National Flower of Turkey - Tulip

The tulip is a perennial, bulbous plant with showy flowers in the genus Tulipa, which comprises 109 species and belongs to the family Liliaceae. The genus's native range extends from as far west as Southern Europe, North Africa, Anatolia, and Iran to the Northwest of China. The tulip's centre of diversity is in the Pamir, Hindu Kush, and Tien Shan mountains. A number of species and many hybrid cultivars are grown in gardens, as potted plants, or to display as fresh-cut flowers. Most cultivars of tulip are derived from Tulipa gesneriana.

Tulips are spring-blooming perennials that grow from bulbs. Depending on the species, tulip plants can grow as short as 4 inches (10 cm) or as high as 28 inches (71 cm). The tulip's large flowers usually bloom on scapes or subscapose stems that lack bracts. Most tulips produce only one flower per stem, but a few species bear multiple flowers on their scapes (e.g. Tulipa turkestanica). The showy, generally cup- or star-shaped tulip flower has three petals and three sepals, which are often termed tepals because they are nearly identical. These six tepals are often marked near the bases with darker colorings. Tulip flowers come in a wide variety of colors, except pure blue (several tulips with "blue" in the name have a faint violet hue).

The flowers have six distinct, basifixed stamens with filaments shorter than the tepals. Each stigma of the flower has three distinct lobes, and the ovaries are superior, with three chambers. The tulip's fruit is a capsule with a leathery covering and an ellipsoid to subglobose shape. Each capsule contains numerous flat, disc-shaped seeds in two rows per chamber. These light to dark brown seeds have very thin seed coats and endosperm that does not normally fill the entire seed.

Tulip stems have few leaves, with larger species tending to have multiple leaves. Plants typically have 2 to 6 leaves, with some species having up to 12. The tulip's leaf is strap-shaped, with a waxy coating, and leaves are alternately arranged on the stem. These fleshy blades are often bluish green in color.

Origin of the name
Although tulips are often associated with The Netherlands, commercial cultivation of the flower began in the Ottoman Empire. The tulip, or lale (from Persian) as it is also called in Iran and Turkey, is a flower indigenous to a vast area encompassing arid parts of Africa, Asia, and Europe. The word tulip, which earlier appeared in English in forms such as tulipa or tulipant, entered the language by way of French tulipe and its obsolete form tulipan or by way of Modern Latin tulīpa, from Ottoman Turkish tülbend ("muslin" or "gauze"), and is ultimately derived from Persian dulband ("round").

Tulips are indigenous to mountainous areas with temperate climates and need a period of cool dormancy, known as vernalization. They thrive in climates with long, cool springs and dry summers. Although perennials, tulip bulbs are often imported to warm-winter areas of the world from cold-winter areas, and are planted in the fall to be treated as annuals.

Tulip bulbs are typically planted around late summer and fall, in well-drained soils, normally from 4 inches (10 cm) to 8 inches (20 cm) deep, depending on the type planted. In parts of the world that do not have long cool springs and dry summers, the bulbs are often planted up to 12 inches (300 mm) deep. This provides some insulation from the heat of summer, and tends to encourage the plants to regenerate one large, floriferous bulb each year, instead of many smaller, non-blooming ones. This can extend the life of a tulip plant in warmer-winter areas by a few years, but it does not stave off degradation in bulb size and the eventual death of the plant due to the lack of vernalization.

Tulips can be propagated through bulb offsets, seeds or micro-propagation. Offsets and tissue culture methods are means of asexual propagation for producing genetic clones of the parent plant, which maintains cultivar genetic integrity. Seed-raised plants show greater genetic variation, and seeds are most often used to propagate species and subspecies or to create new hybrids. Many tulip species can cross-pollinate with each other, and when wild tulip populations overlap geographically with other tulip species or subspecies, they often hybridize and create genetically mixed populations. On the other hand, most commercial tulip cultivars are complex hybrids, and actually sterile. Those hybrid plants that do produce seeds most often have offspring dissimilar to the parents.

