The gladiolus flower – sometimes referred to as the sword lily due to its distinctive sword-shaped leaves – is a genus of the iridaceae family. This genus contains around 250 species which are mostly native to South Africa; however, their distribution also ranges in regions of the Mediterranean and Asia. These perennial flowers are made up of branchless stems that can produce between 1 to 9 sharp, narrow leaves. The petals and sepals are nearly identical in appearance, and meet at the base of a tube-shaped structure with a single large, arching tepal, and three smaller petals that surround three stamens. These flowers can most commonly be seen in colors of either creamy or bright white, light red, purple or orange.
The gladiolus flower has a special spot in legends, ceremonies, and even body art. The name of this flower can be loosely translated into the Latin word for sword. This translation makes its way into the old Roman story of two dear friends who were forced to battle each other. Instead of doing so, though, the two pierced the ground with their swords and embraced. The crowd was displeased with this move, and the friends were executed. When their blood seeped into the earth that was pierced by the swords, two bright gladioli sprung from the ground. In China, the gladiolus flower is frequently used in funeral ceremonies. These flowers are thought to help the deceased find their way into heaven. Both men and woman like to use these flowers in body art. This is due to their beautiful appearance, and the depth of their symbolism. Its symbolism is unisex in that it embodies features of character that can be appreciated in either gender, such as inner strength, loyalty and honor.
The gladiolus flower is associated with many other symbols as well. For instance, they are said to indicate calm, integrity and infatuation. As gifts, these flowers are given to represent remembrance, and are sometimes presented to recipients who have lost a dear friend or family member. On a lighter side, they are also meant to express the idea of someone’s heart being “pierced” with love, and are frequently traded between new and old lovers alike. Some even prefer to give these blossoms on romantic occasions, anniversaries and Valentine’s Day in place of the more classic flowers.