The extreme, often irrational fear of flowers is called Anthophobia. The word Anthophobia is a combination of two Greek words namely anthos meaning flowers and phobos meaning fear or deep aversion.
Often the excessive fear of flowers is confused with the fear of nature. However, Anthophobia is different in that; the sufferer is mainly only afraid of flowers and not of trees or plants. The majority of Anthophobic individuals however still tend to stay away from nature, especially from flowering plants and trees. But they usually remain morbidly afraid of flowers only. As such, the phobia of flowers is rare and affects only a few people from around the world.
Causes of fear of flowers
- Like most fears, the extreme fear of flowers is a learnt experience. Repeated events related to flowers, such as bees or wasps stinging a child (owing to flowers in the garden) can make the child learn negative things about flowers. This creates negative thinking patterns in the child’s mind. Just like a child will be afraid of touching a hot object after having burnt its hands, the fear of flowers gets permanently etched on the child’s mind.
- Flowers are often associated with funerals. A child who has lost a family member can suddenly develop an excessive fear of flowers due to such traumatic events. Sometimes, the mere presence of flowers while watching a horror movie could lead to a permanent fear of flowers.
- Some cases of Anthophobia are inexplicable; a person develops the fear suddenly and forgets the root cause of why it arose in the first place. The irresistible fear then becomes a part of the individual’s personality and, like a reflex action, one simply cannot control it.
- People with severe seasonal allergies could also develop Anthophobia due to the extreme symptoms they cause in him/her.
- Other mental disorders/anxieties, physical illnesses and deficiencies can also cause the fear of flowers phobia.
Symptoms of Anthophobia
Anthophobia can cause various symptoms including
- A full blown panic attack at the sight or thought of flowers. This includes racing heart, sweaty palms, rapid/accelerated breathing, shivering, shaking, etc. These symptoms might arise at the thought, and not just the sight of flowers.
- A fear of impending doom, thoughts of death or dying or feeling completely powerless over a situation are some other emotional symptoms associated with Anthophobia.
Friends and family members are often unsympathetic towards the individual and this could give rise to feelings of isolation or depression in him/her. Sometimes, the phobic might avoid outings, picnics, visits to gardens, or even funerals and weddings/ parties where flowers are usually present. This could cause him/her to be ridiculed or laughed at.
Overcoming the fear of flowers
Since different people are affected differently by the fear of flowers phobia, the treatment options also vary. If the fear of flowers is affecting one’s day to day life, one must certainly seek help of an experienced psychotherapist. Today, many treatment options are available including cognitive behavior therapy and gradual exposure or systematic desensitization therapies. The latter includes putting the phobic in close proximity of flowers to help him/her control the anxiety and desensitize one once and for all. Some cases can be helped simply by talking to a therapist or through group therapy sessions where other phobics express their fears and the ways in which they are coping with them.
If seasonal allergies are causing one’s phobia, one can get prescription strength medications to alleviate those symptoms. Anxiety reducing drugs are also available to reduce the panic attacks experienced due to one’s Anthophobia. These should be used sparingly.
Hypnotherapy is another option which can help one get to the bottom of the Anthophobia and overcome it once and for all.
I have had this phobia most of my life. I’m 38 now, and once, my little niece came to give me a flower, and I screamed and kicked out at her. I was so scared she would touch me. I felt awful! Sunflowers and any with large heads make me shudder, and the fat stalks are horrific! It’s hard to explain to people why you’re scared of something so many people love. I feel like I’d die if I touched one!
OMG, I am so glad that I am not alone. I have had this phobia since I was a kid, but I don’t remember why. At first, I was afraid of almost all of the plants (especially orchid flowers and sunflowers), but I got better as I grew up. Now, I am only struggling with orchid flowers and some weird-looking plants. I still don’t like other plants and flowers. I don’t want to be too close to them or even touch them, but I am good with just looking at them from a distance. The only exceptions are roses, cherry blossoms, and carnations. Because I also have autism and my family, including myself, knew nothing about phobias when we discovered my fear of plants and flowers, so we thought this was just a symptom of autism which is having a fear of uncommon things. Many people (even my family members at first) didn’t understand why I would be scared by a flower which is a beautiful thing and seemed nothing threatening to them. Of course, I know flowers are pretty, and they can’t do anything bad to me, but I still freak out immediately without consciousness when seeing a flower. I felt so bad being awkward like this.