Growing salable tulips from offsets requires a year or more of growth before plants are large enough to flower. Tulips grown from seeds often need five to eight years of growth before plants are flowering size. Commercial growers usually harvest the tulip bulbs in late summer and grade them into sizes; bulbs large enough to flower are sorted and sold, while smaller bulbs are sorted into sizes and replanted, for sale in the future. Holland is the world's main producer of commercially sold tulip plants, producing as many as 3 billion bulbs annually, the majority for export.

In art and culture
During the Ottoman Empire, the tulip became very popular in Ottoman territories and was seen as a symbol of abundance and indulgence. In fact, the era during which the Ottoman Empire was wealthiest is often called the Tulip era or Lale Devri in Turkish.

In classic and modern Persian literature, special attention has been given to these beautiful flowers, and in recent times, tulips have featured in the poems of Simin Behbahani. However, the tulip was a topic for Persian poets as far back as the thirteenth century. Musharrifu'd-din Saadi, in his poem Gulistan, described a visionary, garden paradise with 'The murmur of a cool stream / bird song, ripe fruit in plenty / bright multicoloured tulips and fragrant roses...'

The Black Tulip is the title of a historical romance by the French author Alexandre Dumas, père. The story takes place in the Dutch city of Haarlem, where a reward is offered to the first grower who can produce a truly black tulip.

Today, Tulip festivals are held around the world, including in The Netherlands, Spalding, England. Every spring, there are several tulip festivals in North America, including the Tulip Time Festival in Holland, Michigan, the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in Skagit Valley, Washington, the Tulip Time Festival in Orange City and Pella, Iowa, and the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa, Canada. Tulips are now also popular in Australia and several festivals are held in September and October, during the Southern Hemisphere's spring.

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National Flower of Kuwait - Arfaj

Rhanterium epapposum is a plant of the Asteraceae family. Native to the deserts of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait where it is known locally as Arfaj. The Arfaj plant consists of a complicated network of branches scattered with small thorny leaves and bright yellow flowers about 1.5 cm wide. The Arfaj flower is also the national flower of Kuwait. It is a very bushy shrub approximately 80 cm height. The leaves are small and narrow, and in late spring it will start flowering (April-May). It is considered one of the main desert forage plants for camels and sheep.

When cold temperature prevails the Rhanterium produces leaves quickly after rainfall. In a few months, the branches and newly formed leaves become vigorous, and the brownish yellow flower become enormous, attracting insects and birds. In the summer, when the earth has dried out, the leaves fall and the branches become naked and lignified with living fibers. In times of stress, these alterations may be important in increasing the chance of survival, water and reserve material stored in the stems to remain alive by allowing it to have few dormant bud. When conditions improve, the reserves are transported into buds allowing new growth.
Arfaj fruit is numerous; it forms in late spring and falls off the branches after maturity. It accumulates under the shrub and remains dormant until favorable conditions for germination prevail. Each fruit contains about 6-8 seeds that are transported by wind or water.

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National Flower of Jordan - Black Iris

Iris chrysographes, commonly known as the Black Iris, is a plant species that belongs to the genus Iris. It is native to S China and Myanmar (Burma), growing in meadows, stream sides, hillsides and forest margins. Other irises known as the Black Iris include Iris nigricans which is the national flower of Jordan, Iris petrana which also grows in Jordan, and Iris susiana.

Horticultural classification: Sino-Siberian Iris, Beardless Iris. Herbaceous perennial with creeping rhizomes. Leaves linear and grayish green, to 70 cm long. Flowering stems 25–50 cm, hollow. Flowers reddish violet to very dark violet, almost velvety black, 6–9 cm in diameter, outer tepals usually with golden yellow stripes. Deliciously fragrant flowers are in June to July.

Iris chrysographes is easily cultivated and requires a fertile soil which does not dry out during the growth period. Grow in full sun. Hardy to USDA zone 4. Propagation by seeds or division in the spring. Cultivars must be divided. For cooler areas plants do best if planted in the spring.

Some cultivars are grown, mainly "black" flowered clones under names as 'Black Beauty', 'Black Knight', 'Black' (syn. 'Black Form', an invalid name), 'Ellenbank Nightshade', 'Stjerneskud' and 'Kew Black'. 'Rubella' is purplish violet. Iris chrysographes has been used in a number of hybrids with other species.

