The symbolism of flowers stems from a rich history of cultural significance and unique stories. The meaning of orchids, specifically, has grown and flourished from the ancient Greeks and Aztecs to the Victorian Era and modern-day Japan. Take a journey with our flower experts here at Gainan’s Flowers, Billing’s number one florist, as we dive deeper into the inspiring symbolism behind the magnificent orchid.
Before we take this plunge, let’s travel back to the mid-1750s as Swedish naturalist, Peter Osbeck gave the Phalaenopsis orchid its most common nickname, “the moth orchid.” While looking out his window, he mistakenly believed to view a cluster of moths instead of this blooming plant. Other orchid names, such as Cymbidium and Dendrobium, stem from the Greek language. “Cymbidium” comes from the Greek word “kymbos,” which refers to the boat-like shape of the flower’s lip. “Dendrobium” means “life in a tree” and refers to the fun fact that this bloom is often attached to trees.
Cultural Uses and Symbolism of Orchids
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that orchids have been linked to virility and fertility since ancient times. The word “orchid” in the Greek language translates to “testicle” and describes the appearance of plant’s tubers. It has also been believed that Greek men would consume large tuberous roots in hopes to soon have a son. The women would consume small orchid roots if they wanted to give birth to a daughter. Still today, as a symbol of fertility, these beautiful blooms are perfect for celebrating growing families, expecting mothers, and even newlyweds, especially pink orchids.
Orchid flowers were once believed to be a means to obtaining great power and strength in the Aztec culture. This flowering plant was a main ingredient, alongside chocolate in an elixir that was through to bring such strength, power, and courage to those who consumed it. Today, the symbolism and meaning of orchids still encompass these qualities of strength and power, and courage is still connected to the passion-filled red orchid.
It is believed that the Victorian Era “suffered” from what is known as “Orchidelirium.” Around the time Charles Darwin’s 1862 work on orchid fertilization was published, the wealthiest families became obsessed with the marvelous orchid. This unique flower quickly became a symbol of refined taste, luxury, opulence, elegance, and rarity. Still to this day, the meaning of orchids, especially purple orchids, is incomplete without these symbols in addition to royalty, wealth, and admiration.
With a wide variety of plants, spices, and herbs being used in ancient Chinese medicine, Dendrobium Orchids have been among the most popular ingredients. Orchids were commonly used in remedies and treatments for ailments in the lungs, stomach, eyes, and kidneys. As a representation of good health and good luck, this inspiring flower remains a symbol of such and is a great choice to send to those battling an illness or recovering.
If you ever find yourself in Japan, you may notice orchids on display in many homes and office buildings to help bring good fortune. These wondrous, unique blooms are not just a symbol of fertility or good fortune in Japanese culture, but share the meanings of power, strength, and luxury with others. However, this symbolism in Japan stems from the orchid’s ability to adapt, survive, and thrive in a variety of habitats, from mountains and plains to exotic locations.
Today, orchids remain a symbol of love, fertility, charm, beauty, refinement, luxury, strength, and thoughtfulness. Although these flowers are no longer the first ingredient in elixirs or modern medicines, orchids are a popular fragrance in beauty products and candles. From Cymbidium and Phalaenopsis to Dendrobium orchids, these flowers prove to be a lovely gift fitting for just about any occasion. Select the freshest blooms and most beautiful orchids here at Gainan’s Flowers.