Orchids have had a noteworthy impact on a wide variety of cultures and eras, from ancient Greece to modern-day Japan. Throughout the past 26 to 110 million years, the meaning of orchids has flourished between its cultural significances and special utilizations. Discover more as our floral experts here at Gordon Boswell, the best florist in Fort Worth, dive into the history and symbolism of the wonderous orchid.
The Greeks are credited for officially giving orchids their name, including the Cymbidium Orchid (from the Greek word “kymbos”) and Dendrobium Orchid (meaning “life in tree”). However, when it comes to the Phalaenopsis Orchid, Swedish Naturalist, Peter Osbeck is credited for its nickname. As he gazed out his window in the mid-1750s, he believed he saw a cluster of moths in a field, but what he actually saw was the rare Phalaenopsis. Still today, the nickname “moth orchid” remains.
Historical Meaning and Symbolism of Orchids
In ancient Greece, a strong connection was made between orchids and fertility. As the word “orchid” translates to “testicle” in the Greek language, it describes the orchid’s tuberous roots. Aside from its physical appearance, this symbol of fertility was used by the ancient Greeks to control the gender of babies. If men consumed a large tuberous orchid root, it was believed they would have a son. If the women consumed a smaller tuberous root, they were expected to give birth to a daughter. Pink orchids are still the perfect gift for expecting mothers and growing families today.
To the ancient Aztec culture, orchids were a sign of power and strength. Since the Aztecs believed in the “magic” of these beautiful blooms so much, vanilla orchids would often be mixed with chocolate in an elixir thought to promote power and strength. Did becoming a powerful empire in Mesoamerica have much to do with this wonderful flowering plant?
In Victorian times, upper-class families could not obtain enough orchids to adorn their homes and accessorize with. As a result, these magnificent and rare flowering plants became a symbol of refinement, luxury, opulence, and elegance. Many give credit to Charles Darwin’s 1862 book “Fertilisation of Orchids,” for sparking this obsession known as “Orchidelirium.” Today, the meaning of orchids and the symbolism of purple orchids, are incomplete without this connection to refined taste, luxury, elegance, beauty, and royalty.
Ancient Chinese medical practitioners often selected orchids to help treat lung diseases and brutal coughing. In addition, these flowering plants were utilized in treatments for things like eye diseases, stomach deficiencies, and kidney diseases. While there are thousands of orchid types, the one most often used in Chinese medicine is the Dendrobium Orchid, also known as the “bamboo orchid.” Today, good health is still symbolized by vivid green orchids in many cultures.
While orchids are a symbol of fertility, power, strength, luxury, and good fortune in Japanese culture, this isn’t due to elixirs concocted by the Aztecs or a widespread orchid obsession in the Victorian Ages. Orchids are a rare bloom with the ability to survive and thrive in habitats that range from exotic places to the plains and mountains. In Japan, this is a representation of a rich and luxurious life as well as power and strength. You’ll find orchids in many homes and offices in Japan as they believe this wondrous flower is sure to bring fertility, or good fortune, in their everyday and business lives.
In modern America, orchids are no longer a popular medicinal ingredient or used as an elixir for power and strength, but a lovely fragrance in candles and beauty products. This uniquely beautiful bloom also proves to be fitting for a variety of celebrations and occasions, from Mother’s Day and baby showers to weddings and “just because.” Find this symbol of love, luxury, charm, thoughtfulness, beauty, fertility, strength, and thoughtfulness here at Gordon Boswell.