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National Flower of Israel - Rakefet (Cyclamen)

Cyclamen is a genus of 23 species of perennials growing from tubers, valued for their flowers with upswept petals and variably patterned leaves. Cyclamen species are native from Europe and the Mediterranean region east to Iran, with one species in Somalia. It was traditionally classified in the family Primulaceae but recently has been reclassified in the family Myrsinaceae.

Cyclamen is Medieval Latin, from earlier Latin cyclamīnos, from Ancient Greek kyklā́mīnos (also kyklāmī́s), probably from kýklos "circle", because of the round tuber. In English, the species of the genus are commonly called by the genus name.

In many languages, cyclamen species are colloquially called by a name like the English sowbread, because they are said to be eaten by pigs: pain de pourceau in French, pan porcino in Italian, varkensbrood in Dutch. Sometimes they are called Persian violet or primrose, although it is unrelated to the violets and is not a primrose (Primula).

Cyclamens have a tuber, from which the flowers and roots grow. In most species, leaves come up in autumn, grow through the winter, and die in spring, then the plant goes dormant through the dry Mediterranean summer.

The storage organ of the cyclamen is a round and somewhat flattened tuber; it develops from the hypocotyl (the stem of a seedling).

The cyclamen storage organ is often informally called a corm. In botany, a corm (found in crocuses) is defined as having a papery tunic and a basal plate from which the roots grow, but the storage organ of the cyclamen has no papery covering and, depending on the species, roots may grow out of any part. Therefore, the cyclamen's storage organ is properly classified as a tuber (somewhat like a potato).

The tuber may produce roots from the top, sides, or bottom, depending on the species. Cyclamen persicum and Cyclamen coum root from the bottom; Cyclamen hederifolium roots from the top and sides. Cyclamen graecum has thick anchor roots on the bottom. Leaves and flowers sprout in rosettes from growing points on the top of the tuber. If the growing points lengthen and become like woody stems, they are known as floral trunks.

In older specimens of Cyclamen purpurascens and Cyclamen rohlfsianum, growing points on the tuber may become separated by shoulders of tissue, and the tuber may become misshapen. In most other species, the tuber is round in old age. The size of the tuber varies depending on species. In Cyclamen hederifolium, older tubers commonly reach 24 cm (9.4 in) across, but in Cyclamen parviflorum, tubers do not grow larger than 2 cm (1 in) across.

Flowering time may be any month of the year, depending on the species. Cyclamen hederifolium and Cyclamen purpurascens bloom in summer and autumn, Cyclamen persicum and coum bloom in winter, and Cyclamen repandum blooms in spring.
Each flower is on a stem coming from a growing point on the tuber. In all species, the stem is bent 150-180° at the tip, so that the nose of the flower faces downwards. Flowers have 5 petals, bent outwards or up, sometimes twisted, and connected at the base into a cup, and five sepals behind the cup.

Petal shape varies depending on species, and sometimes within the same species. Cyclamen repandum has petals much longer than wide, Cyclamen coum has stubby, almost round petals, and Cyclamen hederifolium usually has petals with proportions between the two. Petal color may be white, pink, or purple, often with darker color on the nose. Many species have a pink form and a white form, but a few have only one color, such as Cyclamen balearicum, which is always white.

The dark color on the flower nose varies in shape: Cyclamen persicum has a smooth band, Cyclamen hederifolium has a streaky V, and Cyclamen coum has an M-shaped splotch with two white or pink "eyes" beneath.

In some species, such as Cyclamen hederifolium, the petal edges at the nose are curved outwards into auricles (Latin for "little ears"). Most species, like Cyclamen persicum, have no auricles. In most species, the style protrudes 1–3 mm out of the nose of the flower, but the stamens are inside the flower. In Cyclamen rohlfsianum, however, the cone of anthers sticks out prominently, about 2–3 mm (0.08–0.12 in) beyond the rim of the corolla, similar to shooting-stars (Dodecatheon).

