In the floral world, the rose is king. Revered in poetry, film, theatre and music, it’s quite understandable why the rose is the national flower of the United States, the United Kingdom and the Maldives. While roses may be the flower of choice for many of the bouquets, boutonnieres, and centrepieces we deliver in the Melbourne area, true beauty is found in the variety of flowers that make up some of the National Flowers of the World. Flowers Across Melbourne has picked out our 10 favourite national flowers and the countries they represent.
This fragrant shrub with its tiny explosions of yellow flowers is native to Australia’s Capital territory and cemented in the history as the national flower of Australia. Literally. Some of the region’s first settlers used Acacias to build their wattle and daub homes, subsequently coining the nickname “wattle.” Certain types of Golden Wattle were even used by Aboriginals to craft weapons and tools.
The Iris, also called fleur-de-lis, has been officially representing the country of France since the 12th century as both the country’s insignia and national emblem. Before that, it was the official flower of the Roman Empire’s ruling class. The flower takes its name from the Greek word for “rainbow,” and rightfully so; it comes in more than 200 different colours ranging from snow white to deep purple!
This delicate plant has tiny bell-shaped flowers that smell extremely sweet, making it a favourite in both perfumes and bridal bouquets. It flourishes in forests and any other cool, shady spot. The flower is both a bane and blessing to gardeners. It’s a blessing because it grows in colonies and spreads quickly. It’s a bane because—you guessed it— it spreads so quickly and can take over a garden in a short amount of time.
Despite popular belief, the perky tulip comes from Hungary where it travelled along with the Ottoman Empire to Turkey before finally making its way to Holland. In fact, the tulip was once so popular that during the 1600s there was an entire branch of Dutch commerce based around it.
The jasmine has been cultivated for thousands of years for its tiny, star-shaped flowers and intoxicating fragrance. It’s simplicity and pure white colour symbolises purity and peace. Used in cosmetics, perfumes, cooking, aromatherapy, garlands, as hair decorations and in various cultural ceremonies, it’s easy to see why this is the favourite flower of multiple countries.
This cheerful flower was originally cultivated in the Americas before becoming the favourite national flower of the Ukraine. In fact, 60% of the world’s sunflowers are now grown in Europe and Russia. In traditional folklore the sunflower signifies fertility, solar power and vigour. This is highlighted by the sunflower’s unique tendency to turn its “head” and follow the sun across the sky, drooping down towards the ground when night falls.
Orchids are extremely popular and widely cultivated. There are more than 25,000 different of the flower with more being discovered each day. Orchids resemble the human face in that they have a bilateral symmetry, perhaps explaining why they are so popular. These exquisitely unique flowers are prized in decorations and bouquets and are featured in a traditional beverage called “Sahlep” in Turkey. During the 16th century, the beverage made its way to London, England where it was sold in street-side stalls before the introduction of coffee.
Japan is the only country on our list to claim two national flowers. Cherry blossoms bloom for just a short time, and they signify the fragile beauty of life. While the cherry blossom is the national flower of Japan, the chrysanthemum has been a symbol of the Japanese royal family for centuries and is celebrated each year during the “Festival of Happiness.”
It may seem odd to see the pepper tree on our list; however, pepper berry sprigs and sprays can be quite effective when used in seasonal flower arrangements. When you’re looking for a unique bit of visual pop to add to an arrangement, the pepper’s got it.
Basically an aquatic flower, lotus holds a great significance in Indian history. There is hardly any painting or sculpture that doesn’t emphasis the beauty of the lotus flower. Growing in lakes and ponds, this sacred flower occupies a significant position in the mythology of ancient India. In the Hindu holy book – Bhagavad Gita, the lotus flower has been used as a metaphor for detachment. This is because lotus grows in muddy waters and remains untouched. The flower also symbolises beauty and knowledge as Saraswati – the Goddess of Learning is portrayed as seated on it.
