National Flower Series–Southern Europe 1– Kingdom of Spain – Dianthus Caryophyllus (Carnation)


Carnation is Spain’s national flower (or clavel in Spanish or 康乃馨 in Chinese) and widely grown in the Aragon region of Spain. Also called Dianthus Caryophyllus , carnation is a favorite flower of choice and revered for centuries. It’s Latin Name basically translated into flower of god or love. Carnation in Spain is very much influenced by South Spain or Andalusia’s Spanish folklore and commonly associated to distinction, love and fascination.

Spieces information

  • Scientific name:         Dianthus Caryophyllus 
  • Family:                              Caryophyllaceae
  • Common name:          Carnation, clavel (in Spanish), 康乃馨(in Chinese)

In Spain, carnation is associated with a symbol of affection between lovers and  a religious symbol related to Jesus’s passion representing Crown of Thorns. It is also  related to the seedy side of Spain like gipsy’s lapels  thrown into the bullring ruedos.        

Clavel Sevillano

Spieces information

  • Scientific name:         Dianthus Caryophyllus 
  • Family:                           Caryophyllaceae
  • Common name:         Carnation, clavel (in Spanish), 康乃馨(in Chinese)

Carnation is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 80 cm tall. The leaves are glaucous greyish green to blue-green, slender, up to 15 cm long. The flowers are produced singly or up to five together in a cyme; they are 3–5 cm diameter, and sweetly scented; the original natural flower color is bright pinkish-purple, but cultivars of other colors, including red, white, yellow and green, have been developed. (Source:



Additional notes:

Carnations are traditionally flowers used to express feelings since olden days. Like roses, colors of carnations carry different meanings and it is wise to find out the meanings for each color before you present the flower to them. In addition, different colors  are used for different occasion. The following table summarizes the common colors, its meanings and occasions to wear them.



Occasions to wear

Light red Admiration  
Red Symbol of love; symbol of Portuguese Carnation Revolution; symbol of socialism and labor movements Wear on Mother’s day if mother is alive, Parents day for Korea; May day as a symbol of socialism and labor movement for Austria, Italy and former Yugoslavia ; Final examination of University of Oxford
Dark red Symbolic of deep love or admiration, depending on the depth of the red  
White Purity and luck Wear on Mother’s day is mother is dead; 1st examination of University of Oxford;
Pink Sign of gratitude, symbolizes mother’s love MOTHERS DAY, weddings, Parent’s day for Korea;
Examinations between first and final examination of University of Oxford
Purple Indicates capriciousness, In France, a traditional funeral flower, given in condolence for the death of a loved one.  
Striped Regret or refusal  
Yellow Dejection  
Green Symbol of homosexuality in the early 20th century St Patrick’s day;

Happy Mother’s Day and enjoy reading.


I have yet to complete my National Flower Series – East Asia. As tomorrow is Mother’s day, I thought it would be nice to put up something on carnation and therefore, I have written this post about the national flower of Spain.   The series on East Asia will resume in my next post on National Flower Series.

National Flower Series – East Asia 2 – China (Mudan) – A little bit more


Paeonia suffruticosa (tree peony) is native to China, where it is known as Mudan.

In front of the Audience Hall of Mu Tsung Huang Ti … there were planted thousand-petalled tree-peonies. When the flowers first opened the fragrance of their perfume was perceived by everyone. Each blossom had a thousand petals, large and deeply red. Every time His Majesty gazed upon the sweet-scented luxuriance he would sigh and say, ‘Surely such a flower has never before existed among men!’ (Ninth-Century Chinese Writer)

Science and Civilisation in China: Volume 6: Biology and Biological Technology, Part 1, Botany, by Joseph Needham (Cambridge University Press 1986).

The tree peony is not actually a “tree” but more of a woody-shrub preferring some shade from harsh afternoon noon. The woody stalks produce the next season’s flowers and should be left in tact throughout the winter (unlike herbaceous peonies which die to the ground each season). They are very slow to establish, but well worth the wait. Huge blooms appear in mid-spring (before herbaceous peonies) and the flowers are surrounded by lovely fern-like foliage with a reddish tinge.

Writing about national flower China, I found this post that I have read a while ago is now a suitable time to re-blog this. Very knowledgeable writer.

National Flower Series – East Asia 2- China (Mudan) – Unofficial

National Flower Series – East Asia 2 – People’s Republic of China – UNOFFICIAL

Although People’s Republic of China has not officially declared a national flower, everyone in China knows that the Republic’s unofficial national flower is peony (Paeonia Suffruticosa) also called 牡丹 (mǔdān) or 富贵花 (fùguìhuā) “flower of riches and honour”, 花王 (huawang) “king of the flowers”, and is used symbolically in Chinese art and is considered as a symbol of prosperity.

