I’m currently writing a story and one of my characters is a butterfly. In one of the scenes, she manages to run away from a bunch of hungry lizards and hides into a flower; let’s say a Zinnia.

When describing the scene I wrote:

“……she dived into the Zinnia’s head and hastily rolled into the pollen….”

But then, I found that the expression “flower head” means: “A dense, compact cluster of small flowers that appear to be a single flower, as of a dandelion or clover.”

Thus, I changed the word to:

“…she dived into the Zinnia’s heart and hastily rolled into the pollen….”

Would it be correct?

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  • 1
    Hi, is this a children's book? If so, I suggest the tag children. It changes the focus of the answers.
    – Cyn
    Jun 12, 2019 at 15:33
  • 1
    “A dense, compact cluster of small flowers that appear to be a single flower" which is exactly what a Zinnia is, being part of the Asteraceae or Compositae family....
    – Spagirl
    Jun 12, 2019 at 15:56
  • @Cyn it's for young adults.
    – vanity
    Jun 12, 2019 at 16:12
  • 1
    Great. I added the tag and also gave your post a light reformat.
    – Cyn
    Jun 12, 2019 at 16:15
  • 1
    @jpmc26 "Dove" isn't a verb in British English. It's either a well known brand of soaps and cosmetics, or one of the en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbidae.
    – alephzero
    Jun 13, 2019 at 14:54

3 Answers 3


A few alternatives:

She dived into the flower.

She dived into the zinnia's flower.

She dived into the petals.

She dived into the zinnia's center.

Or, simply:

She dived into the pollen.

Add the rolling in pollen parts if needed.

I realize you want to differentiate between zinnia the plant and the actual flower. You don't want your readers thinking she's going to be hiding under the leaves.

Both "head" and "heart" have other connotations; using either of those terms might pull the reader out of the story. My guess is that your story is for children (because of the butterfly character). If this is the case, then you really want your language to be clear and easy to follow. In any case, avoid terms that aren't perfectly clear.

  • Are the different connotations of heart and head necessarily a bad thing? They allow you to have the prose do more than one thing. For example: Heart's associations with the safety of a hug.
    – Weckar E.
    Jun 17, 2019 at 19:19
  • @WeckarE. If it's purposeful and says what you want, then you're good. You just don't want your reader going places counter to your intentions. Of course it's fine (and desirable) for readers to find things from your story you didn't anticipate, but you want them to get there seamlessly.
    – Cyn
    Jun 17, 2019 at 20:28

Putting scientific definition aside, "Flower head" works better since it's a personification. The human reader has no trouble associating the upper part of a body with the upper part of a flower.

On the contrary, "a flower's heart" is a little harder to imagine. Without further context, I would struggle to understand what you mean, exspecially since I'm not an expert botanist (before looking it up on google, I had no idea how a Zinnia's looked like). It could still work, providing more context:

“……she dived between the Zinnia's petals, in the secluded heart that kept the pollen safe…"

  • 1
    Heart is synonymous with center for me. I thought that was a pretty common interpretation, but maybe not?
    – JPhi1618
    Jun 13, 2019 at 14:20
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    @JPhi1618 Maybe it's me, but it seems less effective as a figure of speech. True enough, if you look at the Zinnia's in the picture, its pretty clear what the heart-center is. But if you don't know how a Zinnia looks like, and you think about a generic flower, it loses much of its significance.
    – Liquid
    Jun 13, 2019 at 14:25
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    That makes sense. It's hard to detach from the nice picture in the question, but if the pic was of an entire plant with stems and leaves the logical center might be harder to point out.
    – JPhi1618
    Jun 13, 2019 at 14:27
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    @Liquid @ JPhi1618 How about: "After a relentless hunt through dense bushes and thick foliage, her tired wings failed her at last. The poor thing fell into a Zinnia's flower head. Swaying between hope and despair, she dived between the flower's petals and rolled in the secluded heart that kept the pollen safe...'' It sounds better doesn't it?
    – vanity
    Jun 13, 2019 at 22:06
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    Flower head isn't 'scientifically incorrect' for a Zinnia. It describes composite flowers, a Zinnia is a composite flower.
    – Spagirl
    Jun 14, 2019 at 12:38

I'm probably gonna be crucified for this given the relative lack of artsiness, but why not say 'landed amid the Zinnia's anthers and covered herself in pollen'.

Anthers being the rods which present the pollen of a plant. Stamen also works, as that's the whole male apparatus of a plant. More here:



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