After many years, I found out a term called “anthophobia” perfectly describes my situation, and then I found this page. I finally know that I am not lonely. I am not strange, either. This is a really good thing to know.
The most annoying part is when you’re named after the FLOWER itself. So, when I was a kid, I didn’t know this was a phobia, then I told some of my friends about it. And that’s when they started to joke around, saying “hahaha how come flower is afraid of flower.” Does it sound weird? Well, I legit translate it to English, but “flower” in my language is actually commonly used as a name. Anyways, I felt so shocked and humiliated after that. Later on, I asked myself, “am I the weird one? Is this weird?” That’s when I started to think that it’s better to keep everything to myself.
*This is a bit out of the story, but I recently had a really sweet dream of someone protecting me from this phobia – the kind of romantic scene I want to experience in real life.
Sahana V Raghavan says
Now I realise I am not alone. Being a 27 year old it was always shameful to tell someone how I felt about flowers (not all). I have been an anthophobic since my childhood. My friends would even try to scare me by bringing flowers near me during my school days. I freak out with the thought of any big wide flowers like the African Tulips, Tulips, Hibiscus etc. Anyone else who touches flowers or are comfortable being around flowers will never ever understand how we feel. Thank you for sharing this.
I am so happy reading the comments here knowing I am not alone. Like many have said here, I am also morbidly scared of almost all flowers, but especially ones with big petals like hibiscus, tulips, roses, lily, etc. I can stand being in the same room with flowers where they are stationary, but if it’s outdoor and the wind is strong then hell no, who knows if the petals will get blown away by the wind to my skin. And I also have an intense phobia of butterflies. In my country, phobias are not very well accepted nor discussed, and so it’s not easy to get consultation. I don’t even know what’s the root of my phobia.
Hey there! My parents discovered my fear since I first learned to walk in childhood. Still till this day I don’t have any idea of the deep info of the phobia or the phobia within itself. I’m currently 24 years old and I have been trying to deal with the fear on my own. While doing so, I myself felt the lack of understanding from others. I never received professional help or guidance growing up, even recently. Now doing lots of research I understand that this phobia affects people differently. We all have phobias but we all react differently. There are some stages that I came to overcome. What I have failed to understand until recently is that the phobia is a life-long challenge. I have so many questions like “Is it possible to overcome or cope with the fear and have symptoms come back?”. “What are further treatments if such treatment doesn’t work for an individual?”. With that being said I have grown to accept nature because I like being outside. I like to be inside with video games and all that but being inside too much for me isn’t good. So I will try to find something to do or occupy me. Simply said I’m just your normal active person. Currently today being around tons and tons of flowers don’t bother me. The only thing is that I will not touch, garden or interact physically with my bare hands. I know right! Pretty crazy huh? There were a few moments where I forced myself to touch or hold gift prepared (wrapped) roses. Only because I didn’t want family members or a girl I like to know about the phobia. Some people don’t know I have the phobia. The ones that do believe it doesn’t bother me. Till this day it still does, my only problem is touching them. I couldn’t care less of everything else.
Mine is a carnation. I’m petrified of them. I think I somehow associate it with death. All I do know is that I freak all the way out and when I tell people they think I’m crazy.
Yellow flowers are the worst for my phobia. Especially dandelions and sunflowers but I’m OK with a few like tulips and roses but I wouldn’t be able to pick them. I’m so glad there’s others out there like me who know the suffering. I get chased so often I’m afraid of walking alone and the thought of needing to go to a florist sends shivers down my spine.
I also have anthophobia and no.3 is true about me, although my mom does have some suspicions. I fear nearly any kind of flowers, especially large and open ones (also mainly irises, anthurium and sunflowers as they tend to grow near where I live). Tiny flowers smaller than a fingernail aren’t that bad. My family and friends tease me about it from time to time, but my mom and young brother care for me and will get flowers out of my way and they try to understand me as much as possible. Thank you for reading.