The flower stem coils or bends when the fruit begins to form. The stems of Cyclamen hederifolium and Cyclamen coum coil starting at the end, Cyclamen persicum arches downwards but does not curl, Cyclamen rohlfsianum coils starting near the tuber, and Cyclamen graecum coils both directions, starting at the middle.

The fruit is a round pod that opens by several flaps or teeth at maturity and contains numerous sticky seeds, brown at maturity. Natural seed dispersal is by ants (myrmecochory), which eat the sticky covering and then discard the seeds.

Cultivation and uses
Cyclamen are commonly grown for their flowers, both outdoors and indoors in pots. Several species, particularly Cyclamen hederifolium, are hardy and can be grown outdoors in mild climates such as northwest Europe and the Pacific Northwest of North America.

The cyclamen commonly sold by florists is C. persicum, which is frost-tender. Selected cyclamen cultivars can have white, bright pink, red or purple flowers. While flowering, florists' cyclamens should be kept below 20 °C (68 °F), with the night time temperatures preferably between 6.5 °C to 15 °C (44 °F to 59 °F). Temperatures above 20 °C (68 °F) may induce the plant to go dormant. Cyclamens bloom in different seasons, depending on the species.

In many areas within the native range, cyclamen populations have been severely depleted by collection from the wild, often illegally, for the horticultural trade; some species are now endangered as a result. However, in a few areas, plant conservation charities have educated local people to control the harvest carefully at a sustainable level, including sowing seed for future crops, both sustaining the wild populations and producing a reliable long-term income. Many cyclamen are also propagated in nurseries without harm to the wild plants.

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National Flower of Cyprus - Cyprus cyclamen

Cyclamen cyprium (Cyprus cyclamen) is a perennial growing from a tuber, native to woodland at 300–1,200 m (980–3,900 ft) elevation in the mountains of Cyprus. It is the national flower. Cyclamen persicum and Cyclamen graecum are also found on Cyprus, but are not endemic.

Leaves are heart-shaped with coarsely toothed edges, green variegated with blotches of silver above and purple beneath.

Flowers bloom in autumn to winter, and have 5 upswept petals, white to pale pink with a magenta blotch near the nose. The bases of the petals curve outwards into auricles. After pollination, flower stems curl, and seeds are borne in round pods, opening by 5 flaps when mature.

Cyclamen ×wellensiekii Iets. is a hybrid obtained in 1969 in the Netherlands between this species and Cyclamen libanoticum – the other species of sub-genus Corticata. This fertile hybrid has pink flowers from November till March.

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National Flower of Myanmar - Padauk

Pterocarpus indicus (Pashu Padauk, Malay Paduak, New Guinea Rosewood, or, ambiguously, "Narra" which can refer to several Pterocarpus species) is a species of Pterocarpus native to southeastern Asia, northern Australasia, and the western Pacific Ocean islands, in Cambodia, southernmost China, East Timor, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, the Ryukyu Islands, the Solomon Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam. Other names include Narra (Philippines), Sonokembang (Indonesia), Angsana or Sena (Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore), Tnug (Cambodia).

It is a large deciduous tree growing to 30–40 m tall, with a trunk up to 2 m diameter. The leaves are 12–22 cm long, pinnate, with 5–11 leaflets, the girth is 12-34 m wide. The flowers are produced in panicles 6–13 cm long containing a few to numerous flowers; flowering is from February to May in the Philippines, Borneo and the Malay peninsula. They are slightly fragrant and have yellow or orange-yellow petals. The fruit is a semiorbicular pod 2–3 cm diameter, surrounded by a flat 4–6 cm diameter membranaceous wing which aids dispersal by the water. It contains one or two seeds, and does not split open at maturity; it ripens within 4–6 years, and becomes purple when dry. The central part of the pod can be smooth (f. indica), bristly (f. echinatus (Pers.) Rojo) or intermediate. Most Pterocarpus species prefer seasonal weather but P. indicus prefer rainforests.

Note: Pterocarpus macrocarpus, a similar species native to Burma, is referred to as "Rosewood" throughout South East Asia. P. macrocarpus, is usually harder than P. indicus. When in burl form both are referred to as Amboyna Burl.

