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What is a State Flower?

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  • Written By: Alyssa Simon
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Images By: Vera Kuttelvaserova, Anna, Ivelle, n/a
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2016
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A state flower is a flower chosen to represent a state in the United States. The chosen flower is usually native to the state or represents the state's history or economy. For example, the Florida state flower is the orange blossom. It is not native to Florida, but it represents the state's main export, citrus.

Not all state flowers are actually flowers. Maine's state flower is the white pine cone, selected in 1894. Some states have more than one representative flower. Oklahoma has three official state flowers; the Oklahoma hybrid tea rose, which is the state flower, a state wildflower called an Indian blanket, and mistletoe, the state floral emblem.

Texas has five state flowers, all of them various types of flowers called bluebonnets. Bluebonnets are considered native to Texas, though some think they were brought from Spain. The Texas Legislature of 1901 was not able to decide which type of bluebonnet should be the official state flower. Senator John Garner, later President Franklin Roosevelt's vice-president from 1932-1940, earned the nickname Cactus Jack for advocating cactus blossoms as Texas' state flower. Seventy years later, legislation was passed to include all Texan variety of bluebonnets as the official floral emblem.

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There are some state flowers chosen to symbolize the character of a state's people. The purple lilac was chosen as New Hampshire's state flower in 1919 because it is a hardy flower, and the state's residents are considered similarly. Other flowers are selected to honor one individual. The buckeye tree blossom was the original floral emblem of Ohio, but the Ohio General Assembly chose the red carnation to replace it in 1904. The flower was selected to honor the memory of Ohioan native President William Mckinley, who was assassinated in 1901 and known for wearing the flower in his jacket's lapel.

In 1892, the women of Washington State and Montana were encouraged to vote for their state flower before they were allowed to cast ballots in state or national elections. Over 15,000 went to the polls. It is thought to be one of the events that helped inspire the women's suffrage movement for the right to vote. Women's clubs also used their lobbying efforts to advocate for certain state flowers. In 1916, the Federation of Women's Clubs successfully petitioned the Georgia Senate to make the Cherokee rose the state's flower.

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