Flower of Scotland

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Dark blue background. The silhouette of a white flower is in the center with bold white text curling around above and below the flower.

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Many countries have a national flower. For instance, the national flower of England is the rose, and the national flower of Ireland is the shamrock. For Scotland, the national flower is the thistle. Thistle is a prickly weed with very long thorns and a light purple flower. There are a number of different varieties of thistle found in Scotland. 

How the thistle became the national flower of Scotland is unknown, but there is a legend based on the Battle of Largs in 1263. The legend goes that there was a Norse invading army sneaking up on a group of sleeping Scottish warriors. One of the invaders stepped on the thorny plant and cried out, alerting the sleeping Scots. The Scottish warriors then awoke and defeated the invading Norseman, and took up the thistle as their national symbol. 

The plant served as inspiration for a famous Scottish poem written by Hugh MacDiarmid titled A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle. Also, the highest honor the queen can bestow on someone in Scotland is titled the Order of the Thistle. The order was established in 1687 by King James the third. The thistle was used as a royal symbol for the first time in the year 1470, when King James the third issued silver coins imprinted with the image of thistle. Visitors to Scotland can find this prickly wild flower growing everywhere.


Johnson, B. The Thistle - National Emblem of Scotland - Historic UK. Retrieved 30 March 2021, from https://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofScotland/The-Thistle-Nat…

Stevenson, J. (2019). Why The Thistle Is The National Flower Of Scotland. Retrieved 30 March 2021, from https://www.scotlandswild.com/scotlands-wild-blog/why-the-thistle-is-th…

Thistle - National Flower of Scotland. Retrieved 30 March 2021, from https://www.visitscotland.com/about/uniquely-scottish/thistle/

Catalog ID IB0558