The hardwood, which is purplish, is termite resistant and rose-scented. The wood known in Indonesia as amboyna is the burl of the tree, named after Ambon, where much of this material was originally found. Often amboyna is finely sliced to produce an extremely decorative veneer, used for decoration and in making of furniture and keys on a marimba. The flower is used as a honey source while leaf infusions are used as shampoos. Both flowers and leaves were said to be eaten. The leaves are supposedly good for waxing and polishing brass and copper. The tree is recommended as an ornamental tree for avenues and is sometimes planted in Puerto Rico as a shade and ornament.

 It is also a source of kino or resin. In folk medicine, it is used to combat tumors. This property might be due to an acidic polypeptide found in its leaves that inhibited growth of Ehrlich ascites carcinoma cells by disruption of cell and nuclear membranes. It is also known as a diuretic in Europe during the 16th and 18th centuries. Its reputation may be due to its wood infusions, which are fluorescent. It is widely planted as a roadside, park, and car-park tree. The tall, dome-shaped crown, with long, drooping branches is very attractive and the flowers are spectacular in areas with a dry season. It is very easily propagated from seed or large stem cuttings, but suffers from disease problems.

It is the national tree of the Philippines, as well as the provincial tree of Chonburi and Phuket in Thailand.

Pterocarpus macrocarpus (Burma Padauk, Thai: ประดู่) is a species of Pterocarpus native to southeastern Asia in northeastern India, Burma, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.

It is a medium-sized tree growing to 10–30 m (rarely to 39 m) tall, with a trunk up to 1.7 m diameter; it is dry season-deciduous. The bark is flaky, grey-brown; if cut, it secretes a red gum. The leaves are 20–35 cm long, pinnate, with 9–11 leaflets. The flowers are yellow, produced in racemes 5–9 cm long. The fruit is a pod surrounded by a round wing 4.5–7 cm diameter, containing two or three seeds.

The wood is durable and resistant to termites; it is important, used for furniture, construction timber, cart wheels, tool handles, and posts; though not a true rosewood it is sometimes traded as such. Constituents of Pterocarpus marsupium have been reported to have beneficial properties for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

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National Flower of Taiwan - Plum blossom

The National Flower was officially designated as the plum blossom by the Executive Yuan of the Republic of China (Taiwan) on July 21, 1964. The plum blossom, known as the meihua (Chinese: 梅花; pinyin: méihuā), is symbol for resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity, because plum blossoms often bloom most vibrantly even amidst the harsh winter snow. The triple grouping of stamens represents Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Three Principles of the People, while the five petals symbolize the five branches of the government.

Prunus mume, with the common names including Chinese plum and Japanese apricot, is an Asian tree species classified in the Armeniaca section of the genus Prunus. The flower, long a beloved subject in the traditional painting of East Asia, is usually translated as plum blossom. This distinct tree species is related to both the plum and apricot trees. Although generally referred to as a plum in English, it is more closely related to the apricot.
Prunus mume originated in the south of China around the Yangtze River and was later brought to Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, Laos, and Japan. It can be found in sparse forests, stream sides, forested slopes along trails and mountains, sometimes at altitudes up to 1700 to 3100 meter, and regions of cultivation.

Prunus mume is a deciduous tree that starts flowering in mid-winter, typically around January or February in East Asia. It can grow to 4–10 meters tall. The flowers are 2-2.5 cm in diameter and have a strong fragrant scent. The flowers have colors in varying shades of white, pink, and red. The leaves appear shortly after the petals fall. They are oval-shaped with a pointed tip, and are 4–8 cm long and 2.5–5 cm wide. The fruit ripens in early summer, around June and July in East Asia, and coincides with the rainy season of East Asia, the meiyu (梅雨, literally "plum rain"). The stone fruit is 2–3 cm in diameter with a groove running from the stalk to the tip. The skin turns yellow, sometimes with a red blush, as it ripens, and the flesh becomes yellow. The tree is cultivated for its fruit and flowers.

