Meaning of Black Orchids

Overview

Orchids are considered a challenging flower to grow, yet not difficult to raise. Their care and tending can be a very complex subject, in part because of the sheer number of varieties. Many are protected in the wild, considered threatened or endangered, but varieties available to the home gardener are plentiful. According to Telaflora, Butterfly (Phalaenopsis) orchids are most currently chosen for arrangements due to their simple elegance.

Origin

Orchids derive their name from the Greek word for testicle because of features seen on the tuber or rhizome of some species of the plant. Perhaps this is the source of their use as symbols of manliness. The features of the flowers themselves are considered sexual, leading them to become symbols of virility and fertility. Orchids are universal symbols of love and luxury and more specifically represent perfection and beauty.

Identification

The black orchid was sought with fervor, especially during the 19th century, when collecting orchids became all the rage. No truly black version of the flower was ever found, but many are considered dark enough to qualify for being called black. When looking for a nearly black orchid, try Coelogyne pandurata, Dendrobium fuliginosum or Liparis nervosa, called a black orchid in Japanese. Shades of deep brown (Grammangis stapelliflora) or maroon (Cymbidium canaliculatun var Sparkesii or Trichoglottis brachiata) colored flowers are the ones typically called black.

History

Traditionally in the East, orchids represented meditation, purity and simplicity. They also symbolized happiness and ecstasy. Many societies believed that to consume the orchid would impart its power. The Aztecs drank the flower mixed with vanilla. The Chinese used orchids to treat breathing ailments. Some cultures even believed they could influence the sex of their child by eating different sized portions of the flower's tuber.

Considerations

The color black represents death to many. In America, especially, the color has evil connotations, but it also represents authority and implies submission. Black has long stood for power and authority; symbolized an elite class. In other cultures, black can signify high achievement, honor, or imply secrecy. In many countries, black is the color of fertility. In religion, it is the color worn by strict adherents, who are showing their humilityand plainness. In fashion, black is formal. Historically, its use in clothing was restricted to certain classes.

Significance

The meanings of the color black and the orchid marry perfectly in the black orchid to represent a message of absolute authority and power, making them a perfect gift for a new boss--a leader. Their manly connotation renders them appropriate to gift to a male or female. Black orchids would also make a good choice of gift for a religious figure, symbolizing many positive aspects of the person's service. They could be used to recognize a graduate, as a bestowment of honor. Equally, the flowers would make an excellent way to signify to a mate your wishes for fertility and your belief in his or her sexual power.

Keywords: black orchid, meaning of flowers, the color black

About this Author

Alice Moon is a freelance writer with more than 10 years of experience. She was chosen as a Smithsonian Institute intern, working for the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and has traveled throughout Asia. Moon holds a Bachelor of Science in political science from Ball State University.