I recently came across a list of all the state flowers, wild flowers, and floral emblems. It is interesting to note that there is variation among the states in the way they have officially designated flowers to represent them. Some states designate an official state flower.  Some states designate an official state floral emblem. Some states have also designated wildflowers and one state has designated an official cultivated flower. A few states have a state shrub. Then I got to wondering, which ones will grow in Nebraska. This is the result.

          Oklahoma was the first state to declare its state flower in 1893. The MISTLETOE (Phoradendron leucarpum) was called a state floral emblem.  In 2004, Oklahoma was also the last state to designate an official state flower when it made the OKLAHOMA ROSE their official flower. In between they named the Indian Blanket (Gaillardia pulekella) as the state wild flower. INDIAN BLANKET grows well in Nebraska as a wild flower along with several cultivated species. They are short, bright colored mainly in yellow, red, and orange.  Gaillardia is a short lived perennial but produces seeds.  I have “Goblin”, oranges, and lemons on the parkway only about 18 inches high but almost 2 feet wide.

          South Carolina was about as late as Oklahoma. Their state flower has been the yellow JESSAMINE (Gelsemium sempervirens) since 1924. (Sometimes it is spelled JASMINE and is not hardy here.) In 2003 they designated the GOLDENROD (Solidago) as their official wild flower. Goldenrods of all shapes and sizes like it in Nebraska. The variety Solidago gigantea is our state flower. Most have coarse leaves and tend to take over any territory. They do well in poor soil that is well drained.  Dr. Bessey from the University of Nebraska asked the legislature to adopt the giant goldenrod, which can grow as tall as six feet. They bloom here in August and September and do not cause hay fever. (Ragweed is the villain and blooms at the same time.) I have a dwarf one that only grows 18 inches high.  The hybrids are not as invasive as our wild flowers. GOLDENROD is also the state flower of Kentucky.

          A number of states have chosen tree blossoms for their state flower.  Arkansas and Michigan chose the APPLE BLOSSOM, (Pyrus coronaria), Delaware the PEACH (Prunus persica), Florida the ORANGE (Citrus sinensis), Missouri the Hawthorne (Crataegus) and North Carolina and Virginia the DOGWOOD (Cornus florida). All of these can be grown in Nebraska but take care if you choose an apple or a Hawthorne that you choose a disease resistant variety. There are several NebGuides you can get from your County Extension office listing disease resistant varieties.

            One state lists a state flower that is not a flower at all. Maine has designated the WHITE PINE cone and tassel (Pinus strobus, Linnaeus) as its state flower. Botanically, these are not considered flowers since gymnosperms do not have true flowers. The reproductive structures of pines are known as strobili. You could accurately say that Maine is the only state to have an official state strobilae.

          Connecticut and Pennsylvania have a shrub, the MOUNTAIN LAUREL (Kalmia latifolia) that I have tried to grow several times but with no success. It needs moist, acidic soil, and partial shade. Each year it always grew smaller instead of larger. Idaho has a shrub, the MOCK ORANGE (Philadelphis lewisii), and Georgia the AZALEA. Alabama named the Camellia as its state flower in 1959 and added OAK LEAF HYDRANGEA (Hydrangea quercifolia) as state wild flower in 1999. There are many Oak Leafs in Lincoln. They prefer acid soil with shade or partial shade.  If in the sun they need protection from wind.  They like humus in their soil, and damp but not wet feet.

          Tennessee has a state wild flower, the PASSION FLOWER, as well as a state cultivated flower, the IRIS (Iris germanica), so you can easily have their flowers. Louisiana has the Louisiana IRIS as their wild flower with the MAGNOLIA as their flower. Mississippi also claims the MAGNOLIA. Alaska has the wild native FORGET ME NOT (Myosotis alpestris) as both the state flower and the state emblem. Myosotis alpestris is a short lived clumping perennial 8 inches by 6 inches that seeds easily.  It is listed as zones 4-8. I have a clump that does well as long as it is cool but slowly fades in the heat.

          Two of the ones that will not do well here without a greenhouse are Arizona’s GIANT SAGUARO CACTUS (Carnegiea gigantea) and Hawaii’s native yellow HIBISCUS (Hibiscus brackenridgei) as well as Georgia’s CHEROKEE ROSE (zone 7-9). New York claims the ROSE, North Dakota and Iowa the WILD PRAIRIE ROSE, both of which grow in Nebraska.

          The blue and white COLUMBINE of Colorado (Aquilegia caerules) is one of my favorites so I try to keep them in the yard but it doesn’t compete well with the CANADIAN COLUMBINE.  Since I have several colors in a patch, the other colors, especially the yellow, seems to predominate as they cross pollinate easily.  The plants are short lived perennials that prefer light shade and damp soil.  They are commonly plagued with leaf borers which do not harm them a great deal. Every spring I need to thin the patch out so it doesn’t smother itself out.

          I have had the CALIFORNIA POPPY (Eschscholzia californica) several times from seed, but it has never reproduced itself. This year I put out seeds of SHIRLEY POPPY (Papaver rhoes). It is also called corn, field, or Flanders poppy. It is about 2 feet tall withy yellow, pink, white, orange and red dainty flowers about 2 inches across. There are many seed pods I am cutting off and dropping to hope for a new crop next spring. They are in the parkway as they like the hot and dry.

          All of us know that the SUNFLOWER (Helianthus annrums) is the state flower of Kansas and is a native wild flower. It is considered a weed by some and can grow 15 feel tall and 24 inches across. From this plant many new varieties have been developed. There are SUNFLOWERS from 6 inches high to the great tall ones.  There are whites, reds, and yellows. Some farms grow nothing but sunflowers and they have become a favorite snack for people, squirrels, and birds.

          For more information go to and type in “State Flower”. You will get many web sites. Check out the web site of the United States National Arboretum which lists official state trees as well as flowers. ( It gives the state, the name of the tree or flower, the Latin name, and the year of Legislation.

Copyright 2006