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soft power

the untapped potential of national flowers

I believe National Flowers are a missed opportunity to represent the best of humanity. While researching the origins of these symbols, I gained unique insights into cultures and people that I had never personally encountered. Humanising otherwise faceless entities in a way that I consider to be quite powerful. And yet, National Flowers are largely unknown and scarcely utilised in international communications. Generally, these symbols are regarded lazily as amusing but menial identifiers. But could they be more? In this selection of writings, I reflect on my personal identity as an American and the significance of political symbols. I ponder the inadequacies of national flags as I investigate their origin and use. I consider floral symbolism throughout human history and make the case that in an era that grapples with intercultural dialogue, well-chosen national flowers offer an alternative empathetic representation of our societies. Exploring themes of identity, patriotism, cultural diversity, and peaceful exchange; I seek a richer, more nuanced understanding of how we might express national identity.

key words:

Nationality | Soft Power | Culture | Flowers | Peace


Us vs. Them


A Personal Reflection

From the Bottom Up

Symbols in Politics


The Fault of Flags

Drawing Lines

Origins of National Flags

Wavin’ Flag

Conflating Patriotism


Why Flowers?

For the Love of Flowers 

Human fascination with floral symbolism

Blooms of War

Flowers entrenched in conflict

Colorful Flowers

Flowers are frequent objects of human fascination, their unique features possess the potential to relate people with rich histories and symbolism. I have never been to New Zealand, but I know that the native Māori people eat scallops and sea urchins in spring when kōwhai flowers bloom. I know that the people of Bhutan are excellent hikers to have discovered the elusive Himalayan Blue Poppy. And I know that Costa Ricans are romantics that believe a mild-smelling Guardia Morada carries their unfulfilled dreams. These floral symbols can be entry points into a deeper understanding of the countries they represent, their national cultures and histories. The following offers examples of national flowers; here I consider how effectively each one captures the spirit of their respective country



The story of the Ukraine's Sunflower.

King Protea

The story of the South African Protea.

Dahlia Flower

The story of Mexico's Dahlia.

Daisy Flowers

The story of Denmark's daisy.

Yellow Rose

The story of the USA's Rose.


The story of the Irish Clover

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