On the masculine side, the name “orchis” itself stems from the Greek word meaning testicle, and is associated with the flower because of the shape of the tuberoids which grow on the roots. Though approximately 30,000 species of orchids exist, many have an erect stem in the center which resembles a phallus. One source recalls that, in the 1990’s, the phrase “purple orchid” was slang for penis (making it all the more ironic that now Purple Orchid is a Calvin Kline fragrance for women). Among multiple meanings, one meaning the Chinese associate with the orchid is the “Perfect Man.”
On the feminine side, the orchid is also a symbol of beauty, charm, and refinement. In Greek mythology, Satyrion - for whom a family of orchids is named- was a nymph who gave birth to a child fathered by Poseidon. Due to its beauty and its fragrance, the orchid is often referred to as the Flower of Magnificence.
Perhaps it is those meanings which combine the masculine and feminine that best represent the orchid flower. In Confucian teachings, the orchid was the symbol for numerous progeny. It was considered a love potion and aphrodisiac in many countries, including Egypt, Germany, China, and Africa.