(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on February 15, 2009. The author passed away a few years ago, so there will not be any responses to any questions or comments posted to the article.)

Look past the obvious to find hidden messages of love.

I have two sisters. During our childhood, they both collected a variety of items, including red dishes, heart shapes, owl figurines and mushroom decorations. My parents wanted me to collect something, so gift shopping would be easier. I did not want to collect because I loved so many things. (I still do not have a favorite color because I believe that every color is perfect in its proper setting.) Thirty years later, I finally realize that I collect plants and pictures I have taken. Strangely enough, I'm not sure that either one of my sisters collect anything now.

Since digital cameras were invented, I have enjoyed taking more pictures, and I have taken numerous pictures of heart-shaped items in nature. Some of these pictures are featured below. Many of the hearts are easy to spot; others will require a bit of imagination. There are hundreds of heart-shaped items in nature. In fact, you could plant a garden full of heart shapes. At the end of this article is a list of over fifty plants that have heart-shaped flowers, leaves, markings or seeds. If you plant even a third of these, your home or a home of a loved one could be surrounded with the symbol of love.

Many theories abound about why the heart shape was adopted to represent love. I choose to believe that it might simply be because the heart shape is quite abundant in nature. Some say that the heart shape appears to be a modified version of the human heart, while others think the shape was drawn to resemble a cow's heart. If you are a mathematician, you know that the heart shape can easily be drawn by equations. In fact, fractals can produce amazing heart shapes. See the following articles by LariAnn Garner for more information: Fractals in Nature - An Introduction to Organized Chaos!, Fractals in Nature - Leaves and Blooms, Fractals in Nature - The Big(ger) Picture!, and Fractals in Nature - and for the Holidays as well!.

In modern society, the heart shape is associated with emotions, mainly kindness and love. That is why I enjoy taking pictures of heart-shaped objects, and I hope you enjoy these pictures as well.




Photo copyrighted: April Campbell
Fall leaves
Precious Moments Chapel in MO

Photo copyrighted: Tiffanya
Viola 'Miniola Heart Ice Blue'

Photo copyrighted: April Campbell
African Mask, Amazon Elephant's Ear


Photo copyrighted: April Campbell
Morning Glory
'Grandpa Ott's'

Photo copyrighted: April Campbell

Photo copyrighted: Jill M. Nicolaus


Photo copyrighted: Jill M. Nicolaus

Photo copyrighted: Jill M. Nicolaus
Wax Hearts, Sweetheart Hoya,
Valentine Hoya
Hoya kerrii 'Variegata'

Photo copyrighted: Sally G. Miller
Fall Redbud leaf

Image Image Image

Photo copyrighted: Sally G. Miller
Bushel gourd leaves

Photo copyrighted: April Campbell
Upside-down Pansy

Photo copyrighted: Sally G. Miller
Butternut squash leaves


Photo copyrighted: April Campbell
Redbud leaves with a lion hearted shadow.

Photo copyrighted: Ulrich PlantFiles picture
Heart-leaved Storkbill
Geranium Pelargonium cordifolium

Interesting note:
The study of the qualitative characters or features of a plant, including leaf and flower shape is called plant morphology (or phytomorphology).

Even as you look past the leaves and flowers that are heart-shaped, you may find other little love messages in nature. Keep your eyes open and your imagination alive. I have posted a number of unusual heart pictures below. Enjoy the tour from the center heart of an apple and a spooky heart shape in the trees to a stone heart and a white heart in a purple Iris. Messages of love abound; if you are feeling sad or lonely, just look around. Or, better yet, plant yourself a garden full of heart shaped things. Share nature's Valentine surprise by sending a link to this article to a good friend today; just click on the link at the bottom of the article.

Image Image Image

Photo copyrighted: April Campbell
Cut apple

Photo copyrighted: April Campbell
Cut tree

Photo copyrighted: April Campbell
Amazing message in the trees.
Photo was not edited.


Photo copyrighted: April Campbell
A heart of stone.

Photo copyrighted: Susan Anderson
Tomato 'Linnie's Oxheart'

Photo copyrighted: Margie Valenzuela
'Don's Other Love' Iris



Photo copyrighted: Michele Meyer
Love in a Puff, Heartseed
(Little white hearts imprinted on the seeds)

Photo copyrighted: ladyrowan
Strawberry 'Sequoia'

During my research, I found many plants that sport the heart shape. Here is a list of some of them:

Alocasia x amazonica (African Mask)
Lamium maculatum
Asarum muramatsui
Epimedium x rubrum (Bishops' Mitre 'Sweetheart')
Dicentra spectabilis (Bleeding Heart)
Hedera colchica (Bullock's Heart Ivy)
Cucurbita pepo (Bushel gourd)
Cucurbita moschata (Butternut squash)
Caladium (Angel Wings or Heart of Jesus)
Cardiospermum halicacabum (Love in a Puff, Heartseed)
Tilia americana var. caroliniana (Carolina Basswood, Beetree)
Houttuynia cordata (Chameleon Plant)
Solenostemon scutellarioides (Coleus)
Colocasia esculenta
Heuchera (Coral Bells)
Dischidia obcordata
Nymphoides peltata (Floating Heart)
Nymphoides indica (Floating Heart)
Tiarella wherryi (Foamflower)
Tiarella cordifolia (Allegheny Foamflower)
Colocasia esculenta (Hawaiian Heart Plant)
Hemionitis arifolia (Heart Fern)
Ampelopsis cordata (Heart-leaf Ampelopsis)
Arnica cordifolia (Heart-leaved Arnica)
Brunnera macrophylla (Heartleaf Brunnera)
Chorizema cordatum (Heart-leaved Flame Pea)
Aptenia cordifolia (Heartleaf Ice Plant)
Keckiella cordifolia (Heartleaf Penstemon)
Philodendron scandens subsp. oxycardium (Heart Leaf Philodendron)
Hibiscus martianus (Heartleaf Rosemallow; leaves and seeds)
Scutellaria ovata (Heartleaf Skullcap)
Pelargonium cordifolium (Heart-leaved Storkbill)
Hoya obovata
Iris (Dwarf Bearded Iris 'Red Heart')
Iris ('Don's Other Love')
Clerodendrum x speciosum (Java Glory Vine, Heart Vine)
Paulownia tomentosa var. coreana (Korean Foxglove Tree)
Jatropha cardiophylla (Limberbush, Dragon's Blood)
Epimedium grandiflorum (Longspur Epimedium)
Ipomoea alba (Moonflower)
Ipomoea (Morning glory)
Ipomoea batatas (Ornamental Sweet Potato Vine)
Cercis canadensis (Redbud Tree)
Hibiscus syriacus (Rose of Sharon; seeds)
Entada gigas (Sea Heart, Nicker Bean)
Brunnera macrophylla (Siberian Bugloss)
Galanthus (Snowdrop 'Ophelia')
Catalpa bignonioides (Southern Catalpa, Catawba Tree)
Fragaria x ananassa (Strawberry)
Ceropegia woodii (String of Hearts)
Lycopersicon lycopersicum (Tomato 'Linnie's Oxheart')
Lycopersicon lycopersicum (Tomato 'Heart of the Bull')
Lycopersicon lycopersicum (Tomato 'Theineman's Australian Heart')
Lycopersicon lycopersicum (Tomato 'Japanese Oxheart')
Paulownia elongata (World Paulownia Empress Tree)
Viola odorata (Violet)

For detailed information on any of the above, please search Dave's Garden PlantFiles.

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