Flowers Across America: A Visual Guide to Each State's Official Emblematic Flower
Every state has its official designations—a state flower, fish, bird, and flag. You might be surprised to learn that a state can have as many designations as they see fit. Massachusetts holds the record of 44, with its own cookie (chocolate chip), sport (basketball), inventor (Benjamin Franklin), and drink (cranberry juice). While not all states go this hog wild with the emblems, every single one has its own flower. State blooms are chosen for a variety of reasons: being endemic to the region, being a sign of industry, or being considered representative of the state's personality chiefly among them.
We have civic engagement to thank for state emblems. Following a thorough amount of research, a group of citizens, organizations, or even students requests a bill for a particular emblem. The bill goes through the state legislature and, if approved, the state symbol becomes official. Some state flowers have been designated since the 19th Century, including red clover in Vermont (1894), coast rhododendron in Washington (1892), and bitterroot in Montana (1895). In several instances, states have both an official flower and wildflower. Mississippi is one such example, with magnolia as the state flower and tickseed as the state wildflower; Pennsylvania is another, with Mountain laurel as the state flower and Penngift crownvetch as its wildflower.
State flowers show off a wide range of beauty around the country. You'll find blossoms on giant trees, small alpine blooms, perennial mainstays, and ephemeral annuals. Seen together, they represent the richness in difference and diversity. Click through to find your state flower and enjoy the others.
Designated in 1959 (replacing the goldenrod), these winter bloomers are also known as winter roses. Though they're native to China, Korea, Taiwan, and Japan, camellia (Camellia japonica) is widely cultivated in the Southeast.
Alaska: Alpine Forget-Me-Not
Chosen as the state flower in 1917, the super sweet alpine forget-me-not (Myosotis alpestris) can be found throughout the state, growing in open, rocky places. A horticultural gem, it's among the few true-blue flowers that you can grow.
Arizona: Saguaro Cactus Blossom
Giant saguaro cactus (Carnegiea gigantea) are indigenous to Arizona (and the rest of the Sonoran desert), so it makes perfect sense that their blossom was chosen as the state flower in 1931. Saguaro are extremely slow growing—an "arm" doesn't form until it's 75 years old! But their blooms are fleeting, lasting less than 24 hours.
Arkansas: Apple Blossom
Designated in 1901, when Arkansas was previously a big apple-producing region, apple blossom (Malus domestica) serves as this state's flower. The designation came after a "battle of the blooms," in which two women's clubs battled it out between passion flower and the apple blossom.
California: California Poppy
The California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) grows wild throughout the state, which is one of the many reasons why it was chosen as the Golden State's emblematic bloom in 1903. Native Americans in the region valued the plant as a food source and for the oil they extracted.
Colorado: Rocky Mountain Columbine
After winning the vote of Colorado school children, Rocky Mountain columbine (Aquilegia caerulea) became the official state flower in 1899. The white and lavender blooms with yellow centers are deeply attractive to bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
Connecticut: Mountain Laurel
Connecticut chose Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) as the official state flower in 1907, sharing the designation with Pennsylvania. Star-shaped white and pink flowers grow on this evergreen shrub native to the eastern United States.
Delaware: Peach Blossom
These days, Delaware might not be top of mind when you think of peaches, but there were more than 800,000 peach trees in orchards when the state made designated the peach blossom (Prunus persica) as the state's emblematic bloom in 1895. Bright pink peach blossoms cover branches in spring, followed by leaves, and eventually—the best part!—fruit.
Florida: Orange Blossom
Orange blossoms (Citrus sinensis) were selected as this state's flower in 1909, which makes sense given the fact that orange trees are a crucial component of industry in Florida, producing the vast majority of citrus for the country. Though most of the oranges in Florida end up in juice, the blossoms shouldn't be overlooked for their absolutely divine smell.
Georgia: Cherokee Rose
Several women's clubs worked together to designate the Cherokee rose (Rosa laevigata) as Georgia's state flower in 1916. The white, waxy flower with a large, golden center is surrounded by vivid green leaves. The hard plant, full of thorns, blooms in early spring, and occasionally again in fall. The petals and hips have been widely used for medicinal purposes since ancient times.
