The Flower represents the principle that lies at the deepest recesses of our art. To know the meaning of the Flower is the most important element in understanding the Noh, and its greatest secret.
First of all, one must understand the conception that, just as a flower can be observed blooming in nature, the Flower can be used as well as a metaphor for all things in the Noh.
When speaking of flowers, in all their myriad varieties, it can be said that they will bloom at their appointed time during the four seasons; and because they always seem fresh and novel when they bloom at that appointed season, they are highly appreciated. In performing Sarugaku as well, when this art appears novel to the spectators, they will be moved to find it attractive.
Flower, charm and novelty: all three of them partake of the same essence. There is no flower that remains, and whose petals do not scatter. Yet it is just because the petals scatter that, when the flower blooms again, it will seem fresh and novel. However, a note of caution is necessary. When one speaks of novelty the term does not necessarily refer to some means of artistic expression that never existed before.
A real Flower is one that seems novel to the imagination of the spectator. Yet the Flower is not something special unto itself. The Flower represents a mastery of technique and thorough practice, achieved in order to create a feeling of novelty.
The Flower blooms from the imagination of the spectator, the seed represents the various skills of our art.
from ‘Style and the Flower‘ (1418) On the Art of the Noh Drama: The Major Treatises of Zeami, English translation J. Thomas Rimer and Yamazaki Masakuzu, Princeton U. Press, 1984.