15 Plants in Chinese – Your Go To Guide

Discover How To Say 15 Plants in Chinese

Do you know the names of some plants in Chinese?

Perhaps you want to add some greenery to your Chinese apartment or buy a loved one some flowers for one of China’s many Valentine’s days

Plants are an important part of China’s literary culture, and have featured in poems and paintings throughout China’s history.

Many plants or flowers native to China have a particular cultural significance and symbolic meaning.

So it’s a good idea to know what each plant means before you give it to someone as a gift.

  • Learn plant names in Chinese: Lavender
  • Chinese resources: rose
  • Chinese plant: Bamboo

We’ve put together this quick guide to teach you the Chinese names for Chinese plants, what they symbolise and any particular cultural connotations they have.

Before we start though, we should teach you the word for plant in Chinese really!

PLANT IN CHINESE is 植物 zhí wù

Bamboo in Chinese
Lily in Chinese
Chrysanthemum in Chinese
Magnolia in Chinese
Orchid in Chinese
Iris in Chinese 
Lotus in Chinese 
Hibiscus in Chinese
Peony in Chinese 
More Plant Names in Chinese

If you are in Shanghai, check out Guyi Garden and see which of these plants you can tick off!

Plants in Chinese: Bamboo

Chinese plant: Bamboo 竹子
Chinese plant: Bamboo 竹子

Name in Chinese: 竹子 (zhúzi)

Bamboo is not only the favoured food of China’s national animal the panda (lit. bear cat).

Due to its versatility and strength bamboo is used to make pretty much everything in China.

Chopsticks, firecrackers, scaffolding, paper, you name it, it’s even used in Chinese cuisine.

Bamboo is a very common feature in traditional Chinese paintings, and in art it has come to symbolise longevity.

It’s also one of the four suits in the Chinese tile game Mahjong, if gambling or gaming is your jam.

Learn how to play Mahjong with students Tobias and Mikkel

Chinese Flowers: Lily

Chinese flowers: Lily 百合
Chinese flowers: Lily 百合

Name in Chinese: 百合 (bǎihé) 

In contrast to the West where lilies are most commonly used in funerals, they are considered a flower for all occasions in China.

Lilies are said to help people forget their troubles, due to their transitory nature.

They flower, die, then re-flower in fast succession.

They are a common gift for newlyweds as they are also a symbol for childbearing.

The grace and beautiful nature of lily flowers led to their association with the practise of foot binding in China.

Chinese Flowers: Chrysanthemum

Chinese flower: Chrysanthemum 菊花
Chinese flower: Chrysanthemum 菊花

Name in Chinese: 菊花 júhuā

Chrysanthemums are a very common flower in Chinese paintings.

The ninth month of the Chinese lunar calendar is named ‘Chrysanthemum month’ and the flower also represents Autumn.

It symbolises long life, due to its similar pronunciation with the words ‘居’ and ‘久’ jiǔ meaning to ‘reside’ and ‘long time’ respectively.

The petals are often used to make tea in China (菊花茶 júhuā chá). 

Chrysanthemums are the flower given to the dead in China (as well as in other parts of the world too), so make sure you don’t get them for a friend’s birthday or they might get the wrong idea.

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Chinese Flowers: Magnolia

Chinese Flowers: Magnolia 木兰花
Chinese Flowers: Magnolia 木兰花

Name in Chinese:  木兰花 mùlán huā (wood orchid flower).

Some types of Magnolia are also referred to as 玉兰花 yùlán huā (jade orchid flower).

At one time, only the Chinese emperor was allowed to grow the plant, as it was considered so precious.

DID YOU KNOW – Today magnolias are symbols of beauty. They are a common ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine.

Mùlán is also the name of the legendary female warrior who disguised herself as a man to take her father’s place in the army.

In the most popular versions of the story her surname is 花 huā (flower).

Chinese Flowers: Orchid

Flowers in Chinese: Orchid 兰花
Flowers in Chinese: Orchid 兰花

Name in Chinese: 兰花 lánhuā

In China, the Orchid is powerful symbol for many different things.

Most often it represents female beauty and refinement. Why?

Because Lán is a very common female name in China.

Sometimes it is also the symbol of a married couple and unity.

In Chinese literature orchids’ fragrance has also been likened to the career of a scholar.

Chinese Flowers: Iris

Flower in Chinese: Iris 鸢尾花
Flower in Chinese: Iris 鸢尾花

Name in Chinese: 鸢尾花 yuānwěi huā

Irises supposedly prolong life when eaten and represent Spring in China.

They are said to repel evil spirits and so are used to decorate doorways during the Dragon Boat Festival (5th May in the Chinese Lunar Calendar).

You can find out more about the Dragon Boat Festival and other Chinese holidays through the year via our other blog posts we we cover all the key public holidays in China.

There are probably more holidays in China than you might think!

Chinese Flowers: Lotus

Flower in Chinese: Lotus 莲花
Flower in Chinese: Lotus 莲花

Name in Chinese: 莲花 liánhuā

Lotuses are particularly significant symbols within Buddhism.

As they grow out of the mud, lotuses often represent the overcoming of troubles and a transformation from evil to good.

They are a symbol of purity, as they produce white flowers untainted by the mud.

Like the lily, lotus flowers also have an association with the practise of foot binding in China.

Bound feet were also sometimes called ‘lotus feet’.

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Chinese Flowers: Hibiscus

Plants in Chinese: Hibiscus 芙蓉花
Plants in Chinese: Hibiscus 芙蓉花

Name in Chinese: 芙蓉花 fúróng huā

The Hibiscus flower is native to East Asia, and it is the Malaysian national flower.

In China it is popular gift for both men and women in China.

They are most commonly used for decorative purposes due to their beauty and colourful look.

It symbolises glory, fame and riches, though it is often associated with the fleeting nature of these things.

Chinese Flowers: Peony

Flowers in Chinese: Peony 牡丹花
Flowers in Chinese: Peony 牡丹花

Name in Chinese: 牡丹花 mǔdān huā

A beloved flower in China, Peonies are known as the flower of Spring.

Red peonies are associated with fame, wealth and value, whereas the white flowers represent young, beautiful girls.

A healthy garden peony was thought to be auspicious symbol, whereas a sick peony was a bad omen for the family.

The famous Chinese opera ‘Peony Pavilion’ ( 牡丹亭 mǔdan tíng) tells a story of young love.

Other Plants in Chinese:

We have only just scraped the surface of a vast encyclopedia of plants in China.

Just incase you’re doing some plant shopping, we’ve also put together some more flora vocabulary below:

Like what you see?

Fancy getting to see gorgeous flowers in China? Then check out our blog on where to catch the best cherry blossoms in Beijing?!

Plants in Chinese – FAQ’s

How do you say Plant in Chinese?

Plant in Chinese is 植物 zhí wù.

How do you say Lily in Chinese?

Lily in Chinese is 百合 bǎihé.

How do you say Bamboo in Chinese?

Bamboo in Chinese is 竹子 zhúzi.

How do you say Magnolia in Chinese?

木兰花 mùlán huā, literally wood orchid flower.

How do you say Hibiscus in Chinese?

芙蓉花 fúróng huā.

How do you say Peony in Chinese?

牡丹花 mǔdān huā.

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    Johan Brandal, Student Advisor

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