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.
Nicknamed The Sagebrush State, it should come as no surprise that Nevada chose sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) as its state flower in 1917. The silvery shrub has yellow and white flowers that bloom in late summer.
New Hampshire: Purple Lilac
Selected as New Hampshire's state flower in 1919, purple lilac (Syringa vulgaris) won out over other contenders: apple blossom, purple aster, wood lily, mayflower, goldenrod, wild pasture rose, evening primrose, and buttercup. Native to Europe and Asia, lilacs were brought to American in the 1750's in America, and were included in the gardens of both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
New Jersey: Purple Violet
New Jersey chose the violet as its state flower in 1913, though it wasn't until 1971 that the bill was officially passed. Specifically, New Jersey holds the common meadow violet (Viola sororia) as its emblem, which makes sense given the fact that the bluish-purple flowers dot lawns, fields, and meadows in the spring.
New Mexico: Yucca
Chosen by schoolchildren, yucca (Yucca filamentosa) became New Mexico's official state flower in 1927. These perennial shrubs have sword-like leaves and are topped with off-white flowers, pollinated by moths.
New York: Rose
A rose of any color was chosen as the state emblem of New York in 1955. The rose (Rosa) is also the national flower of the United States as a whole.
North Carolina: Dogwood
North Carolina opted for the white flowers of the dogwood tree (Cornus florida) to be its state flower in 1941. It's found all over the state and blooms in late winter or early spring.
North Dakota: Wild Prairie Rose
Sharing this designation with Iowa, North Dakota chose the wild prairie rose as its state flower in 1907. The rose is found growing all over the state and can be recognized by its bright pink petals and yellow center.
Ohio: Scarlet Carnation
Ohio chose the scarlet carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus) as its state flower in 1904 to honor its hometown president, William McKinley, who was assassinated in 1901. As the stories go, President McKinley liked wearing the flower pinned to his jackets.
Chosen in 1893 as an official territorial flower (before statehood!), mistletoe (Viscum album) grows throughout the state. Careful, gardeners: Mistletoe is parasitic to whatever tree it grows on, so keep to smooching under it but not planting it.
Oregon: Oregon Grape
Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium), which is also called holly-leaved barberry or mahonia, Oregon adopted this flower as its own in 1899. Makes sense, as the shrub is native to much of the state. Its waxy green leaves are topped with yellow flowers in summer and dark blue berries that ripens by fall. Don't get too excited—the berries are bitter and full of seeds but are sometimes used in jam.
Pennsylvania: Mountain Laurel
Sharing with its neighbor, Connecticut, Pennsylvania adopted Mountain laurel as its state flower in 1933. The evergreen shrub grows throughout the eastern US and is also called ivy bush, calico bush, sheep laurel, lambkill, clamoun, and spoonwood.
Rhode Island: Violet
Though school kids chose the flower in 1897, violets didn't become the official state flower of Rhode Island until 1968. The state shares the flower with Illinois and New Jersey.
South Carolina: Carolina Yellow Jessamine
Chosen as the state flower of South Carolina in 1924, this evergreen flowering vine is found all over the state. Though the fragrance is sweet, beware: All parts of Carolina yellow jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) are poisonous.
South Dakota: American Pasque Flower
South Dakota chose American pasque flower (Pulsatilla hirsutissima), a tall grass prairie flower, as the emblematic state bloom in 1902. Also called prairie crocus, wind flower, Easter flower, and meadow anemone, the flower is a lovely lavender hue and among the first to bloom in spring.
It's a little tricky with Tennessee. They originally chose passion flower as their state emblem in 1933, but changed things up in 1973, when they swapped in iris (Iris germanica) as the "state cultivated flower," and bumped passionflower to "state wildflower." But they weren't done yet—they adopted coneflowers as their second state wildflower in 2012. Though the legislation doesn't mention a particular variety, purple iris is widely accepted as being "the one."
Texans are crazy about this flower with sunbonnet-shaped petals, so it's not surprising that legislators designated bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis) as their state bloom in 1901. There are many species of lupine, and Texas recognizes any growing in the state as its official flower.
Utah: Sego Lily
Sego lily (Calochortus nuttallii), which was chosen as Utah's state flower in 1911, is an early summer bloomer that grows in the state's Great Basin. Also called mariposa lily, its native to many western states, including Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico.
Vermont: Red Clover
Chosen as Vermont's state flower in 1984, red clover (Trifolium pratense) found its way stateside by English colonists. Look for the bright red blooms in the state's hayfields, alongside highways, and next to other farmland.
Virginia: American Dogwood
American dogwood flowers were designated as Virginia's state flower in 1918, which means it shares its flower with North Carolina. The small, deciduous tree bursts into bloom with large, showy flowers in late winter or early spring.
Washington: Coast Rhododendron
Officially designated as Washington's emblematic bloom in 1959, coast rhododendron (Rhododendron macrophyllum) had actually been chosen in 1892 for the 1893 World's Fair that was held in Chicago. It's a most excellent choice, as the plant is native to the Pacific Northwest.
West Virginia: Rhododendron
Another species of rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum) was chosen as the state flower of West Virginia in 1903, beating out honeysuckle and wild roses. This particular species has large white flowers.
Wisconsin: Wood Violet
Schoolchildren voted for Wisconsin's state flower in 1909, and the winner was the wood violet (Viola sororia), a bloom native to eastern North America. It's blue petals and slender stem resemble the return of spring after a long winter.
Wyoming: Indian Paintbrush
Indian paintbrush (Castilleja linariaefolia) was chosen as Wyoming's state flower in 1917. These plants, also called prairie fire, are native to the western Americas, from Alaska to the Andes. The species selected by Wyoming can be found growing in both the state's rocky slopes and its arid plains.