I have anthophobia. My friends always make fun of me. Usually they scare me with flowers. I don’t know why flowers just look interesting but scare me. Usually most of the flowers that I’m afraid of are Hibiscus/China rose, Orchid, Jasmine, Rose of Sharon. I’m just scared by the shape of the flower. The more unique the flower shape is, the more scared I get. The weird thing is I’m not scared by the leaves or the trunks, it’s only the flower. I don’t know if there’s a lot of people out there who has anthophobia too.
Oh my gosh! I have the exact same problem. I just get afraid of china rose and other flowers of that sort. Though small ones like daisy, marigold, jasmine are really pretty and I really like them. Especially roses but ones likes hibiscus, dahlia and other big wide ones just give me full on panic.
Hi, can I use your comment for my presentation?
I’m absolutely terrified of flowers, specially the ‘open’ sort like hibiscus, foxglove or lilies. Once I accidentally got brushed by a lily and almost had a heart attack from panic! Just the thought of these flowers make me cringe.
I am afraid of certain flowers and not all flowers.
I dread the smell and fear touching them.
I come from a culture where people clad flowers on their hair and enjoy it .
I dread the day when I have to walk out on somebody or hurt myself if I am compelled to touch to clad flowers.
Just the thought of it scares me.
That is interesting. I feel you.
OMG this is so me! I would never dare to touch, smell, or even look at ’em (especially hibiscus) and the culture thingy, that also hit me so close to home.
I’m 39 and I’ve been anthophobic for most of my life. I try not to freak out in front of my kids as I’d rather they didn’t get scared over something so daft. I can’t touch any flower apart from daisies and forget me nots. I can’t even touch the stalks. Once a sunflower slipped and touched my arm and I was jumping around like a bee stung me. I know why I’m afraid and I also know flowers can’t hurt me. I just avoid them mostly. But I’m OK with practical flowers such as tree blossom and fruiting plants. I can actually approach and pollinate with a brush. Any other flower and I’m gone!
I think i got it from watching a very slightly scary b-movie followed by a practical joke by my dad when very young. Hibiscus, Foxgloves and tulips are all at the extreme end of my aversion like these guys. Also daffodils, and like laila i’m weirdly only weakly averse to daisies. The thought of them being even near my face or skin is HORRID. If i get brushed I want to wash the affected area.. pretty much forever.
Same as me.. my God.
I saw a bit of day of the triffids when was about 4 so yeah thats all i cant think about when it comes to flowers and if i have to pick some fruits. Also the tickle flowers in Coleraine.
Anup Satam says
Thank you! I thought I was the only one in this world with such thing. Flowers really make me uncomfortable, not just the smell or sight, but the thought or a mere mention/description. They make me conscious and anxious. And this feeling is very hard to explain to my dear ones. No one really considers this legitimate. I didn’t know why I am this way, but now I know that this condition exists around the world. I will take your advice and consult a therapist. Thank you again.
I’m so glad we are not alone.
Mine is the nr. 3 it just happens when my mom goes to pick flowers to show me that they are harmless my reflexes stops my moms hand from either reaching the flower or get the flower close to me and if I accidentally touch one my hand will go close to my chest and it will feel kinda itchy even tho it’s not. It just annoys me. It even feels itchy thinking about it.
I think I’ve got it. I’m absolutely afraid of flowers, mostly foxglove/foxtrot and lilies and I cannot bear the thought of being in the same garden as them, thinking of them or even hearing about them. :( and I basically have a fir if someone shoves a crocus or a foxglove or a tulip or any flower in my face. Daisies are probably one of the only flowers I am not afraid of.
I cant stand all flowers even pictures. I’ve been anthophobic since I was born and my symptoms are getting worse. I have fear of all flowers. For example: I only live in desert in Minecraft. The monsters looks like flowers and world of warcraft is a bad dream for me. I never told my symptoms to my friends because I am afraid they’ll play jokes on it. They can’t feel it. The only thing i could do is get away from all flowers in my life.
Chahat tiwari says
I also have anthophobia.. I’m mostly afraid of hibiscus flower or china rose..
Peter Paterson says
Greetings Chahat, glad to meet a fellow person with the same condition.
I too get freaked out by hibiscus, and had to image search for china rose, closing the page as fast as I could.
We share this phobia with Christina Ricci.
For the record I am now 50 years old, and my phobia started in teen years of unknown to me now origin.
Me too.. its so weird and ugly.