The name "gladiolus" is derived from the Latin word gladius, meaning "sword," for the shape of its leaves. An ancient name for the gladiolus was "xiphium," from the Greek word xiphos, also meaning sword. African gladioli were imported in large quantities to Europe from South Africa during the 18thcentury.
The gladiolus flower is the birth flower for August; it also represented the Roman gladiators. Before the African gladioli became popular in the West, the Mediterranean and British gladiolus flowers were used to treat physical ailments. The English used the gladiolus flower's stem base (corms) as a poultice and for drawing out thorns and splinters; powdered corms mixed with goat's milk was commonly used to soothe the symptoms of colic.
The gladiolus flower signifies remembrance. It also expresses infatuation, telling the receiver that he or she "pierces the heart."