"an allusion to the dame aux camélias, who always wore a white cammelia, as we know, but wore a red one at the time of her period"
Camellia, (2007)
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeCamellia, (2007) - Credit: KENPEI

   The Lady of the Cammelias (1848), by Alexandre Dumas the younger, is a semi-autobiographical novel chronicling a young nobleman's tragic love affair with the enchanting courtesan Marguerite Gautier.  Her substitution of red for white camellias signifies that she is menstruating, and therefore sexually unavailable. 

 

 

Online edition of Dumas' 'La Dame Aux Camilias', (1848)