Rainbow Nations: 20 Floral Treasures

Almost every nation in the world has adopted a flower to represent their country, officially or not. Selections may be made for religious or cultural reasons, or may be according to the family of the ruling class at the time.

Some flowers, like the rose, are the emblem of more than one country – in this case Britain, the US and the Maldives – whereas others are exclusive to one country. Here’s a photographic list of just a small selection of beautiful floral emblems from around the world, and a few tips on when to travel to see some of them at their best:

Australia – Golden Wattle

Golden Wattle
Image from Ibsut

Australia’s national flower inspired the country’s national green and gold colours, and the plant even has its own day – National Wattle Day – on 1 September every year. Formally declared in 1992, National Wattle Day is a celebration of all things Australian. To see the country’s green and gold in full bloom, take advantage of some cheap flights to Australia between late winter and spring.


Barbados – Dwarf Poinciana

Dwarf Poinciana
Image from mauroguanandi

Belgium – Red Poppy

Image from Bert K

China – Plum Blossom

Image from ming1967

Finland – Lily of the Valley

Image from Muffet

Germany – Knapweed

Image from Dominic’s pics

Netherlands – Tulip

Image from Misserion

As a nation, The Netherlands has been tulip-mad for centuries. Although the plant originates from Asia and the Mediterranean, tulip bulbs were first brought to The Netherlands in the 16th Century. The botanist Carolus Clusius of Leyden began to grow large displays of the flowers, and ‘tulipmania’ was born.

Tulips became all rage across Europe, with prices skyrocketing to remarkable levels, and The Netherlands became the main exporter for the continent. Eventually the market crashed and the Dutch government had to step in to stabilise prices, but tulips remain at the heart of Dutch life and industry to this day. Book a trip to The Netherlands in late April to see the tulip fields at their best.


Iceland – Mountain Avens

Image from pellaea

India – Lotus

Image from Li-Ji

Maldives – Pink Rose

Image from Muffet

New Zealand – Kowhai

Image from Tony Cardno

Striking Kowhai trees grow all over New Zealand, and the yellow flowers can be seen from July right through to November. The Maori used the tree as a source of medicine, using the bark to make a poultice for wounds, bruises and muscular pains.


Portugal – Lavender

Image from Swami Stream

Russia – Camomile

Image from Stevie-B

Scotland – Thistle

Image from OliBac

The thistle symbolised nobility of character to the Celts, and became the emblem of the Order of the Thistle – an order of chivalry founded by King James II in 1687. Another story tells of how a Viking invader stepped on a thistle while attacking a Scottish castle at night, alerting the defenders to their whereabouts. Either way, the thistle is the national flower of Scotland, and blooms from late spring and throughout the summer.


South Korea – Rose of Sharon

Image from audreyjm529

Spain – Red Carnation

Image from gajtalbot

Switzerland/Austria – Edelweiss

Image from fchelaru

Syria – Jasmine

Image from akk_rus

Ukraine – Sunflower

Image from longhorndave

Wales – Daffodil

Image from Muffet

Daffodil is the common name for the Narcissus flower, and in Wales it is customary to wear either a daffodil or a leek on March 1, which is Saint David’s Day. In Wales the Daffodil is called Cenhinen Bedr, or Peter’s Leek, and generally blooms in early spring.

Top image from aussiegal