Monday, February 23, 2009

In a State over Flowers

Everyone is familiar with the State Flower of their particular home state. But how many know why we have state flowers, and how they came to be? There are some interesting stories behind the selections.

North Carolina's State Flower, the Dogwood, was designated in 1941. The reason for it's selection is simple: it is one of the most prevalent trees and can be found in all parts of the state, from the coast to the mountains. Dogwood's early spring blossoms are most often found in white, although shades of pink and red are not uncommon.

My home state of Maine is unusual in that it's 'flower" is the White Pine cone and tassel, technically a gymnosperm, meaning plant with a cone, and therefore not a flower! It was chosen in 1894 after officials saw the cone in a floral emblem at the World's Fair. However, Maine also has an unofficial state flower in the beautiful blue Lupine. I love seeing the rolling fields covered in their blue blossoms in June.

Washington state's flower came into being when it allowed women (and not men) to vote on which would be their choice. They selected the coast rhododendron, and shortly thereafter began Washington's suffragette movement.

My previous adopted home state of Vermont's flower is the Red Clover, designated in 1894. Though a common sight in Vermont's scenic countryside and cultivated hay fields, Trifolium pratense is not a native of Vermont but was naturalized from Europe.

The Purple Lilac is representative of New Hampshire's hardy character. In May the scent of this hardy flowering tree is unforgettable, and a much-needed reminder that summer is on the way. It was first imported from England in 1750.

The hibiscus, all colors and varieties, was the official Territorial Flower of Hawaii, adopted in the early 1920s. At statehood in 1959, the first state legislature adopted many of Hawaii's symbols as part of the Hawaii Revised Statutes. But it wasn't until 1988 that the native yellow hibiscus was selected to represent Hawaii. You may find older postcards that show red or other colored hibiscus for that reason.

Do you know the story behind your home state's Official Flower?

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