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The Meaning of a Black Orchid

Ludisia discolor (black jewel orchid) opening flowers and foliag image by Tamara Kulikova from

Black orchids are popular in witchcraft stories, fiction, spooky legends and myths, as well as pop-culture comics characters. They are believed to be mysterious flowers, with magical powers. In reality, however, the black orchid is just another species of the exotic orchid family, considered a challenge to grow, but easy to raise and propagate. Black orchid flower arrangements are commonly used in corporate events or Gothic-themed parties, because of their mysterious and elegant color.


The black orchid has many symbolisms. Many consider black as the color of death, and attribute evil connotations to it. However, the black orchid, with its imposing color and mysterious beauty, also signifies great power and absolute authority, and commands submission. It has long been a symbol of the elite class, as in fashion history, the use of the color was restricted to certain classes because of its formality.


According to, black orchid has two main types: terrestrial (grows on the ground) and epiphytes (grows on trees). There are many versions of the orchid considered dark enough or nearly black, such as: Dendrobium fuliginosa (the "Black Pam), Coelogyne pandurata, Miltonioides leucomelas, Dracula vampira, Dracula roezlii, Oncidium henckenii, and a few hybrids like Paphiopedilum Maudiae Prieta Paphiopedilum Makuli (“Candor Blackheart”), Paphiopedilum Black Velvet (“Candor Neat”) and Paphiopedilum Maudiae (“Florafest’s Queen").

Still, the truly pure deep black orchid continues to be the Liparis nervosa, called "kokuran" (which literally means black orchid) in Japanese.


The black orchid is common in Asia, as well as Central and South America. The orchid's name is derived from the Greek word “orchis,” meaning "testicle," because of the shape of its bulbous roots, making the black orchid a symbol of virility. Early Greeks believed they could control their baby's gender by consuming orchid roots. If they want to have a son, the father should eat large, new orchid tubers; if they want a daughter, it's the mother's turn to eat small tubers. Orchid collection became popular and more extensive during the 19th century.

Care & Propagation

Black orchids easily adapt to any environment, but grow best in a warm temperature (not too hot or too cold) or partial sun exposure. It blooms from July to September and can reach up to 12 inches in height. It is propagated through six methods: seeds, meristem or tissue culture, division, areal cuttings, keiki or by dyeing white orchids using black dye.

Significant Uses

The black orchid, as a symbol of absolute authority and achievement, is the perfect gift for someone who has recently assumed a high position, graduated, attained a significant goal or achievement, or a leader. Gift it to your new boss, a graduate, or your parish priest. It is an appropriate gift for both males and females. The black orchid's virility connotations also make it an excellent gift for your mate to communicate your fertility wishes as well as your confidence in his sexual power.

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