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The state flower of Arkansas is the apple blossom. Also known as the pyrus coronaria and the American crab apple, the state officially adopted the flower in 1901. Arkansas chose the apple blossom as its state flower due to the high production of apples that occurred during the early 20th century.
Initial opposition almost prevented the apple blossom from becoming the official state flower of Arkansas. Due to religious concerns that the fruit represented Adam and Eve's fall from grace in the Garden of Eden, the passionflower almost won out. Love Barton, a prominent female socialite, defended the case for the selection of the apple blossom. She wrote an article and submitted it to one of the major newspapers that highlighted the apple as one of the state's major cash crops.
As the official state flower of Arkansas, the apple blossom represents the state's rich agricultural history. Prior to 1927, Arkansas was one of the main contributors to America's production of apples. At the time of the flower's adoption, Arkansas produced over 400 different types of apples. Towards 1927, fruit crop disease and several bouts with extreme frost wiped out much of the state's apple crop and farms.
Modern day Arkansas still produces a large volume of apples, even though the volume is nowhere near its heyday. Legislators chose to keep the apple blossom as the state flower of Arkansas and celebrate its history through several local festivals. Several cities across the state celebrate the apple blossom by continuing to grow the fruit in small orchards. The city of Lincoln hosts an annual festival that pays homage to the state's history as a top apple producer.
Most of the state's apple production is shipped to grocery stores that feature fresh produce. Only 5 percent of the state's crop is used by food manufacturers for processing. As of 2003, Arkansas still had approximately 900 acres of active apple orchards.
The appearance of the apple blossom is both aesthetically appealing and delicate. Petals that are pink and white in color are one of the defining characteristics of the state flower of Arkansas. Besides pink and white petals, the flower features green leaves that gather in clusters. The petals give off a pleasant scent that resembles that of a honeysuckle, which tends to attract an ample supply of bees.
As the flower grows and matures, the fruit of the apple trees materializes. Some residents of Arkansas enjoy picking and eating the apples straight from the trees. In addition to the perennial favorites of apple pie and applesauce, the fruit is also used to make apple butter and jelly.