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Calla Lily Flower Meaning, Spiritual Symbolism, Color Meaning & More

The Calla Lily, with its exquisite form and rich symbolism, has long been a source of fascination and intrigue for flower enthusiasts and those seeking to convey heartfelt messages through nature's beauty.

In this article, we embark on a journey to unravel the profound and diverse meanings attributed to the Calla Lily.

From purity and rebirth to love and devotion, we explore the layers of significance that make this elegant flower a timeless choice for bouquets and arrangements.

Join us as we delve into the captivating world of Calla Lily flower meanings, where each petal holds a story waiting to be told.

Calla Lily Flower

Key Takeaways

  • Symbolic Meanings Calla lilies symbolize new life, fertility, and genderlessness. They are associated with untimely death, phallic imagery, and have diverse meanings in different cultures.
  • Etymology The name 'Calla' comes from the Greek word 'kallos,' meaning beauty. The plant is not a true lily and was initially cataloged incorrectly by the Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus.
  • Color Symbolism Different colors of Calla lilies carry various meanings, such as white for new life and everlasting love, yellow for friendship and gratitude and red for love and passion.
  • Cultural Significance Calla lilies are associated with weddings, funerals, and religious celebrations. They hold cultural significance in various traditions.
  • Tattoo Symbolism Calla Lily tattoos symbolize remembrance, overcoming difficulties, Christian faith, gender identity, and can be appreciated for their aesthetic beauty.
  • Artistic and Literary Presence The Calla Lily has been a muse in art and literature, representing themes of beauty, sensuality, transcendence, and overcoming limitations.
  • Dream Symbolism Dreaming of Calla Lilies is often associated with purity, renewal, and transformation, reflecting a desire for personal growth and a fresh start.
  • Symbolic Essence of a Calla Lily Flower Tattoo Calla Lily tattoos carry symbolic interpretations related to remembrance, resilience, Christian faith, gender identity, and can be appreciated as aesthetic choices.
  • Cultural Significance in Different Events Calla lilies are used in weddings, funerals, religious celebrations, and are associated with the 6th wedding anniversary. They are admired for their beauty and symbolism.
  • Symbolic Meanings of Calla Lily Dreams Dreams of Calla Lilies are often interpreted as a desire for purity, renewal, and personal transformation, reflecting an inner longing for a virtuous path.
  • Artistic Reference in Art and Literature Calla Lilies have been prominent in art, particularly in the works of Georgia O'Keeffe, symbolizing beauty and sensuality. In literature, they represent themes of transcendence and overcoming limitations.

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Unlocking the Enigmatic Symbolism of Calla Lily Flowers

Here is a shortlist of various meanings the calla lily holds. It is a unique and wonderful plant that is steeped in symbolism across many countries, sometimes for quite opposing meanings!

New Life

  • Calla lilies symbolize new life as they can be reborn after wilting when left in darkness and then reintroduced to light and water.

Fertility And Genderlessness

  • Represent fertility and genderlessness due to their ability to reproduce asexually.
  • Signify a balance between masculine and feminine energies.

Untimely Death

  • Associated with death, often used at the funerals of young individuals.
  • This connects to their symbolism of new life and rebirth, making them suitable for grieving or commemorating a death anniversary.

Phallic Imagery

  • In Roman culture, calla lilies were seen as symbols of masculinity and phallic power due to their prominent central stem.

Unraveling the Etymological Significance of the Calla Lily Flower

Calla comes from the Greek word for beauty which is ‘kallos’. As the flower shares a resemblance with lilies, the name has stuck, even though they are not of the same flower species at all.

Many also know it as a pig lily, or as an arum lily as well.

The Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus made a mistake when cataloging the flower for the first time in the mid-1700s, marking it down as a lily variant.

A German botanist called Karl Koch later rectified this error. He also created a new genus for it to go into, the Zantedeschia.

However, by this point, the name calla lily had stuck and it remains to this day the most used way of referring to this plant.

The Rich Symbolism of Calla Lily Flowers

According to Christianity, the calla lily is a symbol of the Virgin Mary. It is white, pure, and elegant in its simplicity.

As it has a long-staying power even after cut, the calla lily bloom is a symbol of endurance and thus a symbol of Jesus.

According to Christian beliefs, the calla lily's ability to regrow after laying dormant symbolized His death and resurrection.

According to Greek myth, when Zeus made love to an earth-bound woman, she gave birth to Hercules, who was half-god, half-mortal.

Zeus wanted him to have god-like powers so he drugged his goddess wife Hera.

