Just like every person has their own favorite bouquet, each state has a flower to represent its unique landscapes and history. Not only are these state flowers beautiful, but they provide a look at each state’s values.
Next time you want to send someone a bit of local love or throw down in trivia, call on your state flower knowledge! We’re going to cover each state flower, plus we’ll let you in on some fun flower facts and the history of state flowers.
History of State Flowers
All fifty states have an official state flower, but the ways they arrived upon their floral symbol are quite different. Some states couldn’t wait to designate a flower to represent their homes, while others choose a flower as more of a way to meet an invisible obligation.
Why Do States Have State Flowers?
Like many other state symbols, state flowers serve as a way for a state to recognize items that are important to its landscapes or history. In many cases, state schoolchildren voted on a state flower. However, the actual declaration of a state flower fell upon state legislators.
Many state flowers are native to their states, but others are prized by local florists around America. One thing is for sure: the state flower has a special tie to its home state.
When Was the First State Flower Chosen?
Washington adopted the first state flower in 1892. The women of Washington chose the coastal rhododendron to represent this Pacific Northwest state at the Chicago World’s Fair. While it was known as the state flower for many years, the Washington Legislature didn’t officially recognize the flower until 1959.
Why Do Some States Have Two State Flowers?
While it’s called the state flower, some states haven’t been able to contain their floral love to just one species. In many cases, a state has an “official” state flower and a state wildflower.
Some states have changed their state flower over time. When a new flower takes the title of state flower, the old champion often becomes the state wildflower or state cultivated flower.
Additionally, one flower doesn’t always represent the whole state. For example, flowers in Los Angeles are quite different from flowers found in Northern California.
Growing State Flowers for a Native Garden
Interested in planting a native garden? Great! But before you get going with your state flower as your guide, take a minute to stop and think. While you may assume all state flowers are native to their homes, this isn’t always the case.
Sure, lots of places choose a flower that naturally grows in their range, but there are other places to draw inspiration. Some states choose their symbolic flower based on plant breeding efforts that went on in the state (we’re looking at you, Oklahoma). Other states rely on famous people or events that involved a flower.
With all that said, the vast majority of state flowers are native to their representative state. Once you make sure that the flower is endemic to your area, you can incorporate it into your native garden. Add in some other native flowers and you’ll have a garden that provides food and shelter for birds, butterflies, bees, and more!
If you need help determining which flowers are native to your home, check with local gardening clubs and native plant societies. They can help you find plants that will offer a wide range of benefits to local insects and birds.
|State||Flower||Scientific Name||Year Adopted||Fun Fact|
|Alabama||Camellia||Camellia japonica||1959||While the camellia is grown throughout the Southeast US, it’s native to East Asia.|
|Alaska||Forget-me-not||Myosotis alpestris||1917||Alpine forget-me-nots blanket rocky mountains with blue during Alaska summers.|
|Arizona||Saguaro cactus blossom||Carnegiea gigantea||1931||The saguaro cactus is the largest cactus in the United States; these plants can grow over 40 feet tall!|
|Arkansas||Apple blossom||Malus spp.||1901||When Arkansas declared the apple blossom the state flower it was a major apple producer.|
|California||California poppy||Eschscholzia californica||1903||California poppies cover certain hillsides and fields during the spring and summer, especially when ideal weather conditions lead to superblooms.|
|Colorado||Rocky Mountain columbine||Aquilegia coerulea||1899||A 1925 law prohibits the digging and collection of this columbine due to its rare status|
|Connecticut||Mountain laurel||Kalmia latifolia||1907||Mountain laurel is an evergreen, so it adds color even after its white and pink flowers fade.|
|Delaware||Peach blossom||Prunus persica||1953||The peach blossom was declared the floral emblem in 1895 before becoming the state flower in 1953. In 1895, Delaware had over 800,000 peach trees.|
|Florida||Orange blossom||Citrus sinensis||1909||Beekeepers bring in hives to pollinate citrus groves, and the result is a citrusy orange blossom honey.|
|Georgia||Cherokee rose||Rosa laevigata||1916||While this rose is named after the Cherokee people, it is native to East Asia.|
|Hawaii||Yellow hibiscus||Hibiscus brackenridgei||1988||All colors of hibiscus were declared the state flower in the 1920s until the yellow hibiscus was selected in 1988.|
|Illinois||Violet||Viola spp.||1907||There are at least eight different species of blue violets in Illinois, although it can be hard to tell them apart.|
