Common Flowers in Korea

The peninsula of Korea
The peninsula of Korea (Image: Sea maps series: Yellow Sea image by Stasys Eidiejus from <a href=''></a>)

The peninsula of Korea, located in Northeast Asia, has a vast array of plant life. Gardeners in Korea employ a subtle, minimalistic style that is strongly influenced by their western neighbors in China. Known for harsh winters and long, humid summers, Korea has all four seasons. There are thousands of different species of flowers, a few of which are listed below.

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Hibiscus Syriacus

Also known as the Rose of Sharon, and called “mugunghwa” by Koreans, this exotic summer bloom is Korea’s national flower. The shrub is vase-shaped, and, when mature, grows to 8 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Hibiscus syriacus prefers moist, well-drained soil but is adaptable to different types of soil and will survive drought and pollution, making it popular ornamental foliage. In Korean culture, the Rose of Sharon symbolizes immortality.

Hibiscus syriacus grows to 8 feet tall.
Hibiscus syriacus grows to 8 feet tall. (Image: hibiscus image by Wimbledon from <a href=''></a>)


Abeliophyllum, or Korean Abelialeaf, is part of the olive family. It flowers in late winter or early spring before the new leaves begin to bud. Listed as critically endangered, this flower is cultivated in seven places in Korea. The buds are purple, but open into a small white four-petaled flower with a faint almond smell. This deciduous shrub grows between 3 and 6 feet tall.


Blooming in spring, this perennial flower has 20 to 30 species. Erythronium is known by several different names, including Dog’s Tooth Lily, Trout Lily, Fawn Lily and Adder’s Tongue. Typically cultivated as an ornamental flower, the bulbs are sometimes used to produce flour or consumed as a root vegetable. The leaves are also edible.

Erythronium's leaves are edible.
Erythronium's leaves are edible. (Image: lily image by maureen dainty from <a href=''></a>)


Commonly called gentian, there are 360 species of this popular flower. The flowers are shaped like trumpets and come in a variety of different colors. The most common color is dark blue or azure, but they can also be yellow, cream, white and red. Gentians are extremely hardy and will thrive in full sun or partial shade. As a result, this flower is often used in rock gardens.

Gentiana is often used in rock gardens.
Gentiana is often used in rock gardens. (Image: Gentiane acaule ou de Koch 2 image by photopat from <a href=''></a>)

Clematis Chiisanensis

Commonly known as Lemon Bell, Clematis chiisanensis is a flowering climbing vine that grows as tall as 9 feet. When growing in full sunlight, the flowers bloom in brilliant yellow, but are a dark red wine color when growing in a shaded area. When you trim off spent flowers in May, you will be rewarded with blooms all season.

Clematis chiisanensis is a flowering vine.
Clematis chiisanensis is a flowering vine. (Image: clematis image by Andrzej W&#322;odarczyk from <a href=''></a>)


This fast-growing plant, commonly known as “the tea plant,” prefers acidic soil and does not grow well in calcium-rich or chalky soil. The flowers can grow to be quite large, reaching up to 5 inches in diameter. There are 100 to 250 species of Camellia. Tea and tea oil is produced from the bloom's leaves. Tea oil is widely used as cooking oil across Asia.

Tea oil is produced from Camellia leaves.
Tea oil is produced from Camellia leaves. (Image: camellia image by Christopher Hall from <a href=''></a>)


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