The Qing Dynasty adopted Poeny as the national flower for China. However, over the past 20 years, numerous attempts have been made to select a national flower. The two front-runners are the peony and Chinese plum blossom. Some people believe China is too large and diverse to be represented by just one flower. The idea of a dual national flower (including both the peony and plum blossom) is growing in popularity. Another suggestion proposes having a different flower to represent each season. In 1994, a panel from the Chinese Flower Association recommended the peony as the national flower, along with these seasonal flowers: orchid (spring), lotus (summer), chrysanthemum (autumn) and plum (winter). This, however, was not ratify by the National People’s Congress. In 2003, another selection process had begun but until to date, no decision had been made.

The ancient Chinese city Luoyang has a reputation as a cultivation centre for the peonies. Throughout Chinese history, peonies in Luoyang have been said to be the finest in the country. Dozens of peony exhibitions and shows are still held there annually.

Paeonia (peony or paeony) is a genus of flowering plants, the only genus in the family Paeoniaceae. They are native to Asia, Southern Europe and Western North America. Boundaries between species are not clear and estimates of the number of species range from 25 to 40.

Most are herbaceous perennial plants 0.5 to 1.5 metres (1.5 to 5 feet) tall, but some resemble trees 1.5–3 m (5–10 ft) tall. They have compound, deeply lobed leaves and large, often fragrant, flowers, ranging from red to white or yellow, in late spring and early summer.

National Flower Series–East Asia 1–Japan–Chrysanthemum


National Flower Series – East Asia 1 – Japan (De-facto or non-official)

Japan do not have officially declared national flowers like other countries. However, two flowers that have significant influences in Japanese cultures and histories : Chrysanthemum (菊花) and Cherry Blossom (樱花) were deemed to be the de-facto national flowers.


Chrysanthemums, often called mums or chrysanths, are perennial flowering plants of the genus Chrysanthemum in the family Asteraceae which are native to Asia and northeastern Europe.Chrysanthemum are herbaceous perennial plants growing to 50–150 cm tall, with deeply lobed leaves with large flower heads that are generally white, yellow or pink in the wild.

Chrysanthemum had a deep rooted relationship with the royal family as evidenced by the following observations. It is believed that chrysanthemum may have been brought to Japan in the eighth century AD and the Emperor adopted a 16 petals yellow chrysanthemum flower design as his imperial seal (菊花印章) which shall solely be used by the members of the Japanese Imperial family. The Emperor also have chosen to name “Chrysanthemum Throne” to represent the periods reigned by Japanese emperors. A number of formerly state-endowed shrines (官国弊社), kankokuheisha) adopted chrysanthemum in its crest, most notably Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine. In addition, the Japanese honor awarded by the emperor were named as the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum.In Imperial Japan, small arms were required to be stamped with the Imperial Chrysanthemum, as they were considered the personal property of the Emperor.

Cherry Blossom (Sakura)

A cherry blossom is the flower of any of several trees of genus Prunus, particularly the Japanese Cherry, Prunus serrulata, which is sometimes called sakura after the Japanese (桜 or 櫻; さくら). Many of the varieties that have been cultivated for ornamental use do not produce fruit. Edible cherries generally come from cultivars of the related species Prunus avium and Prunus cerasus.

In Japan, cherry blossoms are richly symbolic, and have been utilized often in Japanese art, manga, anime, and film, as well as at musical performances for ambient effect. There is at least one popular folk song, originally meant for the shakuhachi (bamboo flute), titled “Sakura”, and several pop songs. The flower is also represented on all manner of consumer goods in Japan, including kimono, stationery, and dishware.

The Sakurakai or Cherry Blossom Society was the name chosen by young officers within theImperial Japanese Army in September 1930 for their secret society established with the goal of reorganizing the state along totalitarian militaristic lines, via a military coup d’état if necessary.

During World War II, the cherry blossom was used to motivate the Japanese people, to stoke nationalism and militarism among the populace. Even prior to the war, they were used in propaganda to inspire “Japanese spirit,” as in the “Song of Young Japan,” exulting in “warriors” who were “ready like the myriad cherry blossoms to scatter.” A cherry blossom painted on the side of the bomber symbolized the intensity and ephemerality of life;in this way, the aesthetic association was altered such that falling cherry petals came to represent the sacrifice of youth in suicide missions to honor the emperor.The first kamikaze unit had a subunit called Yamazakura or wild cherry blossom.The government even encouraged the people to believe that the souls of downed warriors were reincarnated in the blossoms.

