Discover the Deep Meanings of the Gladiolus Flower

The Gladiolus flower is a perennial flowering plant known for its impressive tall spikes of blooms. No wonder it’s a florist favorite – its vivid and cheerful pink, orange, yellow, purple, and white hues add instant charm to any bouquet. In this guide, I’ll take you through everything you need to know about gladiolus flower meaning and symbolism, their history, origins, and cultural significance.


Gladiolus Flower Symbolism – Key Takeaways

Gladiolus flowers symbolize remembrance and infatuation. They are often displayed to remember loved ones who have passed or to commemorate special occasions or anniversaries. In the language of flowers, a gladiolus flower also holds the symbolic meaning of honor, faithfulness, persistence, calmness, integrity, and strength of character. 


Gladiolus flowers came from the Latin name gladius, which means “little sword.” It refers to the sword-like shape and appearance of the plant’s leaves and flower spikes. 

Also, because of its look, the gladiolus flowers are known as sword lilies or corn lilies

On top of that, the name xiphium also refers to a gladioli flower. It comes from the Greek word xiphios, which means “sword.” 

Commercially, gladiolus flowers are called glads.

The Meaning and Symbolism of Gladioli

Gladiolus flower symbolism

Gladiolus flowers are the official birth flower for August. Also, they are the 40th Anniversary flower

These flowers are a known symbol of remembrance and infatuation. In the language of flowers, a gladiolus flower also means honor, faithfulness, persistence, calmness, integrity, and strength of character

Because of its sword-shaped foliage and spikes of alluring flowers, they say that gifting a gladiolus flower arrangement is like saying that the giver’s heart is  “pierced with love and passion.”

Gladiolus Flower Color Meanings

Following the general meaning of the gladiolus flower, this striking bloom further presents several more meanings and symbolism depending on its color. 

Red Gladiolus Flowers

Red Gladiolus Flower

Out of many available colors of a gladioli flower, a red gladiolus flower is perhaps the most appropriate gift for romantic occasions such as Valentine’s Day or anniversaries. A red gladioli flower symbolizes passion, deep love, and romance. 

Yellow Gladiolus Flowers

Yellow Gladiolus flower meaning and symbolism

Yellow color, in general, unquestionably brings a ray of sunshine and cheerfulness in any room, and the same applies to a yellow gladiolus flower. Like other yellow blooms, gladiolus in yellow hues symbolizes happiness, positivity, joy, warmth, and friendship. 

For that reason, a yellow gladiolus flower is an ideal gift for family, friends, and coworkers. Give it for various occasions and celebrations, brightening your friend’s day, or expressing support and appreciation. 

Purple Gladiolus Flowers

Purple Gladiolus flower meaning and symbolism

Two words are often associated with a purple gladiolus flower – grace and charm. Purple flowers also symbolize mystery. You can give your partner, family member, friend, or coworker a purple gladiolus flower to express admiration or appreciation. 

White Gladiolus Flowers

White Gladiolus Flower

Purity, innocence, and elegance are often the general meanings of white flowers; white gladiolus is no exception. Because of the association with these meanings, white gladiolus flowers are a typical sight at weddings and funerals, but they are also excellent in bouquets as gifts for special occasions. 

Pink Gladiolus Flowers

Pink Gladiolus Flowers

A pink gladiolus flower symbolizes love, romance, femininity, and gentleness. It also represents a mother’s love, which makes it a fitting gift for moms. Because of their symbolism, gladiolus flowers in pink are a great way to tell someone you love and respect her. 

Gladiolus Flower Meaning in Ancient Times

In Ancient Rome, the name “gladiolus” derives from the Latin word “gladius,” which means sword. Gladiators fought to the death in arenas, and their swords were called “gladii.” Some believe that the gladiolus flower was named due to its sword-shaped leaves. Furthermore, some accounts suggest that the victor of gladiator battles might have been showered with gladiolus flowers, symbolizing victory.

While often associated with the Mediterranean due to its Latin name, the gladiolus is native to sub-Saharan Africa. The flower has a long history in African folklore and tradition. For instance, the Xhosa people of South Africa used the gladiolus plant for some medicinal properties.

Myths and Folklore About Gladiolus Flowers 

Myths About Gladiolus Flowers

Greek mythology tells an exciting story about glads. 

Demeter, the Greek goddess of harvest and agriculture, felt deep affection for a sacred grove near Thessaly. One villager nearby, who did not believe in gods, took firewood from the holy forest despite being stopped by the worshippers of Ceres. His name was Erisichthon. 

One time, Erisichton cut off the man’s head, who tried stopping him from getting another firewood from the sacred grove. Furios of Erisichton’s actions, Ceres punished the greedy man with famine. Sword-like plants called gladiolus emerged from the blood. 

Erisichton sold his daughter when he had no other way to fulfill his appetite, but she escaped to the forest. Consequently, the Greek goddess turned the daughter into a gladiolus flower to keep guard of the man that her father killed. 

Gladiolus Flowers in Art & Literature

The striking appearance of the gladiolus flower has made it a popular subject in art and literature. Here are a few famous references:

The famous Impressionist painter Claude Monet painted gladioli in some of his works. His garden at Giverny had many flowers, and gladioli were among those he captured on canvas.

Van Gogh painted “Vase with Red Gladioli” in 1886. The painting showcases a vase of vibrant red gladioli against a blue-green background.

D.H. Lawrence wrote a poem titled “Gladioli,” where he compares the flowering of gladioli to the flourishing of love in a relationship.

The lead singer of The Smiths, Morrissey, has often been associated with gladioli. He used to wave bunches of these striking flowers during performances in the 1980s.

Gladiolus Flower Meaning – Wrapping Up

The gladiolus flower, with its sword-shaped leaves and vibrant colors, has captured the imagination of cultures for centuries. Its name, rooted in the Latin “gladius,” meaning “sword,” is a testament to its symbolism of strength, integrity, and moral fortitude. Furthermore, it symbolizes love, infatuation, and remembrance, with each color variant adding nuanced meanings. The flower’s historical roots span from the African plains to the Roman arenas, and its representation in art and literature has further solidified its cultural significance. Whether displayed in a garden, painted on a canvas, or presented in a bouquet, the gladiolus remains a cherished emblem of both physical and moral strength.

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