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Many people, if asked which state in the U.S. they think of as the Peach State, would respond that it is Georgia. Those same people might be surprised to learn that the state with the nickname the Peach State is actually Delaware, and the state flower of Delaware is the peach blossom. Delaware was once known for its abundant crop of peaches, which led to the nomination of the peach blossom as the state flower of Delaware back in 1895. The pronouncement has stayed with the state ever since.
Back in the 19th century, peaches constituted Delaware’s primary money-making crop. In fact, during the peak years of its peach production, the number of peach trees in Delaware numbered close to 900,000. In the early 1900s, Delaware's peach crop was hit by a blight that nearly destroyed it. Delaware’s peach industry never quite recovered from that devastating loss. Still, the peach blossom remains as the beloved state flower of Delaware.
The peach tree traveled a long way to produce the pretty blossom now known as the state flower of Delaware. The tree is actually native to China. Originally brought from China to Europe around 332 B.C., the tree found its way to America sometime in the 1500s.
Known more formerly as prunes persica, the peach tree itself has a dark gray bark and long, ribbed leaves. The trees average about 15 feet (approximately 4.6 m) in height but can grow up to 25 feet (about 7.6 m) if not pruned. Most peach farmers will prune their trees to about 10 feet (approximately 3 m) in order to produce the best peach crop.
Peach blossoms are light or dark pink in color, measuring approximately 1 inch (about 2.5 cm) around, usually with five petals. They are delicate, fragrant blossoms that can appear individually or in bunches in early spring and bear fruit in the summer. The fruit itself can range in size but is generally about 2 inches (about 5 cm) in diameter. It is covered with a soft fuzz and has a sweet, juicy flesh with a thick pit, or stone, at its center. Delaware’s climate with its warm spring, typically hot summer, and loose sandy soil, provides the ideal climate and conditions for growing peach trees.
At one time, the state flower of Delaware was almost named as goldenrod, but a petition to keep it as the peach blossom carried through. The peach blossom is considered by many to be the flower of romance. Some also consider it to be a sign of prosperity and good fortune. To most Delaware natives, however, it is a sentimental sign of a time when peaches brought prosperity and good fortune to their home state.