Valentine's Day

Spice Up Your Valentine’s Day… With Plants

Valentine’s Day is all about love: romantic love, of course, but also sensual, carnal love. So, in the run-up to the holiday, why not take a look at an often overlooked aspect of plants? Let’s take a look at their use as love potions and aphrodisiacs.

Photo: Karolina Grabowska

In fact, since time immemorial, various plants have been used to ” nurture ” love. Consuming them is believed to rekindle a sense of romance and desire, or make one more desirable. Is this true? Scientific studies are far from conclusive… but since the most important part of sex takes place somewhere between your ears, the placebo effect may play a major role. The woman who serves a love potion may be so confident that it will work that her own actions will inflame her lover’s desire; the man who treats his girlfriend to an aphrodisiac meal can often seduce her better because he now believes she is won over, and her convinced ardor delights him.

Ancient Traditions

Since science is undecided on the subject of aphrodisiacs and love potions, why is it that, since the dawn of time, certain plants have been considered to have a stimulating effect? Often, it’s the shape or texture of the plant that reminds us of a heart, phallus or vagina. According to the Doctrine of Signs, an ancient belief that was considered science itself until the 19th century, God had created all plants for the exclusive use of humans, and had left some clue to their usefulness – a shape, a smell, a color – that you had to know how to interpret in order to recognize their usefulness.

Thus, the silvery spots on the leaf of a pulmonaria (Pulmonaria) were reminiscent of a diseased lung; surely this plant had been designated by God to treat lung disease. The red sap of the bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) necessarily meant that it was useful for treating blood, and so on. And the unequivocal shape of a rigid asparagus spear was surely a sign that it could treat a lack of libido in men.

In other cases, the raison d’être for a plant’s alleged effects was its energizing effect on the consumer. Then, all that was needed was to know how to direct the energy to its intended purpose!

A Few Aphrodisiac Plants


Photo: Karolina Grabowska

Garlic has been considered an aphrodisiac since at least the time of the ancient Greeks, who found its “heat” stimulating. But be careful! That’s only if it’s eaten by both partners. Otherwise, garlic on the breath would certainly deter love.


Photo: Karolina Grabowska

Coming from a fruit that, seen from the right angle, bears a clear resemblance to the female sex, almonds have been recognized as a symbol of fertility since the dawn of time. Its aroma is reputed to stimulate passion in women. Treat your beloved to almond chocolate (see below) and you’ve got a deal!


Photo: Karolina Grabowska

C’est peut-être la plante aphrodisiaque la plus connue. Avec sa tige droite et épaisse, phallique à souhait, c’est certain que la consommer devrait pouvoir contrer les problèmes érectiles et attiser l’ardeur. Paraît-il que la consommer 3 jours de suite ferait des merveilles!


Photo: ready made

The Aztecs, inspired by the fruit’s suggestive shape, called the avocado “the testicle tree”. That’s all it took to see it as a powerful aphrodisiac. Today, its texture is considered sensual. Sharing an avocado with a partner would undoubtedly be a sophisticated invitation to “get down to business”.


Photo: alleksana 

The banana fruit could not be more phallic, making it one of the most popular of traditional aphrodisiac foods. What’s more, it’s rich in potassium and B vitamins, which are necessary for the production of sex hormones.


Photo: Anna Tukhfatullina

In small quantities, caffeine is a stimulant; on the other hand, it’s a depressant if used in excess. Having just the right amount of coffee before a night of lovemaking will help make it last until dawn!


Photo: Nataliya Vaitkevich

And you thought carrots were only good for the eyes! Its phallic shape has long stimulated the imagination and is said to be stimulating for men. Middle Eastern royalty used them as an aid to seduction. What’s more, rich in vitamins and beta-carotene, it’s very good for general health… and sexual performance.


Photo: Anete Lusina

Of course, chocolate is a plant: it derives from the fruit of the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao). The Aztecs called it the “food of the gods”, which is also what Theobroma means. Chocolate contains chemicals reputed to influence the brain’s neurotransmitters, as well as the stimulant theobromine. So if your new lover offers you chocolate, it could be that they are proposing… to go further?


Photo: Nadi Lindsay

An open fig is said to be reminiscent of the female sex, and so tradition sees the fig as a sexual stimulant. When a man opens and eats a fig in front of his lover, he is committing a powerful erotic act. It goes without saying that, for maximum effect, you should eat the fig with your fingers, looking the other person directly in the eyes. How suggestive!


Photo: Karolina Grabowska

Red and heart-shaped: what better way to stimulate love? In the past, young girls were forbidden to consume this fruit before the age of 15, lest it stimulate precocious romantic desires. Rich in sugar, strawberries also give you energy.


‘That which burns stimulates’ is the belief. So mustard is said to stimulate the sexual glands and increase desire.

Hot Peppers

Photo: Ivan Torres

It doesn’t get much hotter than hot peppers, especially habañeros. And what burns stimulates. Spice up your Valentine’s Day celebration with a spicy meal based on this fiery fruit.


Pine nuts vaguely resemble testicles: that’s all it took for this product to become a traditional aphrodisiac. Pine nuts have been used since medieval times to stimulate the male libido. Interestingly, zinc is now known to be necessary for maintaining virility. Well, pine nuts are rich in zinc!

Red Wine

Photo: Jep Gambardella

The red of a red wine is reminiscent of the blush on the lips and cheeks of a sexually aroused woman, and drinking wine stimulates a similar blush. That’s all it takes to see red wine as a first-rate aphrodisiac. However, alcohol is a depressant: too much wine can stimulate the desire, but cut off the ability!

And Much More

Obviously, the list of aphrodisiac plants and love potions goes on and on… but there are enough ideas here to get you started.

Have a happy – and sensual! – Valentine’s Day!

Larry Hodgson published thousands of articles and 65 books over the course of his career, in both French and English. His son, Mathieu, has made it his mission to make his father’s writings accessible to the public. This text was originally published in Le Soleil newspaper on February 12, 2006.

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

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