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Traditions and beliefs

Humans have built close relationships with plants in the environment surrounding them and strong traditions and beliefs regarding particular species have developed over time.

Festivals and celebrations

Plants are used in many festivals and celebrations, both religious and secular, around the world. Who can talk about holly (Ilex aquifolium), ivy (Hedera helix) and mistletoe (Viscum album) without their thoughts turning to Christmas, or picture a traditional Hindu wedding without henna (Lawsonia inermis) body decorations?


Photo of holly tree in the arboretum at Kew Gardens
Holly tree in the arboretum at Kew Gardens


Life events and love

Plants are closely interwoven with life events, such as birth, marriage and death in many societies. A wide range of plants are also associated with love, sexual appetite and fertility (for example roses, ginseng and avocado respectively) and many plants are also closely linked to superstitions (for example, the belief that it is bad luck to cut down a holly tree).

Religious beliefs

Some plants have an important place in religious beliefs, and so are planted or otherwise used around places of worship. The banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis), for example, is known in Hindu mythology as 'the wish-fulfilling tree' and is frequently planted around temples in India.