Have you ever wondered why things like the dragon, daffodil or leek are national symbols of Wales.

While the exact origins of Wales' link to Daffodils is "somewhat of a mystery" the dragon and leek have a long connection throughout history with the country they are associated with. 

Ahead of St David's Day on Friday (March 1) we take a look at the stories behind the national symbols of Wales and where the connections originated from.

The reasons behind the national symbols of Wales


Arguably the most well-know of Wales' national symbols is the dragon. 

A red dragon appears on the Welsh flag, the current version of which was adopted in 1959 according to Historic UK, over the top of a white and green backdrop. 

The history and heritage guide added: "The red dragon itself has been associated with Wales for centuries, and as such, the flag is claimed to be the oldest national flag still in use."

But why a dragon?

It is believed to have stemmed from a story told by Geoffrey of Monmouth’s 12th-century text, Historia Regum Britanniae, according to Wales.com involving a Celtic King called Vortigern, Merlin, two Dragons and Dinas Emrys located in North Wales. 

The full story of which can be read here.

South Wales Argus: The Welsh dragon is associated with a story which includes the wizard Merlin.The Welsh dragon is associated with a story which includes the wizard Merlin. (Image: PA)

It has been used throughout history by Welsh kings and royalty having initially been used as a  military standard since the time of the Romans, Wales.com said, who themselves likely borrowed it from the Dacians.

Wales.com added: "It was later adopted by 5th-century Welsh kings, keen to show their authority following the Roman withdrawal from Britain."

The dragon was brought to England for the first time by the House of Tudor, the Welsh dynasty that held the English throne from 1485 to 1603, Historic UK reports.

It adds: "It signified their direct descent from one of the noble families of Wales.

"The green and white stripes of the flag were additions of Henry VII, the first Tudor king, representing the colours of his standard."


Leeks are a "well established" Welsh symbol with links dating back to as early as the 7th century.

Wales.com explains: "Legends claim that the 7th-century king of Gwynedd, Cadwaladr, ordered his men to strap a leek to their armour to help easily distinguish them from the enemy in the heat of battle, a tale that perhaps inspired the Tudor royal household (who were of Welsh origin) to instruct their guards to wear leeks on St David’s Day, cementing the practice."

The connection between Wales and the root vegetable was so strong it was noted as an "ancient tradition" in William Shakespeare’s Henry V, first performed in the 16th century.


Daffodils are considered the national flower of Wales.

The exact origins of how Wales became linked with the daffodil remains "something of a mystery" said Wales.com.


But believes the connection could be linked to the flower's Welsh name - cenhinen Bedr, which translates as ‘Peter’s leek’.

Wales.com adds although they are not sure about who Peter is the leek, as mentioned above, has been a symbol of Wales since the 16th century.

The daffodil also grows and begins to bloom around St David's Day on March 1.