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Two flowers proposed to represent the nation

Recently, 62 members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering jointly appealed to decide the national flower of China as soon as possible, recommending a "dual national flower" of the peony and the plum blossom.

As a nation with a time-honored cultural tradition of over 5,000 years and also a country with distinctively diverse landforms and climates, China has had a hard time in choosing a single representative flower from among the vast field of candidates that show up in different regions of the country through traditional art and culture -- peony, Chinese plum blossom, orchid, chrysanthemum, bamboo, water lily, Chinese rose, azalea, camellia, osmanthus, and narcissus.

The "Recommendation Concerning Setting the Peony and Plum Blossom as National Flowers as Early as Possible" calls China's lack of a national flower a hindrance both to the promotion of China's rich heritage of flower culture and to the flower industry's ability to compete on the world stage. As the only major nation without a national flower, China should be spurred to make a decision by the impending 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2010 Shanghai World Expo.

The two-flower recommendation is only one of several possibilities, however, each with its own numbered formulation. There's the "One Country, One Flower," which would require somehow breaking the peony-plum deadlock. "One Country, Two Flowers" is the name of the academicians' choice. "One Country, Four Flowers" adds the chrysanthemum and the water lily. And then there's "One Country, Five Flowers," also known as "One Primary, Four Supplementary," which would name the peony as the main national flower and add one supplemental flower for each season in a new version of the traditional "four gentlemen" -- chrysanthemum (autumn), plum (winter), and orchid (spring), with water lily (summer) substituting for bamboo.

After years of fierce debates, a consensus has been primarily reached among the scholars. "One Country, Multi-Flowers" is not easy to remember while "One Country, One Flower" could hardly be representative enough for such an enormous nation. Therefore, the choice of "dual national flower" might be the most appropriate.

The peony and the plum blossom, both originating from China, have been deeply loved by the Chinese people throughout history. In a large-scale vote for the famous flowers in 1987, the plum blossom and the peony were listed as the top two. Also, the cultural bearings of the two flowers are mutually complementary with the plum blossom always being described as firm and unflinching, symbolizing the indomitable spirit of the nation, and the peony being considered elegant and poised, representing prosperity, wealth, and material civilization.

  Introduction to Peony

  Introduction to Plum Blossom

  Related: A blooming idea- Two National Flowers for China


Author: Jeff