Utah’s state flower is the sego lily. School children in the state voted for the flower as their choice for the state floral emblem, and it was adopted as Utah’s state flower on 18 March 1911. Native to the western part of the United States, the sego lily is prominent in the Great Basin and the open grasslands of the state. The sego lily was primarily selected as Utah’s state flower for its historical significance and natural beauty.
In the middle 19th century, a plaque of crickets devoured the crops in the area, leaving families to ration food supplies. At this time, Utah pioneers learned about the edible properties of the sego lily. Taking a cue from the Native Americans who had been consuming the sego lily roots for years, the bulbous roots were dug up and consumed, saving many families from near starvation. This historical fact was not forgotten when Utah’s state flower was selected.
The sego lily blooms in early to mid-summer across the western portion of the United States. Throughout Utah, it can be spotted in the open meadows and sage rangelands of the Great Basin. Utah’s state flower features three white petals tinged with lilac. A deep purple band outlines the yellow base of the flower, and one to four blossoms generally grow on a single stem with linear leaves. Plants generally grow to a height of about 6 to 18 inches (approximately 15 to 45 centimeters).
Utah’s state flower is also a native of a number of other western states, though Utah is the only one that claims it as a floral emblem. Sego lilies are also prominent in the states of Nevada, South Dakota, North Dakota, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. The flower is also commonly referred to as the mariposa lily.
Other state emblems of Utah include California Gull as the state bird, the Blue Spruce as the state tree, and the Rocky Mountain Elk as the state animal. “The Beehive state,” as Utah is fondly referred to, is well-known for its production of honey. The honeybee is the state insect, and the beehive was chosen as Utah’s state emblem. Utah claims the beehive cluster as the astronomical symbol of the state. The state song is, “Utah, this is the Place,” and "Utah we Love Thee” was selected as the hymn to represent the state.