Romans used palm fronds as a symbol of victory. Christians adapted them to symbolize a martyr’s triumph over death and, by extension, any believer’s triumph over death. They are frequently seen in city cemeteries alone or blended with other symbols.
Palm fronds, Pere-Lachaise
The kinds of pineapples we eat are symbols of hospitality, because they were often presented as gifts from seafarers after they returned from South America. Bronze plaques in the shape of a pineapple are often used on a home’s front door.
The apple of the pine tree, the pine cone, is used as a decoration for homes and in funerary art as a symbol of immortality and incorruptibility. The evergreen tree it comes from represents immortality, and its sticky resin, which resists dilution or removal (just ask any parent who has tried to remove it from their child’s hair), represents incorruptibility. Romans associated the pine cone with Aphrodite (Venus) and fertility.
Pine cone, Montmartre
The pansy, also called heartsease because of its heart shape, is a symbol for remembrance and specifically hearing the thoughts of a loved one. Indeed, the name pansy comes from the French word pensee (thought). It’s said that attending to the plucked blossom enables one to hear a beloved’s thoughts. Pansies are also called johnny-jump-ups, and were first widely cultivated during the nineteenth century, the golden age of the cemetery.