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The meaning of plants on World Coins

Many spectacular world coins feature an array of plants, but why does this iconography hold such significance? Today we look at five coins and the meaning behind the plants that are depicted on them.

Coins of Jaipur – Jhar leaf

A gold mohur coin fromIndia, Princely States, Jaipur. A green icon illustrates the Jhar leaf.

Jhar leaf is one of the most recognizable symbols on Indian coins and it appears on gold, silver and copper coinage of various Princely States. Most notably, it is a symbol of the Princely State of Jaipur and Jaipur mint. It appears on coins of Jaipur with a bud on top is the symbol of the Jaipur mint, which was adopted by the state of Kishangarh as well.

Coins of Sikh Empire – peepal (sacred Fig)

The sacred fig or peepal tree appears on a number of Indian coins, but it is especially prominent on coins of the Sikh Empire. It is a species of fig native to India and Indochina. This tree has great religious significance in three religions that originated on the Indian subcontinent: Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Hindu ascetics consider the species to be sacred and suitable for meditation under its leaves because it is believed that Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment under a peepal tree.

INDIA, SIKH EMPIRE, SHER SINGH (VS 1897-1900 / AD 1841-1843), SILVER RUPEE. Green Icon depicts the sacred fig.

Coins of korea – plum flower

KOREA, GWANG MU (1897-1907), BRONZE ½ CHON, 1906. A green icon highlighting the plum flower.
KOREA, GWANG MU (1897-1907), BRONZE ½ CHON, 1906

The Imperial Seal of Korea or Ihwamun was one of the symbols of the Korean Empire and it features a plum flower (Ihwa or Ehwa). It was originally the emblem of the royal family and was subsequently used for the coat of arms of the short-lived Empire, it can still be seen on some buildings. Plum blossoms are associated with the transition of season and they are as the heralds of spring in Korea.

coins of japan – Chrysanthemum

JAPAN, MEIJI (1868-1912), SILVER 10 SEN, 1887

The Imperial Seal of Japan or National Seal of Japan is also called the Chrysanthemum Seal  (kikumon) or Imperial chrysanthemum emblem. It is one of the national seals and a crest (mon) used by the Emperor of Japan and members of the Imperial Family and it was adopted 839 years ago. During the Meiji Era, only the Emperor of Japan had the right to use the sixteen-petalled chrysanthemum seen on coins. Other members of the Imperial family used a slightly modified version of the seal. Shinto shrines also displayed the Imperial Seal or incorporated elements of the seal into their own tag.

coins of japan – paulownia

JAPAN, MEIJI (1867-1912 AD), ELECTRUM 2 BU, C. 1868-1869. A green icon highlights the Paulownia plant.
JAPAN, MEIJI (1867-1912 AD), ELECTRUM 2 BU, C. 1868-1869

The Government Seal of Japan and one of the country’s national seals, is the emblem (mon) of Paulownia, also known as Kiri crest (kirimon) or the Empress Tree. It is used by the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and the Government of Japan on official documents. It is stylized as Paulownia with flowers arranged in 5-7-5 formation, although through history many other varieties appear on Samurai Kobans and Bu denominations. It resembles a stylized paulownia with 5-7-5 flowers. Before the Chrysanthemum Seal was used extensively, the Paulownia Seal originally was the private symbol of the Japanese Imperial Family, from as early as the 16th century.

Written by Ema Sikic, World Coin Expert. If you have any questions please feel free to contact Ema by email (

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