Richard Hale is a tattoo enthusiast who studies and researches tattoo symbolism, meanings, and history.
Orchid tattoos are very popular with women and the occasional man. For those who wear it as body art, the orchid is very significant and highly symbolic. Because orchids come in many shapes, colors, and sizes, the tattoo designs are very versatile and can be inked almost anywhere on the body.
Read on to learn more about the symbolism surrounding this gorgeous flower and to browse a gallery of several different orchid tattoo designs. Hopefully, you'll be able to find ideas and inspiration for your next tattoo
What Is an Orchid?
Orchids are one of the largest families of flowers on earth, with almost 27,000 species to its name. This widespread flower can be found almost anywhere on earth, from the tropics to the Arctic Circle. As a result, these beautiful flowers hold a special significance to many different cultures around the world and many East Asian cultures in particular.
Of the nearly 28,000 species of orchids, Cymbidium, Dendrobium, and Vanilla orchids are the most popular. Though it grows in the wild, it is nonetheless a very pricy flower if you want it in your own home. And, despite the price tag, the orchid is one of the most popular household plants next to the peace lily.
Orchid Symbolism and Cultural Significance
The orchid is typically associated with human sexuality, partly because of the flower’s resemblance to male and female sexual anatomy. The ancient Greek word “orxhis” translates today to “testicle.” A group of orchids was referred not as a bouquet, but as a “satyrion,” and which represents the female anatomy, reproduction, and fertility. The Greeks also referred to the orchid as the “Flower of Magnificence.”
For thousands of years, different cultures have used the orchid for a variety of purposes. In places such as China, Africa, Germany, and Egypt, the orchid was considered to be a love potion and aphrodisiac. Many East Asian cultures esteemed the orchid as a symbol of something precious and rare. It is believed that the Aztecs drunk vanilla orchid with chocolate to give them strength and power.
Some cultures held that the orchid could determine the sex of their children. It was believed that if the father ate the flower, it would guarantee a male child, while if a woman ate the flower, it would guarantee a female child. This is one of many examples of the flower’s sexual symbolism and its close associations with fertility.
The orchid takes on any number of meanings depending on the particular place and time. Below are some of the many meanings that have been associated with the flower.
Orchid Tattoos for Men and Women
For women, the orchid most commonly represents the idea of a "rare and delicate beauty." In Victorian England, men frequently gave orchids as gifts to women they were pursuing romantically. Many women believe the orchid tattoo is a great way to represent their beauty and femininity; they look great on any woman, especially with a tan or dark complexion.
Men usually lean toward the meaning of "strength" and "charm" when discussing theirs. Some men do choose to get the vibrant colors, but most men will opt for plain black or a bare outline.
Where to Get an Orchid Tattoo on Your Body
Since there are so many species, you can get it in a variety of different colors, such as red, pink, blue, orange, and yellow to name a few. Tattoo artists can put their own twist on it and create some very unique designs. Make sure you research all possible designs and remember to take your time. It would be a good idea to research a few different tattoo artist in your area and read reviews on them when available.
Orchid tattoo designs are usually larger then most designs, especially if you include the entire plant. Some people prefer to get orchid blooms rather than the entire plant. So, where you get the orchid tattooed depends on how much of the flower you want to show.
Orchid Tattoo Designs and Inspiration
Corey on April 11, 2019:
Men get this tattoo because it is the color/ribbon/symbol for testicular cancer. Survivors like myself get these tattoos as a symbol of the fight. The surgery to remove a tumor of the testes is called an Orchiectomy because the shape of the flower petals resembles that of a testicle.
Jen on March 22, 2016:
My best friend from childhood recently passed away by the hands of her (also deceased) husband. With that being said, Orchids were her favorite flower and are now becoming one of mine. My husband bought me a purple one in Leigh's memory and every time I look at it I try to figure a way I can take such an amazing species and create an amazing piece of art using the Orchid as the lettering writing Leigh's name on my calf. Any ideas and suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time and hope this post makes sense and didn't sound silly. TIA
Aloha on April 17, 2015:
Very helpful: )
Sydney on October 02, 2014:
Wow so informative! I had no idea there was so much meaning behind the orchid. I'm getting my first tattoo this weekend and am including an orchid into a rose tattoo. It will have a black rose because of the people I have lost. Thank you for including so much meaning in this article!
Richard Ricky Hale (author) from West Virginia on February 09, 2012:
*Gypsy, thanks so much for another visit my dear friend. Have a good one.
*Frank, always great to see you pal. I would agree. The men usually add no color and they are part of another tattoo in most cases.
*Donna, thank you so much for sharing my articles. It always helps of course, but it is a kind thing to do, so thanks.
*Writer20, I appreciate your time and comment dear. I always wanted to have them, but never did.
*AE, glad to see you Ruby. Thanks for coming by and have a great day.
Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on February 07, 2012:
I love orchids. These are beautiful...
Joyce Haragsim from Southern Nevada on February 07, 2012:
I used to grow orchids when I lived in a beach town and love them.
If I was to get a tattoo an orchid it would be, Joyce.
Donna Cosmato from USA on February 07, 2012:
I had no idea there were so many varieties of orchids, but I love these flowers! Your articles are always so informative and visual that they are a delight to the senses. Pinned and shared:)
Frank Atanacio from Shelton on February 07, 2012:
designed for both sexes? the lyricwriter I love the styles but they seem too soft for males yeah? No?
Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on February 07, 2012:
Now orchids are flowers I really like!