Known by its botanical designation of Leontopodium Alpinum, this mountain flower is one of Europe’s best known. Referred to as Queen Flower, this short-lived star-like perennial belongs to the sunflower family. Other than being pictured on Austria’s euro coins, this flower, traditionally used in folk medicine, is considered a remedy in treating both abdominal and respiratory diseases.
The artichoke-like appearance of the protea flower is a beauty in itself. It is available in several different colour schemes, but the pink-coloured proteas are the most beautiful. They are considered to be one of the oldest flowering plants on the planet, dating back to 300 million years. In 1735, botanist Carl Linnaeus, also known as the father of taxonomy named and classified protea. The name protea signifies Proteus, who is the son of Poseidon. Proteus translates to a shape-shifter, and since the flower is found in a variety of different shapes and colours, this name best suits it.
Also referred to as the Pride of Barbados, although native to the Tropics of the Americas, this flower can be found in both India and the Philippines. A heat-loving plant, the Pride of Barbados, produces flowers throughout most of the year, with branches that are prickly and large leaflets for its leaves. Featuring five sepals its flowers measure about 1 ½ inches across.
With over 100 different varies of orchids that flourish in Belize, the national flower of Belize is that of the Black Orchid. The orchid is also known by the name of cockle shell orchid or clamshell orchid. Flowering almost all year round, this variety of orchid grows primarily on trees located in damp areas. With bulblike, greenish-yellow clustered stems, which can vary up to six inches long, the leaves are usually two to three in number.
The province’s official flower isn’t a flower—but rather a tree. The Pacific Dogwood was adopted as the countries official flower in 1956. With bright, attractive blooms, the flower can grow in both a wild and a cultivated form. Currently, the dogwood is only known to grow in British Columbia’s southwest corner, with both Victoria and Vancouver Island being its only remaining homes.
This orchid is an epiphytic orchid, featuring succulent leaves and is endemic to the country of Columbia. Much like the Columbian flag, the flower presents with a lip that is blue, red, and yellow. Also known as the Cattleya trainee, this orchid was named after a Columbian botanist of the 19th Century Jose Jeronimo Triana. Growing at levels of 1500-2000 meters above sea level, the Christmas Orchid, due to destruction of its habitat, is classified as an endangered species.
Also known as the Arum Lily, this flower is lovely and familiar in Africa and Swaziland. Most commonly white in color, they can reach a height of up to 2-3 feet. The leaves, which are broad and dark green, typically grow up to a length of eighteen inches. The center of the flower features a yellow spadix of color and produces a delightfully sweet fragrance. The Calla Lily is Ethiopia’s official flower because it grows in such abundance and the people of the country consider them a sign of peace.
Scientifically known as Acanthus mollis, this is the definite favorite of four floral emblems the country embodies. Not only is it favored for its ornamental aesthetics, but also its use in the architecture of both the Greek and Roman societies throughout the centuries. The curled foliage is most frequently seen carved into stonework atop of columns or in the artwork.
With a fruity, floral, aromatic fragrance, Camomile is in the daisy family. A native to Asia’s western areas, this flower is known to grow freely and proliferately everywhere. With its various medicinal uses, this flower is considered an essential remedy in central Europe. Blue chamomile oil is known to be very soothing, with the addition of dried flowers that can produce a relaxing infusion.
Thistle a common name used for a flowering group of plants that present with margins that contain sharp prickles. Their prickles will also be all over the plant—on both the stems and the leaves. The prickles serve as a protective adaptation that makes the plant undesirable by herbivores.
A deciduous shrub, also known as the Japanese Rose, is recognized the world over as a symbol of not only love and beauty but also of war and politics. This flower is one of the most well-received gift items known, as few do not love the rose. The rose first appeared in Slovakia 35 million years ago—when the world was different from today. With the rose’s perfume being its main attraction, the flower is associated with emotions across the globe. The rose grows best in well-drained, moist soil, with the benefit of either full or partly shaded sun.
Commonly known as Clavel in Spanish, red carnations are traditional flowers used to express gratitude and feelings since ancient Spain. The peasants used to adorn their beautiful white houses with red carnations. The flower has been part of Spain’s numerous traditions and culture, symbolising fascination and love. The red, bright carnations bloom in the month of June every year for six to eight weeks. According to Spaniards, the beauty of red carnations helps relieve insomnia, depression, weakness, and stress.
