National flowers are among some of the most beautiful flowers in the world. Although not all countries have an official national flower, most do have a flower popularly recognized as the one that best represents their country. Choices are frequently based on historical, religious or cultural significance.
The ceibo, the national flower of Argentina, also known by the scientific name erythrina cristina galli, is actually an erythrina tree with red blooming flowers. Consisting of four red or coral-colored petals, the flowers bloom between November and February. Two of the petals, called wings, are smaller than the other two. The larger ones sometimes combine to protect the organs that contribute to the flower's reproduction. English-speaking people may call the tree and flowers the cockspur coral tree, or you may have heard it called cock's comb.
The lotus, also called a white water lilly, was once the flower representing ancient Upper Egypt. In the thousands of years since, it has come to represent all of Egypt as its national flower. The lotus may be one of the earliest national flowers, because Egypt was one of the first countries to include a flower among its national symbols. The pure white Egyptian variety of the lotus is the only flower known to produce both fruit and flowers at the same time. Lotus plants are perennials, and thrive only in water. This makes the vibrantly blossomed flowers perfect for your backyard water garden if you live in a warmer climate with access to warm-water ponds.
Edelweiss has a rich cultural heritage, and is the national flower of Austria. These flowers, also called "queen flowers," are part of the sunflower family, but grow in the mountains of Europe.
Culturally, they are displayed on Austrian coins. Historically, they were used for medicinal purposes. Images of the flowers adorn postcards and pictures, and the flower was part of a popular song by Rodgers and Hammerstein in the movie "The Sound of Music."
The flowers of edelweiss are not petals at all, but a form of the plant's leaves that appears in a silvery white color. These perennial flowers disappear for good if you pick too many from one plant over several growing seasons.
Ask a New Zealander to show you a kowhai, and he likely will point within his own garden. This much-loved national flower is grown across the country in numerous hybrid varieties. Though it is commonly described as resembling an evergreen tree, the leaves fall off the kowhai plant each year to allow for new growth. While the branches remain bare only a short time before the new leaf buds arrive, it is during this time when the brilliant yellow kowhai flower emerges. Then each flower produces seed compartments made up of pods. While the compartments carry up to eight seeds, each seed rests in its own pod. When the seeds mature, it is best to harvest them and plant them quickly to ensure germination in a timely manner.