Whilst his wife Hera was sleeping, he snuck the baby Hercules in to suckle at Hera’s teat to gain immortal powers.

Hera awoke and in rage, threw Hercules away from her.

As she threw him, drops of her divine breast milk fell from the heavens and landed on Earth.

From these magical droplets, calla lilies formed, and thus they are symbols of the divine.

For the Romans, the calla lily was a representation of masculinity and its dominant stem was a powerful phallic symbol.

Rich Symbolism of Calla Lily Flowers

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Decoding the Symbolism of Calla Lily Flower Colors

Whilst people most well knew calla lilies in its pure white form, it grows in many different colors, some of which are very unique and striking.

It is interesting to note what these different colors represent, especially if you intend to plant them yourself or give them as a gift.

  • White Calla Lily: Represents new life, everlasting love, and death, making it suitable for both weddings and funerals. Symbolizes purity, virginity, and rebirth.
  • Yellow Calla Lily: Symbolizes friendship, gratitude, and success, making it a great gift for celebrating life events like a new job or graduation.
  • Pink Calla Lilies: Symbolize devotion, appreciation, and romance. Perfect for wedding bouquets alongside white calla lilies or white roses.
  • Purple Calla Lily: Represents royalty, status, achievement, and admiration. Known for their striking appearance.
  • Black Calla Lily: Symbolizes elegance and longing, with a deep and mysterious allure.
  • Red Calla Lilies: Universally symbolize love, passion, and courage, making them a unique and strong expression of devotion.

Meaningful Botanical Characteristics Of The Calla Lily Flower

    • Toxic if ingested- it is recommended not to give these flowers to those who have pets or small children as they have a substance in them that can be harmful if ingested.
    • Self reproduces- they are grown from rhizomes which means they can reproduce without being pollinated by insects or the weather.
    • Not a lily or a calla flower- they are a different species altogether.
    • Has no petals- the stem is wrapped in one singular special type of leaf.
    • Native to South Africa and Malawi- these flowers grow in hot and humid temperatures.
    • Fuss-free- these flowers can survive without too much fuss as long as there is a reliable source of water and heat. Common in bridal bouquets and at funerals.

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Calla Lilies in Bloom: Their Presence on Special Occasions

The calla lily has strong associations with Jesus and the Virgin Mary and is a perfect gift to give on religious occasions such as Good Friday, Easter, or Palm Sunday, as well as May Day and other religious celebrations or days of remembrance.

Calla Lilies In Bloom

They are also a potent reminder of deep astounding beauty and new life and resurrection, so they are a good choice for funerals and days of remembrance, such as death anniversaries.

Calla lilies are a universally beautiful flower. People often used it as a minimal, yet formal-looking wedding bouquet, and just a few simple blooms can have a very striking impact.

Calla lilies are also a great Mother’s day gift or a great gift for any birthday celebration.

As they are poisonous if ingested, be sure that whoever you are sending them to does not have small children or pets around!

The Cultural Significance of Calla Lily Flowers

Event Significance
Weddings Symbolize purity and new beginnings
Funerals Represent eternal love and rebirth
Religious Celebrations Associated with religious symbolism
6th Wedding Anniversary The traditional gift for celebrating the occasion
Artistic Representation Used by artists to symbolize beauty and elegance

They are a representation of new life, death, and rebirth.

You can often find them at funeral events, wedding celebrations, and in many garden displays across the globe.

The calla lily is significantly a representation of masculine and feminine energies and as a sexual-looking flower, popularized by the stunning work of artist Georgia O’Keeffe.

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Discovering Fascinating Calla Lily Flower Facts

Fact Description
Jurassic Origins Traces back to the Jurassic period
Christian Symbolism The ability to rebirth is associated with Christ's death
Poisonous Nature Contains calcium oxalates, harmful if ingested
Medicinal Use Boiled as a salve for wounds and traditional medicine
Self-Reproduction Symbol of fertility and plenty
Versatile Survival Thrives in various environments with humidity


The calla lily is an incredibly interesting flower that looks quite baffling at first glance compared to traditional many-petalled flowers that we may be more used to seeing in our everyday lives. Here are some interesting flower facts about these unique looking flowers:

They Are Not Lilies

In fact, they are also not even calla flowers. The calla lily is part of the Araceae family of plants.


They Have Been Around Forever

They have been around forever-


If a calla lily dies, it can be reborn again

this is why there is so much representation of the calla lily in Christian symbolism.



the calla lily contains a substance called calcium oxalates, these can cause burning, swelling, nausea, and even heart palpitations if ingested! It is highly recommended to not keep these flowers around pets or children just in case of ingestion.