Hawaii: Yellow Hibiscus
Found only in Hawaii and considered very rare, the yellow hibiscus (Hibiscus brackenridgei), known as Pua Aloalo on the Islands, became the state flower in 1988. Additionally, each of the Islands has its own designated flower intended for use in leis.
Sometimes called mock orange, Syringa (Philadelphus lewisii) became the state flower of Idaho in 1931. The woody shrub has wonderfully fragrant flowers that line branches in spring.
Another choice by schoolchildren, the common blue violet (Viola sororia) became the state flower of Illinois in 1908. You can find them growing on the prairie, woods, and wetlands.
Designated in 1957 as Indiana's state flower—a change from zinnia, which had been chosen in 1931—the peony (Paeonia) is one of the most celebrated ornamental flowers across the country. Curiously, no color was chosen in this particular designation.
Iowa: Wild Prairie Rose
The wild prairie rose (Rosa arkansana) was chosen as the state flower of Iowa way back in 1897. Fun fact: North Dakota designated the same bloom as their emblematic flower.
Known as the Sunflower State, it should come as no surprise that Kansas chose a classic sunflower (Helianthus) for its emblem in 1903. Reaching up to 15 feet tall, a single plant can produce upwards of 1,000 seeds.
Kentucky chose goldenrod (Solidago gigantea) as its state flower in 1926. There's a good reason why: Thirty distinct species can be found growing in the state. Goldenrod is much beloved across the country, also being the state flower of Nebraska and the state wildflower of South Carolina.
The large, iconic, white magnolia flowers (Magnolia grandiflora) were chosen by the state of Louisiana in 1900. Find the blossoms nestled between large, leathery leaves. Magnolias go by many names, including southern magnolia, evergreen magnolia, bull-bay, big-laurel, little gem, and large-flower magnolia.
Maine: White Pine Cone and Tassel
The residents of Maine voted between goldenrod, apple blossom, and the pine cone and tassel (Pinus strobus, linnaeus), and residents selected the latter as their state flower in 1895. Though not technically flowers (pine trees are non-flowering plants—they form cones instead), it only makes sense as Maine is nicknamed the Pine Tree State.
Maryland: Black-Eyed Susan
This daisy-like wildflower, found along fields and roadsides, was chosen as Maryland's state bloom in 1918. Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), a sunflower-relative, matches the state bird (Baltimore oriole), state insect (Baltimore checkerspot butterfly), and state cat (calico) in terms of color. Talk about a theme!
Small in stature, but packing a big fragrance, the mayflower (Epigaea repens) has been the state flower of Massachusetts since 1918. Also called ground laurel or trailing arbutus, it's been on the endangered list since 1925.
Michigan: Apple Blossom
Sharing the same flower with Arkansas, the apple blossom was chosen by Michigan in 1897. At least one species, Pyrus coronaria, is native to the state.
Minnesota: Showy Lady Slipper
Though the showy lady slipper orchid (Cypripedium reginae) officially became Minnesota's state flower in 1967, it was considered an emblematic bloom of the region long before that. Lady slippers live up to 50 years but take as many as 16 years to make their first flower. The terrestrial orchid is native to northern North America and has been on the endangered list since 1925.
Like Louisiana, its neighbor to the west, Mississippi, also dons magnolia as its state flower. Chosen in 1952 by schoolchildren of the state, magnolia beat out a cotton blossom and cape jasmine.
Chosen as Missouri's state flower in 1923, the white hawthorn blossom (Crataegus punctata), which is found on a woody plant that grows up to 20 feet tall, is a relative of the rose. After the flowers bloom, small apple-like fruits appear that are often collected to make jam.
itterroot (Lewisia rediviva), which was designated as Montana's state flower in 1895, can be found growing through the plains and foothills in western and south central regions of the states. The purplish-pink flowers are found all spring and summer.
Also the state flower of Kentucky (and the wildflower of South Carolina), Nebraska chose goldenrod as its own state emblem in 1895. The bright yellow flower is rumored to best represent the hardiness of Nebraska pioneers.