The plant is known by a number of different names in English, including Chinese plum and Japanese apricot. An alternative name is ume, from the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese name, or mume, from the scientific name. Another alternative name is mei, from the Chinese name.

The flower is known as the meihua (梅花), which came to be translated as "plum blossom" or sometimes as "flowering plum". The term "winter plum" may be used too, specifically with regard to the depiction of the flower with its early blooming in Chinese painting.

In Chinese it is called méi () and the fruit is called méizi (梅子). The Japanese name is ume (kanji: ; hiragana: うめ), while the Korean name is maesil (hanja: 梅實). The Japanese and Korean terms derive from Middle Chinese, in which the pronunciation is thought to have been muəi. The Vietnamese name is mai or mơ (although mai may also refer to a different plant, Ochna integerrima, in the south of Vietnam).

Ornamental tree varieties and cultivars of P. mume have been cultivated for planting in various gardens throughout East Asia, and for cut blossoming branches used in flower arrangements.

Chinese varieties
In China, there are over 300 recorded cultivars of Prunus mume. These are divided into three groups by phylogenetics (P. mume and hybrids). These are further classified by the type of branches: upright (直枝梅), pendulous (垂枝梅), and tortuous (龍游梅); and by the characteristics of the flower. Some varieties are especially famed for their ornamental value, including the dahongmei (big red mei), taigemei (pavilion mei), zhaoshuimei (reflecting water mei), lü'emei (green calyx mei), longyoumei (swimming dragon mei), and chuizhimei (weeping mei).

As the plum tree can usually grow for a long time, ancient trees are found throughout China. Huangmei county (Yellow Mei) in Hubei features a 1,600-year-old plum tree from the Jin Dynasty which is still flowering.

Japanese varieties
In Japan, ornamental Prunus mume cultivars are classified into yabai (wild), hibai (red), and bungo (Bungo province) types. The bungo trees are also grown for fruit and are supposed to be hybrids between ume and apricot. The hibai trees have red heartwood and most of them have red flowers. The yabai trees are also used as grafting stock.

Mainland China
The plum blossom, which is known as the meihua (梅花), is one of the most beloved flowers in China and have been frequently depicted in Chinese art and poetry for centuries. The plum blossom is seen as a symbol of winter and a harbinger of spring. The blossoms are so beloved because they are viewed as blooming most vibrantly amidst the winter snow, exuding a certain ethereal elegance, while their fragrance is noticed to still subtly pervade the air at even the coldest times of the year. Therefore the plum blossom came to symbolize perseverance and hope, but also beauty, purity, and the transitoriness of life. In Confucianism, the plum blossom stands for the principles and values of virtue. More recently, it has also been used as a metaphor to symbolize revolutionary struggle since the turn of the 20th century.

Because it blossoms in the cold winter, the plum blossom (meihua) is regarded as one of the "Three Friends of Winter", along with pine, and bamboo. The plum blossom is also regarded as one of the "Four Gentlemen" of flowers in Chinese art (the others being orchid, chrysanthemum, and bamboo). It is one of the "Flowers of the Four Seasons", which consist of the orchid (spring), the lotus (summer), the chrysanthemum (autumn) and the plum blossom (winter). These groupings are seen repeatedly in the Chinese aesthetic of art, painting, literature, and garden design.

An example of the plum blossom's literary significance is found in the life and work of poet Lin Bu (林逋) of the Song Dynasty (960–1279). For much of his later life, Lin Bu lived in quiet reclusion on a cottage by West Lake in Hangzhou, China. According to stories, he loved plum blossoms and cranes so much that he considered the plum blossom of Solitary Hill at West Lake as his wife and the cranes of the lake as his children, thus he could live peacefully in solitude. One of his most famous poems is "Little Plum Blossom of Hill Garden" (山園小梅).

The National Flower of the Republic of China was officially designated as the plum blossom (Prunus Mei; Chinese: 梅花) by the Executive Yuan of the Republic of China on July 21, 1964. The plum blossom is symbol for resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity during the harsh winter. The triple grouping of stamens (three stamens per petal) on the national emblem represents Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Three Principles of the People, while the five petals symbolize the five branches of the government. It also serves as the logo of China Airlines, the national carrier of the Republic of China. The flower is featured on some New Taiwan Dollar coins.

