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National Symbols of Kyrgyzstan

The National Flower of Kyrgyzstan: Tulip

In brilliant reds, orange, purples, and yellows, the national flower of Kyrgyzstan is the finicky but faithful, bulbiferous tulip.  In the wilds of Kyrgyzstan, there are 27 types of native tulips to be found, some quite rare, and spectacular.  Mostly found in the south, on sunny mountain slopes, the tulips begin to emerge in late April and continue into the summer, proving to be much hardier and resilient than the traditional garden varieties.  

In 2005, the “Tulip Revolution” spiked a global interest in Kyrgyzstan, as nearly 15,000 protesters marched in the streets of Bishek to call for the resignation of the recently elected president.  Election results were believed to be rigged, and frustration with a culture of fraud and corruption motivated the revolution. The protest was successful in that the elected president fled the country, but political instability continued for several more years.  In 2010, changes to the constitution regarding presidential powers were confirmed with a 90% vote.  The Tulip Revolution was so named because of the flowers that the protestors carried in demonstration of their peaceful intentions during the march. 

national flower of Kyrgyzstan, tulips.  Photo of red and yellow tulips.

The National Fruit of Kyrgyzstan | Blackberry

These thorny bushes cover the mountain slopes and fill in the gorges and valleys next to streams, profuse in their juicy dark fruits by late July and producing throughout August.  In Kyrgyz, blackberries are called buuldörkoon, and are used for making jam or baked desserts, though most often they are enjoyed fresh from the bushes as an afternoon snack.  Hikers beware!  Long pants and a good stick are crucial for treks that promise to encounter thickets of this wild, national fruit.  Clever riders on horseback will wear plastic Coke bottles, sliced in half and tied around the neck with a bit of rope, in order to collect drooping caches from bushes that overhang on sunny mountain roads.

national fruit of kyrgyzstan, blackberries.  Juicy black berries in a clear macro shot. 

The National Tree of Kyrgyzstan | Siberian Fir

The pungent, smoky, refreshing scent of burning juniper branches easily leads one to believe that the national tree of Kyrgyzstan is archa, or juniper.  Regaled with honor for its traditional role in Kyrgyz medicine and cultural beliefs, juniper is often pictured in local or regional logos and brands.  But in official standings, the Siberian Fir holds status as the national tree.  It is also endemic to the region and often more representative of the forested mountains that austerely portray the wild grandeur of the Kyrgyz landscape.  Requiring more water and a colder winter, it cannot survive in the hotter, drier climate of southern Kyrgyzstan, where the juniper forests still reign.  Combining the official and cultural allegiances to these trees, one could argue that both hold equal status as a national symbol of Kyrgyzstan.

national tree of kyrgyzstan, Siberian fir. photo of mountain valley filled with tall dark green trees in ala archa valley, kyrgyzstan.

Ruby Mitchell

Online Content Editor @ White Leopard Travel Co.

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