Lavender is part of an extended mint family, and in Portugal, the plant is a highly popular cooking ingredient. The flower contains potent oils that are mainly used in perfumes, essential oils, cosmetics, and other health and beauty products. Lavender has soporific effects and therefore, people in Portugal keep it under their pillow. People also cherish the bright purple colours of the flower and use it in many decorative items.
It was not until 2001 when Ratchaphruek was named the national flower of Thailand. It is a big tree that blooms bright yellow flowers. Ratchaphrueks grow in clusters and seem like they are about to tumble like raindrops. In Thailand, Ratchaphruek means a royal tree. This tree is also dedicated to the late King of Thailand, King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The King was born on a Monday, and in Thailand, Monday’s colour is yellow. Therefore, Ratchaphruek fits perfectly with all these scenarios.
Linnea is a very delicate wildflower that grows in the deep shadows of Northern spruce forests in Sweden. The flower is named after Linnaeus, who is also celebrated as the Swedish father of Taxonomy. The flower is renowned for its unique appearance. To start with, the stems are extremely thin and each stem boasts at least two flowers. Now, what’s interesting is that Linnea can be found in different colour variants within the same region. However, the most popular one is the pink Linnea that is tremendously fragrant and has a bell-like appearance.
The maple leaf is not just the national flower of Canada but also a part of their flag. So, you can only imagine the significance it boasts to the Canadians. In 1996, the maple leaf was officially declared as the national flower of Canada. Above all, their national anthem, ‘The Maple Leaf Forever,’ was composed and the Canadian forces also had an emblem of the maple leaf on their uniforms during WWI.
Globally, flame lily is often seen as a symbol of purity. But in Zimbabwe, it’s deeply woven in the nation’s history. It’s actually been their national flower since 1980 when the country gained independence.
The flame lily takes on an array of colors ranging from a dark shade of pink to orange, yellow, and red. But despite its vibrancy, this one is a killer. It contains colchicine, a toxic alkaloid, which is fatal if ingested.
With its bright yellow and show-stopping trumpet-shaped structure, the Yellow Trumpet flower is hard to miss. Native to the tropical Americas, this is the Virgin Islands’ territorial flower.
The flower grows in clusters, and it blossoms year-round. These two traits make it one of the best for decorative purposes.
If you’ve been looking for some red flowers to add to your garden, the Ceibo Erythrina is your best bet. With its flaming red color, this flower is sure to draw attention to itself.
The bloom is known by other names, such as Cockspur or Cockscomb. It is so named because its scarlet color is similar to that of a cock’s comb on a rooster’s head.
England’s floral badge is the Tudor rose. It’s also aptly named as the Union rose to represent the coming together of two English houses: Lancaster and York.
This floral emblem consists of bright red color with five white inner petals and five red outer petals. While the flower doesn’t really exist in the plant world, its emblem is very common in England. It’s engraved on the Hampton Court Palace building and even on 20p coins!
The floral badge of Trinidad and Tobago is the Chaconia flower. Also known as ‘Wild Poinsettia’, this flower can be identified through its fiery hue and long sprays of the vermilion pigment.
The flower blossoms at around the same time the country celebrates its independence, that is, August.
Tonga’s national flower is Heilala. It’s quite popular here, and is used for numerous applications, including making garlands. The color of its petals range from pink to carmine.
Fun fact: the Heilala is among the highest-ranked and most treasured of the Tongan flowers. This is primarily because of its origin. Legend has it that the flower originates from Pulotu, the Tongans’ ancestral homeland.
South Korea’s territorial flower is called the rose of Sharon. Its scientific name is Hibiscus syriacus, which depicts the Hibiscus family that it comes from.
There are many varieties of this flower, all of which come in very flashy colors. The Blue Satin, one of its prototypes, is a bluish flower with a red center. The Minifren is another example, and it consists of a white flower with a purple center.