Between 26 and 110 million years ago, orchids were discovered. This has given them an awfully long time to develop a rich history full of marvelous stories. We credit Peter Osbeck, a Swedish Naturalist for giving Phalaenopsis Orchids their nickname, “moth orchid” in the mid-1750s as he once mistook this plant for a small cluster of moths. The Greek language has had a significant impact on the names of various orchids. The name “Cymbidium Orchid” is derived from the word “kymbos” meaning boat, which is descriptive for this flower’s bottom lip. The Dendrobium Orchid translates to “life in a tree” in the Greek language as well.
In their time, orchids have also become an extraordinary symbol for love, refinement, beauty, charm, fertility, and thoughtfulness. Of course, we have all the “behind the scenes” information on how these symbols came to be. Take a trip back in time with us as your friends here at WildFlower, the best florist in Baltimore and Annapolis, dive into the cultural significance of orchids.
Orchid Uses and Symbolism Through History
In ancient Greece, orchid roots were used to predict the gender of babies before birth. A large tuberous room indicated a male child while a small root indicated a female child. Just as the Greek’s connected orchids with fertility, this symbol still holds true today. Pink orchid flowers are especially appropriate to celebrate newborns, growing families, and expecting mothers.
In the ancient Aztec civilization, it was believed that orchids, symbolizing strength and power, would bring these qualities to those who consumed it. They even created an elixir of white orchids and vanilla. We may assume this seemingly delicious elixir did its job, as the Aztec Empire was once the most powerful in Mesoamerica.
The Victorian Era saw a spike in the demand for orchid flowers among royal and wealthy families. Some credit the work of Charles Darwin and his 1862 book, “Fertilisation of Orchids,” for this “Orchidelirium.” As this beautiful bloom became a symbol of luxury and refined taste, the wealthy became obsessed with collecting orchids. Today, these flowers remain a symbol of refinement, and purple orchids are still connected to royalty
Ancient Chinese medicine ingredients commonly included the orchid flower, specifically the dendrobium orchid, or the “Bamboo Orchid.” Orchids were often utilized to aid in treatments for brutal coughs, lung diseases, eye diseases, kidney diseases, and stomach deficiencies. Today, the green orchid is still a strong representation of good health in many cultures around the world.
Orchids are unique flowers in that they’re able to survive and thrive in a variety of habitats, including both the plains and mountains. In Japan, this fluid adaptation is seen as a sign of great power and strength, in addition to a rich and luxurious life. Do these orchid meanings sound familiar? Fertility is another well-recognized symbol linked to orchids in Japanese culture. Families and businesses often display orchids in their homes and offices to promote the good fortune that fertility brings.
From dendrobium and phalaenopsis to cymbidium, orchids can be the perfect versatile bloom for many occasions. As a symbol of love, fertility, charm, thoughtfulness, beauty, and refinement, these fresh flowers are loved and admired by so many. Visit Wildflower to find magnificent blooms, including the best orchids.