No petals 

the beautiful singular petal around the stem of a calla lily is not a petal at all! It is a leaf called a spath or flower bract that surrounds the flower spike or spadix in the center.


Boiled For Traditional Medicinal Use

when boiled down with hot water or other liquid, the calla lily loses its calcium oxalates (the irritating poisonous bits) and this leftover boiled plant was used as a salve to treat wounds or as a way to cure headaches, though this has since not been backed by modern medicine.


Reproduce On Their own

calla lilies do not require cross-pollination like most plants! They can reproduce on their own, which makes them a symbol of fertility and plenty.


Can Survive Many Tough Terrains

you’d assume by its delicate appearance that the calla lily wouldn’t be hardy, but in fact, it can survive in almost any environment that has a decent level of humidity.

Versatile Applications Of Calla Lily Flowers

Application Description
Funeral Flowers Symbolize everlasting love and grief
Wedding Bouquets Represent purity, devotion, and marital bliss
Air Purifier Absorb carbon dioxide and purifies indoor air
Medicinal Use Traditional wound dressing when boiled and soaked
As Tattoos Symbol of remembrance, balance, and purity

Cultures Used Calla Lilies For Many Different Reasons

As funeral flowers- one of the most memorable and reused meanings throughout the centuries has been the use of calla lilies as funeral flowers. Many often gives them to those who are grieving or placed on top of burial grounds and tombs to symbolize everlasting love.

As wedding flowers- people often use it in wedding bouquets due to their unique shape and elegant appearance. It may seem counterintuitive to be both a symbol of wedding joy and death but they are a symbol of everlasting love, which ties these two meanings together.

Calla Lily Flowers

Calla lilies are extremely toxic and ingestion is fatal.

As a salve for wounds- in South Africa, they used underground bulb and stem of the calla lily as a salve to dress wounds when soaked in milk.

Air purifier- the calla lily is a natural air purifier in your home, it absorbs carbon dioxide and produces oxygen. They also absorb airborne pollutants in your home.

Headaches- people traditionally used calla lilies as a headache cure when boiled with the water and steeped as a tea to ingest. They do not recommend this nowadays however. Such is because the calla lily is poisonous and touching certain parts of it can give a nasty irritation.

The Symbolic Essence Of A Calla Lily Flower Tattoo

Tattoo Symbolism Interpretation
Remembrance Honoring loved ones with a symbol of beauty
Overcoming Difficulties Representing resilience and rebirth
Christian Faith Symbolizing biblical stories and purity
Gender Identity Balancing masculine and feminine energies
Artistic Appreciation Aesthetic choice without specific meaning

Calla Lilies are often tattooed as a symbol of remembrance. This can be for any close loved one, as they are both beautiful but also not overly effeminate.

They are also a symbol of overcoming difficulties or overwhelming odds. They easily regrow when they wither and die, even though their lifespan is short.

For those who have strong Christian faith, the calla lily tattoo is a symbol of this. It often represent biblical stories, such as the death and rebirth of Christ, and as a symbol of purity to represent the Virgin Mary.

Because the calla lily is able to rebirth many shoots, they are symbol of overcoming one’s past and putting a dark secret or past behind them for good.

The calla lily is also a flower that symbolizes the balance and beauty of both the masculine and the feminine. It can be a tattoo that symbolizes androgyny or a balance of gender identity.

Many use the beautiful trumpet appearance of the flowers in bouquets as well and are naturally just stunning flowers. So some people may simply get them as tattoos without any particular meaning attached to them.

Time-Honored Traditions Linked To The Calla Lily

The Calla Lily, known for its elegance and distinctive trumpet-shaped blooms, is associated with several traditions across various cultures.

In Western traditions, the Calla Lily is a symbol of beauty and sophistication often used in wedding bouquets and floral arrangements, representing purity and marital bliss. It is customary to incorporate Calla Lilies in bridal ceremonies, as they signify the devotion and transformation that marriage brings.

In the Christian tradition, these lilies are linked to the Resurrection and are often seen during Easter celebrations as a symbol of purity and new beginnings.

In Greek culture, the Calla Lily holds a different meaning, representing magnificent beauty. Moreover, it's also associated with the celebration of the 6th wedding anniversary making it a common gift choice.

These diverse traditions highlight the Calla Lily's versatility in conveying a range of symbolic meanings in different contexts.

