Flower of Scotland – the Scottish Thistle or ‘Cotton Thistle’ (Onopordum acanthium). Recognised by many instantly as a symbol of Scotland, but how can a colourful, pointy, prickly weed be so famous and mean so much, to so many. It is considered the oldest registered ‘National Flower’ and has many legends and stories about it becoming so. One such story tells of marauding Vikings attempting a night invasion, going stealthily bare footed to attack their sleeping foe in the Scottish Highlands. But they became undone when they trod down on thistles in the surrounding countryside – their cries of pain waking and alerting the sleeping Scots. So the thistle became an instant life saving hero on that particular night and was adopted as a national symbol. Celebrated across the nation, the thistle has been the star of poems and songs, has appeared in art, on coins of the realm and is of course featured often in national and tribal heraldry. There are a number of ‘thistles’ found in Scotland and which genus is the exact initially adopted flower of the nation is not really known, but the cotton thistle is the most common.
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