|Indiana||Peony||Paeonia spp.||1957||The zinnia was the Indiana state flower from 1931 to 1957.|
|Iowa||Wild rose||Rosa arkansana||1897||The wild rose was etched on silver given to the battleship the USS Iowa.|
|Kansas||Sunflower||Helianthus annuus||1903||Sunflowers rotate to follow the sun; a phenomenon known as heliotropism.|
|Kentucky||Giant goldenrod||Solidago gigantea||1926||Not only is goldenrod beautiful, but it also feeds many pollinators.|
|Louisiana||Magnolia||Magnolia spp.||1900||Magnolia flowers fill the air with a sweet, floral scent.|
|Maine||White pine cone||Pinus strobus||1895||Pine trees don’t require flowers to produce seeds, but they do have male and female cones.|
|Maryland||Black-eyed Susan||Rudbeckia hirta||1918||Black-eyed Susans are native to the majority of US states, making them a great choice for native gardens.|
|Massachusetts||Mayflower||Epigaea repens||1918||Mayflowers are some of the first flowers to emerge in the spring…they can even be found in melting snow.|
|Michigan||Apple blossom||Malus spp.||1897||There are over a hundred apple varieties available today, but only some are grown commercially.|
|Minnesota||Pink and white lady’s slipper||Cypripedium reginae||1902||Like all lady’s slippers, this plant is a temperate orchid.|
|Mississippi||Evergreen magnolia||Magnolia spp.||Magnolia spp.||While magnolias are evergreen, they drop their leaves throughout the year.|
|Missouri||Hawthorn||Crataegus spp.||1923||Researchers are exploring the ways hawthorn can benefit heart health.|
|Montana||Bitterroot||Lewisia rediviva||1894||Dried bitterroot roots can be used as nutritional supplements when food is scarce.|
|Nebraska||Giant goldenrod||Solidago gigantea||1895||While some people claim goldenrod causes allergies, its pollen is too heavy for the wind to carry.|
|Nevada||Sagebrush||Artemisia tridentata||1967||Sagebrush is used to make many items including tea, ropes, and blankets.|
|New Hampshire||Purple lilac||Syringa vulgaris||1919||While lilacs can be found throughout New Hampshire, they were introduced from Europe.|
|New Jersey||Purple violet||Viola sororia||1971||Violet seeds are contained in a capsule that explodes to release the seeds.|
|New Mexico||Yucca flower||Yucca spp.||1927||Yucca flowers are pollinated by yucca moths.|
|New York||Rose||Rosa spp.||1955||The fruit of the rose, a rosehip, is high in vitamin C. So call on these New York flowers when you’re feeling like you need a boost.|
|North Carolina||Flowering dogwood||Cornus florida||1941||The dogwood signals the arrival of spring, as noted by the numerous North Carolina dogwood festivals held in April.|
|North Dakota||Wild prairie rose||Rosa blanda||1907||The first class of the University of North Dakota relied on the prairie rose for inspiration regarding the school’s colors.|
|Ohio||Scarlet carnation||Dianthus caryophyllus||1953||The scarlet carnation honors assassinated Ohioan President William McKinley.|
|Oklahoma||Oklahoma rose||Rosa ‘Oklahoma’||2004||The Oklahoma rose is one of the most fragrant tea roses.|
|Oregon||Oregon grape||Mahonia aquifolium||1899||The inner bark of the Oregon grape can be used to produce a yellow dye that resembles the plant’s bright flowers.|
|Pennsylvania||Mountain laurel||Kalmia latifolia||1933||The Laurel Highlands region of PA is named after this flowering shrub.|
|Rhode Island||Violet||Viola spp.||1968||Not all violets are purple; they come in shades including white and yellow.|
|South Carolina||Yellow jessamine||Gelsemium sempervirens||1924||This yellow flower blooms in late winter signaling that spring is on its way.|
|South Dakota||Pasque flower||Pulsatilla hirsutissima||1903||This plant is toxic upon ingestion, but herbalists have used it to create medicinal products.|
|Tennessee||Iris||Iris spp.||1933||Before the iris was chosen as a state flower, Tennessee children chose the passionflower as a state symbol.|
|Texas||Bluebonnet||Lupinus spp.||1901||In the 1930s the Texas highway department undertook an effort to spread bluebonnets throughout the state. Therefore, they are one of the most recognizable flowers in Dallas and other Texas cities.|
|Utah||Sego lily||1911||1959||Native Americans ate the sego lily’s roots. They passed their knowledge about the plant to the Mormons who entered Utah.|
|Vermont||Red clover||Trifolium pratense||1894||Red clover is grown throughout Vermont as both animal feed and a ground cover.|
|Virginia||American dogwood||Cornus florida||1918||The wood of the dogwood tree is very strong, which makes it prized for items like tool handles and arrows.|
|Washington||Coast rhododendron||Rhododendron macrophyllum||1892||Washington women selected the coast rhododendron to represent the state at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago.|
|West Virginia||Great rhododendron||Rhododendron maximum||1903||All parts of the great rhododendron are extremely toxic to humans upon ingestion.|
|Wisconsin||Wood violet||Viola papilionacea||1909||The small but beautiful wood violet is found across Wisconsin fields and forests.|
|Wyoming||Indian paintbrush||Castilleja linariaefolia||1917||Indian paintbrushes are hemiparasitic which means they can steal nutrients from other plants.|