National/State Flowers of America (Part 2)

Sep 6


Timothy Spencer

Timothy Spencer

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Having the moniker of being” the most powerful nation on the planet”, the US becomes fodder over many coffee conversations. Shying away from topics of their military and economic might, this article tackles a softer side of Northern America. This discusses flower favorites as a nation and as separate states.

Delaware was also known as the “Peach State” since it was the biggest Peach supplier in the 1870’s. A strong movement nominated the common Goldenrod,National/State Flowers of America (Part 2) Articles (also Alabama’s first choice) as its representative. But how could this flower represent the Peach State? With reason winning over the day, due recognition was given the Peach tree and soon made the Peach Blossom the Floral Emblem and eventually the State Flower by 1953.

Early Spanish settlers in Florida referred to the state of the “Land of Flowers.” There seemingly was a large pool of blooming choices. But it might be reasoned out that just like Delaware, which honored its prevalent industry, perhaps the Floridians also thought it best to have the Orange Blossom as its final choice.

Georgia’s Floral Emblem is the Cherokee Rose. Apparently there are many kinds and varieties of roses. This was referred to as indigenous to its soil even though its origin was traced back to China.

Sun-kissed Hawaii is well known for the imagery of the Native Yellow Hibiscus to represent the state. To us, this is also known as the “Gumamela” and is almost always seen as a hair ornament for Hula dancers and greeters from many movies, TV shows and international Adverts. Between 1912 and 1923, locals had a beautification drive which eventually led to this enactment for the Hibiscus.

Idaho’s choice stemmed from an art contest in 1890 for the design of the State Seal. A transplanted New Yorker won the US$ 100 reward with a design using the local Syringa  “Philadelphus lewisii”. Her design came along with the description "The state flower, the wild Syringa or Mock Orange, grows at the woman's feet, while the ripened wheat grows as high as her shoulder."

A lot of credit is paid to the 1893 World Exposition that was held in Chicago for spurring a great interest in selecting State Flowers. Citizens of Illinois held elections for this and the top three choices were the persistent Goldenrod, the Wild Rose and the Native Violet. The Violet won handily and was soon sponsored by the state Senator as its official representative by 1908.

Moving over to Indiana, its choices for the state flower was long clouded in controversy.  The Peony has held on its position for 50 years but a trail of other choices such as the carnation, tulip tree blossom, zinnia, and the dogwood colored its history.  Apparently, choice was seen as very important over all these years.

The Wild Rose is the choice of Iowa State. It took an Extra Session of its 1897 General Assembly and a poem by an Army Major to pass the bill.  The poem goes:

[Copyright applied for by S. H. M. Byers.]

    Hast seen the wild rose of the West,
        The sweetest child of morn ?
    Its feet the dewy fields have pressed,
         Its breath is on the corn.

    The gladsome prairie rolls and sweeps
        Like billows to the sea,
    While on its breast the red rose keeps
        The white rose company.

    The wild, wild rose whose fragrance dear
       To every breeze is flung,
    The same wild rose that blossomed here
        When Iowa was young.

    O, sons of heroes ever wear
        The wild rose on your shield,
    No other flower is half so fair
       In loves immortal field.

    Let others sing of mountain snows,
        Or palms beside the sea,
    The state whose emblem is the rose
        Is fairest far to me.