In its colonial enterprises, imperial Japan often planted cherry trees as a means of “claiming occupied territory as Japanese space”.; http://en.wikipedia

It is such a coincidence that the two countries (Japan and China) I have selected to kick off the EAST ASIAN COUNTRIES NATIONAL FLOWER SERIES do not have officially declared national flowers. However, its is still included as part of the National Flower Series because of their significant influences in these countries’ culture; that particular species’ origins; uniqueness to the countries; likability and perception by the people that rendered their de-facto status.

National Flower Series – South East Asia 8- Vietnam

National Flower Series – Socialists Republic of Vietnam (Nelumbo Nucifera)
Pink Nelumbo nucifera or lotus (莲花、荷花,古称芙蓉) is the national flower Socialists Republic of Vietnam. It should be noted that though Sri Lanka and India also declared lotus as the national flowers, but Vietnam specifically choses pink lotus as its national flower.

Nelumbo nucifera, known by a number of names including Indian lotus, sacred lotus, bean of India, or simply lotus, is one of two species of aquatic plant in the family Nelumbonaceae. This plant is an aquatic perennial. Under favorable circumstances its seeds may remain viable for many years, with the oldest recorded lotus germination being from that of seeds 1,300 years old recovered from a dry lake bed in northeastern China. A common misconception is referring to the lotus as a water lily (Nymphaea) or 睡蓮 is an entirely different plant, as can be seen in the center of the flowers, which lack the structure that goes on to form the distinctive circular seed pod in the Nelumbo nucifera.

The Vietnamese Government disclosed that lotus was chosen as the national flower of Vietnam because it has origin from Vietnam and has been grown in most parts of the country for a long time to embody both cultural identity and national spirit. Lotus also has a pleasant fragrance and made appearance in many traditional literatures, cultural and architectural works of Vietnam. In Vietnam, lotus represents the noble mind and pure spirit of Vietnamese and is the best symbol to characterize Vietnam. Vietnam Airlines, the national airline has adopted lotus as its airline symbol.

As lotuses live near the mud but they still have a dainty beautiful flower coupled with a pleasant smell, as such, some people thinks that this best describe theVietnamese people – though faced with many hardship, Vietnamese people still maintain their purities and beauties inside their souls. Note: In Chinese literature, lotuses were also being appreciated for its ability to produce beautiful flowers in a less than desirable living environment. (周敦颐的《爱莲说》写到“予独爱莲之出淤泥而不染,濯清涟而不妖,中通外直,不蔓不枝;香远益清,亭亭净植;可远观而不可亵玩焉”)

Source: adapted from,

National Flower Series – South East Asia 5- Philippines

National Flower Series – The Phillipines – Sampaguita or Jasminum Sambac

Sampaguita (Jasminum sambac) is a sweetly scented tropical flower belonging to the wide genus of Jasmines (Jasminum) and have other names known as Philippine Jasmine, Arabian jasmine, Pikake in Hawaii, Grand Duke of Tuscany, Kampupot, and Melati in Indonesia and Malaysia.

Sampaguitas were first introduced to the Philippines in the 17th century from Himalayan areas and become part of the the Philippines landscape for centuries. About eight species are generally listed for Sampaguita. Some varieties of Sampaguitas can grow as large as small roses.

Native to Southern Asia, Jasminum Sambac is the national flower of the Philippines and coincidentally one of the three national flowers of Indonesia. Its flower is widely used by Asian communities in tea and religious offerings. Kings and emperors of ancient Chinese, Afghanistan, Nepalese and Persian Kingdom were known to have Jasmines planted in the palace compounds to enjoy its heavenly fragrance. In addition, the flowers were used for making perfumes, hair ornaments, teas. The shrubs roots were used to treat wounds and snake bites by the traditional medicine practitioners. Source :

National Flower Series – South East Asia 7- Cambodia

National Flower Series – Kingdom of Cambodia (Mistrella Mesnyi or Rumdul)

Rumdul (银帽花、隆都花) or mitrella mesnyi is a species of flowering plant in the soursop family, Annonaceae. In a 2005 royal decree by King Sihamoni of Cambodia, the rumdul or romduol as it is known in Cambodian, was proclaimed the national flower of Cambodia.

This plant has a yellowish-white flower with a single alternate leaf. It has a height of 8–12 m and a stem diameter of 20–30 cm. It gives out an attractive smell in the late afternoon and evening, a distinctive fragrance that can be smelled from a long distance. The rumdul plant also bears edible fruitsgrowing in clusters that will turn dark red when ripe.

Rumdul can grows in wild and seen almost everywhere in Cambodia. Cambodian people like to grow it for decoration of houses and public parks. Due to fragrant smell of Rumdul flower, in ancient Khmer people like to use it for material to produce lip waxes for women. Stem of Rumdul can also be used for supplement construction materials and firewood. In the season of maturing of Rumdul fruit, people who live close to the forest is always collecting the Rumdul fruits to sell for living. Due to the attraction of fragrant smell, therefore, Khmer women have been compared to the Rumdul flower, and also some Khmer’s author has written some song such as Rumdul Kraties and Rumdul Pursat, etc.