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National Flower of South Korea - Rose of Sharon

Hibiscus syriacus is a widely cultivated ornamental shrub in the genus Hibiscus. Common names include Rose of Sharon (especially in North America), Shrub Althea and Rose Althea.

H. syriacus is a flowering shrub in the plant family Malvaceae native to much of Asia, though not, as Linnaeus thought, to Syria, in spite of the name he gave it. It is upright and vase-shaped, reaching 2–4 m in height. It is widely planted in areas with hot summers for its very attractive white, pink, red, lavender, or purple large and edible flowers. Individual flowers are short-lived, lasting only a day. However, numerous flower buds are produced on the shrub's new growth, which provides prolific flowering over a long summer blooming period (July–September). Shoots make interesting indoor vase cuttings, as they stay green for a long time. In the vase some new flowers may open from the more mature flower buds. The species has naturalized very well in many suburban areas, and might even be termed slightly invasive, so frequently does it seed around.

Hibiscus syriacus, a hardy hibiscus shrub, has been a garden shrub in Korea since time immemorial; its leaves were brewed for a tisane and its flowers are eaten. It was grown in Europe from the 16th century, though as late as 1629 John Parkinson thought it was tender and took great precautions with it, thinking it "would not suffer to be uncovered in the Winter time, or yet abroad in the Garden, but kept in a large pot or tube in the house or in a warm cellar, if you would have them to thrive." By the end of the 17th century, some knew it to be hardy: Gibson, describing Lord Arlington's London house noted six large earthen pots coddling the "tree hollyhock", as he called it, "that grows well enough in the ground". By the 18th century the shrub was common in English gardens and in the American colonies, known as Althea frutex and "Syrian ketmia".

Though it has no autumn color and can be stiff and ungainly if badly pruned, H. syriacus remains a popular ornamental shrub today, with many cultivars. William Robinson mentioned several varieties in The English Flower Garden that are still available today. Triploid varieties were first produced at the National Arboretum, Washington DC, by Dr. D. Egolf, resulting in plants that bloom lavishly, as they are sterile and set no seed; Egolf varieties named for goddesses include the outstanding white 'Diana'. Also in the market are 'Lady Stanley', 'Ardens', 'Lucy', and 'Blushing Bride'.

Hibiscus syriacus is fairly easily propagated from either seeds, with variable results, or by layering or cuttings, cloning the original.

Hibiscus syriacus is the national flower of South Korea. The flower appears in national emblems, and Korea is compared poetically to the flower in the South Korean national anthem. The flower's name in Korean is mugunghwa (Hanja: 無窮花). The flower's symbolic significance stems from the Korean word mugung, which means "eternity".

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National Flower of Japan - Sakura

Japan's national government has never formally named a "national flower", as with other symbols such as the green pheasant, which was named as national bird (by a non-government body) in 1947, but it wasn't until 1999 that the national flag and national anthem were officially passed into law.

A de facto national flower for Japan for many is the sakura or cherry blossom, while a stylised picture of a chrysanthemum is used as the official seal of the Japanese Imperial Family.

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 ( or ; 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 also symbolize clouds due to their nature of blooming en masse, besides being an enduring metaphor for the ephemeral nature of life, an aspect of Japanese cultural tradition that is often associated with Buddhistic influence, and which is embodied in the concept of mono no aware. The association of the cherry blossom with mono no aware dates back to 18th-century scholar Motoori Norinaga. The transience of the blossoms, the extreme beauty and quick death, has often been associated with mortality; for this reason, 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 the Imperial 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." In 1932, Akiko Yosano's poetry urged Japanese soldiers to endure sufferings in China and compared the dead soldiers to cherry blossoms. Arguments that the plans for the Battle of Leyte Gulf, involving all Japanese ships, would expose Japan to serious danger if they failed, were countered with the plea that the Navy be permitted to "bloom as flowers of death." The last message of the forces on Peleliu was "Sakura, Sakura" — cherry blossoms.

