Calla lily and its meaning

White calla lily

White calla lily

Calla lily is also known as pig lily, trumpet lily and arum lily. With all those names you would be surprised that calla lilies are not really lilies. Swedish botanist made a mistake when naming the species in 1700s. The error was later corrected but the name stuck. This gorgeous flower is native to Southern Africa and can grow for a long time even after it has been cut and put into a vase.

Rich ivory color and lush green leaves only contribute to their popularity. Because calla lilies are so elegant they have been sought after as an essential part of a wedding bouquet for many decades. Anyone who has ever seen a calla lily will not be surprised that in Greek the name means “magnificent beauty”. The most popular variety is of course white but there are also a few smaller varieties. These come in different colors, such as pink, orange, yellow, purple and green..

Calla lilies medicinal use

The only part of a calla lily that is edible raw is the rhizome. Everything else is highly poisonous and should never be ingested. If you have small children or pets you have make sure that calla lilies are out of their reach. Cats especially are prone to playing with calla lilies and eating them which can be fatal for them.

If a grownup would swallow any part of a calla lily, except the rhizome, they would experience burning mouth, tongue and lips. Ingestion would also cause vomiting and high fever. But when used correctly, calla lilies have medicinal properties. Traditional medicine in South Africa, where calla lilies are indigenous, has found many good uses. Boiling different parts of a calla lily is great for treating burns, scalds and wounds.

What meanings does a calla lily have?

As far as the ancient Romans were concerned, calla lilies symbolized lust and sexuality. Most likely this was because of the phallic shape of the flower and the yellow stem in its centre. Because they used calla lilies bouquets in the winter solstice ceremony, they grew them indoors so they would bloom in time.

Pink calla lily

Pink calla lily

However, their meaning changed in times of early Christians. It was once believed that when Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden, Eve was spilling tears of sorrow. From each tear that fell on the ground a calla lily sprung. Calla lilies were also very popular in Christian art. They were often depicted with Virgin Mary and being associated with holiness and purity.

Even though white calla lily bouquets are also present in funerals to symbolize sympathy and purification of the soul, they are more common in wedding ceremonies. As most of white flowers they represent purity, honesty and innocence and are therefore ideal for wedding bouquets. Pink calla lilies are associated with admiration and appreciation. Orange calla lilies symbolize happiness and joy. Yellow calla lilies represent trust and respect. Purple calla lilies are associated with charm, royalty and grace. Green calla lilies symbolize with harmony with nature and good fortune. All calla lilies represent rebirth, resurrection, beauty and innocence.

These days a bouquet of calla lilies is also the traditional gift for a sixth wedding anniversary.