It is not an eye catching trees. They are grown by the road sides and many foreigners do not even notice it is the national flower of Cambodia.


National Flower Series – South East Asia 10- Laos

National Flower Series – Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Plumeria Rubra or Dok Champa)

Dok Champa, also known as frangipani or plumeria rubra or 缅栀花(鸡蛋花), is the national flower of Lao People’s Democratic Republic (“Laos”). The trees are considered sacred and planted throughout the country, everywhere from the Southern Province “Champasack” to Northern Province “Phongsaly” especially in the monastic areas. The waxy flower, with a sweet scent, release at night, can be found in many colors: red, yellow, pink and multiple pastels but the national symbol is the white Dok Champa with the yellow center.

In Laos, Champa symbolizes joy in life and sincerity. It is often used as a decoration in ceremonies or made into a garland for welcoming guests. The flowers were also mixed with water and poured over Buddha statues during Lao New Year (Pi Mai). They are used as a garnish of food and drink and don’t be surprise if you found deep fried frangipani in your dishes which was added to impart a subtle aroma.

General information
The fabulous frangipani, Plumeria rubra is a deciduous plant species belong to the genus Plumeria originated from Mexico, Central America, Columbia and Venezuela. It has a stunning flower and were grown in the tropics and subtropics as garden and park ornamental plants. It’s well known for its beautiful and fragrant flowers, the colours of which can vary enormously from white with a yellow centre, through shades of apricot and right through to pink and even dark red.

Frangipanis are always equated with historic, old hat and can commonly found in old ancient historic monastic areas in countries such as Laos, Thailand and Cambodia. In countries like Malaysia and Singapore, it is not difficult to find such plants in the courtyards of the historic residential properties where such plants were planted in abundant due to their easy maintenance and beautiful flowers. However, in some South and South East Asian cultures, the plants were associated with death, vampires, shelters for demons and ghosts etc where such they were planted in the cemetery and used in funerals.

Additional note:
Propagating frangipani is simple by taking a piece of hardwood about 300 millimeters long. Leave the cutting in the sun for a couple of weeks to dry out and then put into some potting mix. Within a few weeks it will have formed roots.

National Flower Series – Oceania 1- Papua New Guinea

National Flower Series – Papua New Guinea (Dendrobium Lasianthera or Sepik Blue – unofficial)

As at to date, Papua New Guinea (“PNG”) do not have any official national flower.
However, Dendrobium lasianthera or Sepik Blue orchid were unofficially deemed to be the national flower. The flower is unique to the Yimas Lakes region of the East Sepik Province , Papua New Guinea and have another beautiful name : “Lady Veronica Somare”,(nicknamed after PNG’s Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare’s wife). It is highly regarded throughout the world because of its purity of color and form.
A large sized, hot growing epiphyte from damp, humid river and streams in lowland forests of Papua and New Guinea below 100 meters in elevation with terete, erect stems carrying leaves throughout the length and have elliptic, coriaceous, emarginate, alternate leaves. The bloom season is from spring through autumn on an axillary, medium length to 1 to 2’ [30 to 60 cm], several to many [10 to 30] flowered raceme with showy flowers that arises from the nodes near the apex of mature leafy canes with water and fertilizer applied evenly year round. (Source:

In Andree Millars book ‘Orchids Of Papua New Guinea-an introduction’, the charming characteristics of the orchids can be visualized via the following quotes: “The trees are small, averaging 3 to 4m high, and it is something to remember all of your life-acres of swamp and the beautiful ‘Sepik Blue’ or ‘May River Reds’ in their hundreds standing above the tree tops.” (source:

National Flower Series – South East Asia 2- Malaysia

National flower series – Malaysia – Hibiscus rosa-sinesis

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is the national flower of Malaysia, called Bunga Raya in Malay. Introduced into the Malay Peninsula in the 12th century, it was nominated as the national flower in the year 1958 by the Ministry of Agriculture amongst a few other flowers, namely ylang ylang, jasmine, lotus,rose, magnolia, and bunga tanjung. On 28 July 1960, it was declared by the government of Malaysia that the hibiscus would be the national flower.

The word bunga in Malay means “flower”, whilst raya in Malay means “big” or “grand”. The hibiscus is literally known as the “big flower” in Malay.

The red of the petals symbolizes the courage, life, and rapid growth of the Malaysian, and the five petals represent the five Rukun Negara of Malaysia.

The flower can be found imprinted on the notes and coins of the Malaysian ringgit.