis, born from the incestuous union of Myrrh with his father Cynira, was sincerely loved by Aphrodite. Ares, the god of war, jealous of the love that the goddess had for the young man, had him killed by a wild boar during a hunt. From the blood of Adonis, it seems that anemones were born, and from the blood of Aphrodite, running among the brambles to help the beloved, red roses were born. In reality, white roses already existed and were a flower sacred to Aphrodite but from that moment, due to the blood of Sorrowful Aphrodite, they turned red.

fill the frame photography of red roses
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In this ancient tale, Zeus, having fathered Heracles with the mortal Alcmena, sought to grant the child immortality by a unique means. His plan was to connect Heracles to his divine wife Hera’s breast while she slept, as it was believed that only those who were nourished with celestial milk from a union between a God and a mortal could attain eternal life.

However, as Hera stirred from her slumber, she discovered Zeus’ scheme and protested vehemently. In her sudden awakening, Hera’s movements caused a few drops of divine milk to cascade into the heavens, giving birth to the celestial wonder we now know as the Milky Way.

These radiant stars would forever serve as a reminder of the divine union and the grand aspirations of Heracles’ immortality. As for the drops that found their way to the earth, they graced the ground with delicate and pure white flowers known as lilies.

close up of white lily
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Now, when you decide to plant any of those flowers in your garden, you will also know the myth behind it.

Are you fond of flowers? Which are your favorites?

16 thoughts on “5 Fascinating Greek Myths about the Origin of Plants and Flowers

    1. Thank you for reading. I agree that the story of sunflowers is tragic, but the Ancient Greek made tragedy their way of interpreting life. At least this is what it seems to me. Happy that you found my post interesting!

  1. I love these, Cristiana! So interesting and what incredible stories. I loved Greek mythology growing up but I don’t think I’ve ever read any of these so thank you for sharing them. Great post!

  2. Just found this post and loved reading it. I know a lot of Greek mythology and have always had a fondness for it (I’m half Greek)
    Didn’t know some of these tho, thank you for sharing!!

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