Flower Facts

The Meaning and Symbolism of Orchids

Orchid Meaning

Everyone who’s ever seen one knows that orchids are among beautiful flowers in the world. They also may know that they come in thousands of varieties (over 35,000 in fact), but did you know that the orchid is also one of the most symbolic flowers in history? The orchid meaning has made it a hugely popular flower in bouquets and decorative flower arrangements for centuries.

Of course, by meaning so many different things to different people, it can often leave people confused and asking questions like, “What do white orchids mean?” or “What is the best type of orchid to use in a hospital Bouq?”

To help you get a better idea of all of these we’ve decided to a bit of investigating.

Orchid meaning and variations:

  • Perfection
  • Fertility (especially for men)
  • Love
  • Luxury
  • Innocence
  • Strength

The name “orchid” itself derives from the ancient Greek word “orchis,” meaning testicles. An ancient writer, Theophrastos, gave them this name because he thought that that’s exactly what their bulbs looked like. Whether or not he’s correct, we can all probably be a bit thankful that nobody bothered to translate the name into modern day English as it would make ordering, admiring, delivering, or talking about this wonderful flower far weirder than it has to be.


What do white orchids mean?

Out of all orchids, the white orchid meaning has been something that people have long had strong opinions on. Orchids were always highly prized because of their rarity and beauty; however the color-coded associations that they developed had broader cultural connotations. Thus, the white orchid meaning is heavily drawn from the characteristics generally associated with that color. These are:

  • Innocence
  • Purity
  • Hope
  • Reverence
  • Refinement

As they were also so expensive, they became a popular gift upon the birth of a child, for those who also wanted to show off a bit. For the Victorians in England, the white orchid was seen as a sign of wealth, and in Japan, it was particularly treasured by royalty.


Orchids as national representatives

These weren’t the only countries to put great value on orchids. Across the globe, different cultures and nations have taken on orchids as their own floral representation because of the flower’s beauty and wealth of meanings. These include:

  • Columbia: May Flower Orchid
  • Costa Rica: Guaria Morada Orchid
  • Brazil: Corsage Orchid
  • Indonesia: Moon Orchid
  • Belize: Black Orchid
  • Seychelles: Tropicbird Orchid
  • Panama: Holy Ghost Orchid
  • Singapore: Singapore Orchid
  • Venezuela: May Flower Orchid
  • Honduras: Brassavola Digbyana Orchid
  • Cayman Islands: Wild Banana Orchid

It’s no surprise that orchids have become so famous and loved in all of these countries. Apart from their beauty, orchids are generally native to tropical climates, and due to their variety, many countries host unique specimens to be proud of.


Orchids and their meanings around the world

Orchids have come to symbolize a lot more than national identity though. Throughout many different societies, the wonderful flowers have held great ceremonial and cultural value.

The Ancient Greeks, for example, felt that it was a great symbol of male virility and Greek women would give meals of the plants’ bulbs to their husband if they wanted to conceive a male child. Considering the name they gave us for the flower in English, that’s not much of a surprise!

In Ancient China, orchids held great importance for a variety of reasons. In medicine, it was believed to assist the lungs and so was given to people with a bad cough. Confucius, the great Chinese philosopher, believed that honest and virtuous people were just like orchids because they were both perfect representations of culture.

In parts of the Philippines, orchids play a role as the protectors of forests, while further south, in Indonesia, ludisia or jewel orchids are believed to be made up of parts of fairy cloaks.

As well as the meaning and symbolism of orchids, they are also used widely in cooking. In fact, you probably consume orchids quite regularly without even knowing it. That’s because vanilla, one of the world’s favorite flavors, which appears in everything from ice-cream to cupcake icing to lipstick, is derived from a species of orchid.

The many spectacular varieties and colors of orchids make them a perfect addition to any Bouquet and our artisan florists are only too happy to create a spectacular creation just for you. We’ve also introduced a subscription service so that you can be guaranteed to have the meaningful flowers you love brightening up your home or workplace on a constant basis

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