Collection Inspiration: Amazing Plants

Posted on 12/19/2023

Flowers and other botanical depictions on currency serve as a poignant reminder of the intricate connection between a nation's identity, its people and the diverse flora around them.

World banknotes often feature images of indigenous plants, serving as a reflection of a country's natural heritage and biodiversity. These depictions may include iconic plant species that hold cultural or economic significance, and the choice of flora often reflects the importance of environmental conservation and sustainability.

These botanical representations on banknotes serve as a reminder of the intricate relationship between a nation's identity, its people and the diverse plant life that surrounds them.

Ten Banknotes Featuring Amazing Plants and Flora


Featured on the back of the 2019 50 Soles is Puya raimondii, commonly known as the Queen of the Andes. The largest bromeliad species, it is native to the Andes Mountains in South America, specifically in Peru and Bolivia. This remarkable plant is recognized for its distinctive appearance, characterized by a commanding flower spike that extends up to 50 feet above the ground. Despite its awe-inspiring features, Puya raimondii faces the looming threat of endangerment due to habitat destruction, climate change and the impact of overgrazing by livestock. The urgency of conservation efforts is underscored by the lengthy maturation period of individual plants, taking several decades to produce a single, remarkable inflorescence before completing their life cycle.

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Featured on the back of the1986 (ND 2018) 100 Bolivianos is Heliconia rostrata, commonly known as the hanging lobster claw or false bird of paradise. A tropical plant native to Central and South America, this species is renowned for its vibrant, pendulous inflorescence, which resembles a lobster claw and showcases a brilliant combination of red and yellow hues. Heliconia rostrata thrives in humid, tropical climates and is often cultivated for ornamental purposes in gardens and landscapes. Its unique and showy flowers make it a favorite among enthusiasts of exotic flora.

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Shown on the front of the 1982 500 Rupiah is titan arum, a fascinating and colossal flowering plant native to the rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia. Renowned for its "corpse flower," it earns this moniker due to its pungent odor, reminiscent of a rotting corpse, emitted during its brief and infrequent blooming periods. This incredible plant holds the record for the world's largest unbranched inflorescence, reaching heights of over 10 feet. The titan arum's enormous size and unique bloom, combined with its distinctive scent, make it a botanical marvel that attracts widespread attention and curiosity.

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Given a place of honor on the back of the ND (2021) 10 Ringgits is Rafflesia, a fascinating genus of parasitic flowering plants native to Southeast Asia, renowned for producing the world's largest flowers. The most notable species, Rafflesia arnoldii, boasts blooms that can reach an astonishing 3 feet in diameter. Recognized for its putrid scent, resembling that of rotting flesh, Rafflesia employs this odor to attract flies and other pollinators. Despite its captivating and unusual characteristics, Rafflesia is challenging to observe in the wild due to its rare and sporadic blooming patterns.

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Dominating the back of the ND (1974) 1,000 Francs = 200 Ariary are baobab trees, which are often referred to as the "Tree of Life." This distinctive and iconic species is native to various regions of mainland Africa, Madagascar and Australia. Known for its massive trunk and unique, bottle-like shape, the baobab is adapted to arid climates, where it stores water within its thick, fibrous bark. The tree's branches stretch out like roots, giving it an inverted appearance, and it produces large, white flowers that bloom at night. Beyond its ecological importance, the baobab tree holds cultural significance in many African communities, often featuring in folklore and traditional medicine practices.

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Showcased on the back of the 2000 5 Gulden is passiflora quadrangularis, a vigorous and fast-growing vine belonging to the passionflower genus. Native to South America, this tropical plant is characterized by its distinctive square-shaped stems and large, fragrant flowers. The impressive fruits of Passiflora quadrangularis are sizable, often reaching lengths of nearly a foot, with a tough outer rind and juicy, aromatic pulp inside. Widely cultivated for its edible and flavorful fruits, this passionflower species also holds ornamental value, adorning gardens with its lush foliage and intricate blossoms.

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Cape Verde

Featured on the 2007 1,000 Escudos is dragon tree, a unique and visually striking evergreen tree native to the Canary Islands, Cape Verde and Madeira. Recognizable by its umbrella-shaped canopy and thick, scaly trunk that resembles dragon skin, this species is well-adapted to arid and subtropical climates. The leaves are long and lance-shaped, forming dense rosettes at the ends of the branches. Over time, the dragon tree develops a distinctive, umbrella-like crown, making it a popular choice for ornamental landscaping in various regions with a mild climate.

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Front and center on the 2006 10,000 Ringgit is Passiflora foetida, also known as Pangarut timun dendang. Though native to the Americas, it has been introduced to tropical regions elsewhere. The creeping vine produces an edible fruit about the size of ping pong balls. Its bracts exude a sticky material that traps insects, but it is not known if this nourishes the plant. Therefore, it is considered a protocarniverous plant.

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Shown on both the front and back of the 1982 50 Gulden, the sunflower is a vibrant and iconic flowering plant native to North America and now cultivated worldwide. Known for its large, yellow blooms with a dark central disc, the sunflower is not only visually appealing but also holds agricultural importance. Each flower can produce over 1,000 sunflower seeds, which are known for being rich in nutrients and widely used as a snack or ingredient in various culinary applications. Sunflowers are not only cultivated for their economic value but also celebrated for their symbolism of positivity and sun-like radiance in cultural contexts around the globe.

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Costa Rica

On the right edge of the back of the 2009 1,000 Colones is Hylocereus costaricensis, a nightblooming cactus. A captivating and unique succulent native to the American tropics, this cactus is renowned for its stunning flowers that bloom exclusively during the night, emitting a sweet and intoxicating fragrance to attract nocturnal pollinators like moths and bats. The large, white blossoms of this cactus contrast sharply with its slender, elongated stems. The plant's ability to flourish in arid conditions and its enchanting nighttime blooms make it a popular choice among succulent enthusiasts and gardeners.

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If these notes inspired you, check out our other Collection Inspiration columns for more collecting ideas. Also, be sure to follow PMG on Facebook, PMG on Instagram and PMG on Twitter for articles and interesting notes posted daily.

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