China, at long last, has its own floral symbol – and to no one’s surprise, it’s the “king of the flowers”.

The peony has won overwhelming public support in an online poll over which flower should be China’s national bloom, the China Flower Association announced on Tuesday.

Those who took part in the nationwide polling, which ended on Monday, could choose from 10 nominees: peony, wintersweet, chrysanthemum, orchid, camellia, lotus, sweet-scented osmanthus, Chinese rose, azalea and narcissus.

Out of 362,264 votes cast, 79 per cent went to the peony, followed by 12 per cent for wintersweet and 2 per cent for the orchid. About 1.9 per cent voted lotus, while the rest cumulatively received less than 1 per cent.

PHOTO: China Daily/Asia News Network

The association said the peony – the flower it had recommended – is now awaiting approval from the central government to become the country’s national flower.

With a 4,000-year history in China, the peony is widely seen around the country. Boasting bright colours and an elegant appearance, it is called “king of the flowers” in China and has become an auspicious symbol.

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“The peony was the national flower in the Tang Dynasty (618-907),” said Dong Yan, an official from the association. “Apart from its ornamental value, it also has been used as a food and traditional Chinese herb, so it also has strong economic value.”

The association said China’s national flower should meet four criteria for consideration: it should originate in China and be ubiquitous in many regions, it should be beautiful in shape and colour to represent Chinese culture and personality, it should have profound historical grounding and be widely known to the public and it should be used in many fields in ways that benefit the public.

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China is among the few countries without an official national flower.

Many netizens said they were surprised to discover it did not have one, with some saying they always assumed it was the peony.

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