Does the Calla Lily Have a Symbolic Meaning?

Updated February 21, 2017

The calla lily is a beautiful and majestic flower that gardeners love to grow and wedding planners love to use. It is a trumpet-shaped flower with large leaves, making it predominant in a bouquet. The calla lily is popular with painters because of its appealing and elegant shape. Home designers love its simplicity. A single calla lily placed in a long stem vase is a favourite of home decor.


Calla lilies are grown from rhizomes. Once planted, the rhizomes will multiply producing the trumpet-shaped flower that gardeners love. The calla lily is not really a lily or a calla. It is part of the zantedeschia genus and is native to Southern Africa. It is a hardy flower that grows easily in most soils as long as the climate is humid. The calla lily is also an excellent plant for the home.


Like most flowers, the calla lily has a symbolic meaning. It is, ironically, associated with both weddings and funerals. The calla lily is symbolic of marriage and purity because of its white colour and its trumpet-like shape, similar to a woman's shape. It is also the symbol of rebirth and resurrection; therefore, it is widely used in funeral arrangements and planted in cemeteries.


The calla lily's common colour is white, but it is available in any colour such as yellow, red, burgundy, pink, orange and even a purple/black combination. When calla lilies are used in weddings, the usual choice is white because of its elegant look and symbolism of purity. A bouquet of calla lilies is majestic; add roses and it creates a stunning contrast. Because of the calla lily's popularity, it is easy to build a wedding theme around it. Accessories touting the calla lily are plentiful.


The calla lily is popular in funeral arrangements not only because of its symbol of resurrection and rebirth, but also because it lasts for 7 to 10 days as a cut flower. It adds beauty to mixed arrangements and in sprays. Often, people choose to have a bouquet of white calla lilies in a simple vase with no ferns or other flowers. This simple approach is not only an image of beauty, but a timeless symbol.


The elegant calla lily can also be a dangerous flower. If it is ingested, it can be toxic. The calla lily contains calcium oxalate crystals that cause intense burning and irritation to the mouth, lips and tongue. It can cause vomiting and difficulty swallowing. Cats love to play with calla lilies and children may have a fascination with the flower.

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About the Author

Pauline Gill is a retired teacher with more than 25 years of experience teaching English to high school students. She holds a bachelor's degree in language arts and a Master of Education degree. Gill is also an award-winning fiction author.