Japanese pilots would paint them on the sides of their planes before embarking on a suicide mission, or even take branches of the trees with them on their missions. 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".

The most popular variety of cherry blossom in Japan is the Somei Yoshino. Its flowers are nearly pure white, tinged with the palest pink, especially near the stem. They bloom and usually fall within a week, before the leaves come out. Therefore, the trees look nearly white from top to bottom. The variety takes its name from the village of Somei (now part of Toshima in Tokyo). It was developed in the mid- to late-19th century at the end of the Edo period and the beginning of the Meiji period. The Somei Yoshino is so widely associated with cherry blossoms that jidaigeki and other works of fiction often depict the variety in the Edo period or earlier; such depictions are anachronisms.

Winter sakura (fuyuzakura/Prunus subhirtella autumnalis) begins to bloom in the fall and continues blooming sporadically throughout the winter. It is said to be a cross between Tokyo Higan cherry (edohiganzakura/P. incisa) and Mamezakura/P. pendula.

Other categories include yamazakura, yaezakura, and shidarezakura. The yaezakura have large flowers, thick with rich pink petals. The shidarezakura, or weeping cherry, has branches that fall like those of a weeping willow, bearing cascades of pink flowers.

Japan gave 3,020 cherry blossom trees as a gift to the United States in 1912 to celebrate the nations' then-growing friendship, replacing an earlier gift of 2000 trees which had to be destroyed due to disease in 1910. These trees were planted in Sakura Park in Manhattan and famously line the shore of the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. The gift was renewed with another 3,800 trees in 1965. The cherry blossom trees continue to be a popular tourist attraction (and the subject of the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival) when they reach full bloom in early spring. Also, Balboa Park of San Diego has 2,000 cherry blossom trees that blossom in mid to late March. In Los Angeles, over 2,000 trees are located at Lake Balboa in Van Nuys.

These trees were donated by an anonymous Japanese benefactor and were planted in 1992. They originated from a single parent tree and were developed to grow in warm climates. Philadelphia is also home to over 2000 flowering Japanese cherry trees, half of which were a gift from the Japanese government in 1926 in honor of the 150th anniversary of American independence, with the other half planted by the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia between 1998 and 2007. Philadelphia's cherry blossoms are located within Fairmount Park, and the annual Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia celebrates the blooming trees. The University of Washington in Seattle also has cherry blossoms in its Quad.

Other US cities have an annual Cherry Blossom Festival (or Sakura Matsuri), including the International Cherry Blossom Festival in Macon, Georgia, which features over 300,000 cherry trees. Belleville, Bloomfield, and Newark, New Jersey celebrate the annual Branch Brook Park Cherry Blossom Festival in April, which attracts thousands of visitors from the local area, Japan, and India. As of April 2009, Branch Brook Park has a cherry tree collection with over 4,000 cherry blossoms in more than fourteen different varieties. Branch Brook Park will soon have more flowering cherry trees than Washington, D.C., thanks to an ongoing replanting program. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden in New York City also has a large, well-attended festival. Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is the site of the peace conference that produced the Treaty of Portsmouth, for which the original Washington, DC cherry trees were given in thanks. Several cherry trees planted on the bank of the tidal pond next to Portsmouth City Hall were the gift of Portsmouth's Japanese sister city of Nichinan - the hometown of Marquis Komura Jutarō, Japan's representative at the conference.

Culinary use
Cherry blossoms and leaves are edible and both are used as food ingredients in Japan:
·        The blossoms are pickled in salt and Umezu (Ume vinegar), and is used for coaxing out flavor in Wagashi, (a traditional Japanese confectionery,) or Anpan, (a Japanese sweet bun, most-commonly filled with red bean paste.)
·        Salt-pickled blossoms in hot water is called Sakurayu, and is drunk at festive events like weddings in place of Green tea.
·        The leaves, mostly from the Ōshima cherry because of the softness, are also pickled in salted water and used for Sakuramochi.
Since the leaves contain Coumarin, however, it is not recommended that one eats them in great quantities, due to its toxicity.

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