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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Heraldic Primer Part 5

In this fifth part of my series on heraldry and today I wanted to talk about various types of flora you could come across in heraldry.  Please be aware this is by no means a complete list, however, I have included famous flowers as well as how you name different styles.  We are almost done with the parts and soon I can tell you about putting it all together!


There are many forms of flowers that you can find in heraldry.  If you can see it in nature, you can probably find it.  Thistles are used in numerous Scottish arms since it is the heraldic emblem of Scotland as are the trillium for Canada and the clover for Ireland.  There are stylized lotus flowers, lavender sprigs, tulip bulbs, fruit tree blossoms, and many more.  Listed below are the most found flowers that you will see.

The fleur-de-lis (or fleur-de-lys) is the most common charge in heraldic flowers, and the heraldic cadency mark for the sixth son.  The plural, fleurs-de-lis, is seen as the background on the arms for the Kings of France.  This charge is a stylized lily, some think the Iris but more often than not it is associated with other forms of native lilies like the calla lily or lilies of the valley.  It can be styled many different ways, but it is always made up of four parts: a center petal, two side petals bending away from the center, and a band holding the three together.


One of the most beautiful flower charges you will see in heraldry is the rose.  It is also the heraldic cadency mark for the seventh son of a house.  Shown as a flower with 5 petals, the rose is drawn like you would see a hedge rose of the dogrose or sweet briar variety.  Unless otherwise stated in the blazon all roses will be stylized like this.  Sometimes you will see another garden variety named, but it is not as common. 

There are a number of ways the rose can be drawn, as shown below.

Finally, the last grouping of common flower charges is what I like to call the “foils.”  They are flower like charges that have 3-7 petals.  Foils can be slipped (have a stylized stem) or can be pierced (a hole through the center).  The first part of each name is the Italian root for the number: tre, quarte, cinque, sex, and sept.  One oddity is eight, or the double quatrefoil, which is also the cadency marker for the 8th son.

Below are examples of the other types of foils most commonly seen.  They may be drawn as simple circles or with more pronounced lobes. 


Crops and Symbols of Harvest

Fruits, nuts, vegetables, and grains are also found in heraldry.  Most notably, for those from the UK, is the leek for Wales.  For the more unusual, and rare, you can find celery, carrots, and cucumbers.  All charges in this category are shown in the natural, or proper, state.  Few even have specific names for their charge.  Below is a listing of the most common charges found in this category as well as ones with specific names.

All forms of trees are present in heraldry.  Most common is the oak but you will see all types of pine, palm, laurel, lemon, palmetto, and willow to name a few.  There are several different ways they can be drawn, however, besides in their natural state.  Many of the heraldic trees are shown stylized with overly large fruit and leaves; however that is not as common in more recent practices.  Below are the ways a heraldic tree may be seen.

If you are interested in where I found these images please message me.  I tried a new way of inserting images this time and I was not able to link each image with its source.  Still learning all the ins and outs on making this type of post work.  Most of the images are from the  Heraldic Clipart Collection.

Next time we will look at inanimate objects!

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