Diving Into The Symbolic Meanings Of Calla Lily Dreams

Dream Symbolism Interpretation
Purity and Renewal Desire for personal growth and a fresh start
Inner Cleansing Longing for a more virtuous and refined path
Transformation Reflection of a desire for renewal and change

In the realm of dreams and symbolism, the Calla Lily carries its own significance. Dreaming of Calla Lilies can often be interpreted as a symbol of purity, renewal, and transformation.

These elegant flowers are believed to represent the emergence of something new and beautiful in one's life. Such dreams might indicate a desire for personal growth, a fresh start, or the need to cleanse oneself of past troubles.

The purity associated with Calla Lilies in dreams can be a reflection of the dreamer's subconscious longing for a more virtuous and refined path in life.

Just as the Calla Lily's pristine white petals suggest purity and rebirth in the waking world, in dreams, they may point to an inner desire for a clean slate and a chance to start a new.

Calla Lily: A Muse In Art And Literature

Artistic Reference Symbolic Themes
Georgia O'Keeffe Beauty of nature, sensuality
Tennessee Williams Transcendence, overcoming limitations

The Calla Lily has held a significant presence in both art and literature where it symbolizes various themes and emotions. In art, its unique and elegant form has made it a subject of fascination for artists, particularly during the Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements.

The sensuous and sculptural quality of the Calla Lily's blossom inspired numerous artists, such as Georgia O'Keeffe, to capture its essence in their works. O'Keeffe's paintings of enlarged Calla Lilies have become iconic representations of the flower's form and the beauty of nature.

In literature, the Calla Lily often serves as a symbol of purity, rebirth, and transcendence. It is frequently used to convey themes of transformation and renewal.

For instance, Tennessee Williams incorporated Calla Lilies into his renowned play "The Glass Menagerie," where they represent the character Laura's sensitivity and her desire to escape the confines of her life.

The Calla Lily's pristine white petals are likened to the idea of transcending limitations and emerging into a more refined state.

Final Thoughts

The calla lily is a beautiful and unique flower that is not truly a lily, or a calla flower. It is a symbol of new life, death, and resurrection and has strong symbolic links to Christianity in the modern day.

They are a flower that represents the innocence and purity of life, and to appreciate the gifts around you.

The calla lily is poisonous and not pet-friendly, so bear this in mind if you are bringing it into your home. They have a short but beautiful lifespan and represent enjoying every moment of fleeting life. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the spiritual significance of the Calla Lily?

The Calla Lily is often associated with purity and the divine. Its pristine white petals symbolize spiritual awakening and the quest for higher consciousness.

Is the Calla Lily linked to any specific religious symbolism?

While the Calla Lily is not tied to a particular religion, it is often used in religious ceremonies and weddings to represent purity, faith, and the divine.

What does the Calla Lily symbolize in Christianity?

In Christianity, the Calla Lily is seen as a symbol of the resurrection and rebirth. Its pure white color is associated with the purity of the Virgin Mary.

Does the Calla Lily have a connection to funerals and mourning?

Yes, the Calla Lily is sometimes used at funerals and memorial services as a symbol of sympathy and purification, offering comfort to the grieving.

What does it mean to receive a Calla Lily as a gift? 

Receiving a Calla Lily can symbolize admiration, appreciation, or a desire for someone's purity and goodness. It's often given to convey a sense of grace and elegance.

Can the Calla Lily be associated with personal transformation?

Yes, the Calla Lily is often used to symbolize personal growth and transformation, representing the journey from a lower state to a higher, more refined one.

Are Calla Lilies commonly used in weddings?

Yes, Calla Lilies are a popular choice for weddings. They symbolize marital bliss, purity, and devotion, making them a meaningful addition to bridal bouquets and decorations.

Are Calla Lilies linked to artistic and creative endeavors?

Indeed, Calla Lilies have inspired many artists and writers due to their elegant form and symbolism. They are often featured in art and literature to convey themes of beauty and transformation.

What are the different colors of Calla Lilies and their symbolic meanings?

White Calla Lilies symbolize purity and innocence, while other colors like red, pink, and purple represent passion, admiration, and appreciation, respectively.

Can Calla Lilies be planted in a garden with a spiritual purpose?

Yes, some people plant Calla Lilies in their gardens to create a serene and spiritual atmosphere. The white Calla Lilies, in particular, can represent a connection to higher realms and a peaceful sanctuary.

Calla Lily Flower Meaning, Spiritual Symbolism, Color Meaning & More