Mississippi State Flower
Adoption of the Mississippi State Flower
Perhaps inspired by the adoption of a National Garland of Flowers for the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago (World's Columbian Exposition), the "flower or bloom" of the magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) wasn't adopted as Mississippi's state flower until 1952.
The idea for a state flower originated around the turn of the century. In an effort to select an appropriate floral emblem to represent the state, it was determined that the process would be put to a vote of Mississippi school children. The flower election took place in November 1900.
It's recorded that 23,278 children voted and that the magnolia blossom received over half of these votes. The cotton blossom, promoted by the Mississippi Federation of Women's Clubs, placed second and the cape jasmine placed third. Other flowers, including yellow jasmine, received votes as well; a total of 42 varieties received votes.
No legislative action was taken as a result of the contest however and though the magnolia blossom was generally considered the state flower by the citizens of the state, it was never made official.
Thirty-five years later, Mississippi's Director of Forestry, initiated a movement to adopt an official state tree to represent the state. Four nominations were offered to the state's school children; the magnolia; oak; pine; and dogwood. Again, the magnolia proved an overwhelming favorite of the children and it won this contest hands down.
On April 1, 1938, the Mississippi Legislature officially approved the magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) as the state tree of Mississippi.
Still, the state had no official state flower. The adoption of the magnolia blossom was to wait for another 14 years.
Finally, on February 26, 1952, the "flower or bloom" of the magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) was approved by the Mississippi Legislature; 52 years after it had been chosen by 12,745 Mississippi school children. One legislator, who shall remain nameless, voted against the adoption!
The Mississippi Code
The following information is excerpted from the Mississippi Code, Title 3, Chapter 3, Section 3-3-13.
TITLE 3. STATE SOVEREIGNTY, JURISTICTION AND HOLIDAYS.
The flower or bloom of the magnolia or evergreen magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora L.) is hereby designated as the state flower of Mississippi.
Sources: Codes, 1942, § 6192-02; Laws, 1952, ch. 340.
The Evolution of Magnolias: Personal site of Linda Saxon Nix. Great photo essay detailing the birth of the magnolia blossom and formation of seeds.
Magnolia (Magnolia Tree): Plant Encyclopedia from MyGardenGuide.
Magnolia grandiflora: University of Connecticut Plant Database of Trees, Shrubs and Vines.
Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora): Tree Identification Fact Sheet from the Virginia Tech.
Plant Profile for Magnolia grandiflora (Southern Magnolia): USDA, NRCS. 2004. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5 (http://plants.usda.gov). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.
Southern Magnolia: About the southern magnolia from TreeHelp.com.
State Flower List: List of all of the state flowers.
State Birds & Flowers 1000-pc Puzzle: Created at the request of The National Wildlife Federation this design is a beautiful and informative puzzle featuring every state bird perched on the appropriate state flower.
State Birds and Flowers Coloring Book by Annika Bernhard - 51 accurately detailed, copyright-free renderings include national bird (eagle) and flower (rose) plus 50 state birds and flowers.
U. S. State Flowers in Cross Stitch by Gerda Bengtsson - Botanically correct cross stitch designs of state flowers of the 50 States.
Quilting Flowers of the States by Sue Harvey - A lovely 12-inch flower block for each of the 50 states. Techniques used are piecing, appliqué, paper-piecing and three-dimensional techniques.
Plants, Seeds & Flowers: Bulbs, seeds, plants, fertilizer, plant containers and more.
Gardening Tools: Pruners, rakes, shovels, hoes, trowels, cultivators and tillers, greenhouses, yard carts and more.
State Names, Seals, Flags, and Symbols: A Historical Guide, Third Edition - Benjamin F. Shearer and Barbara S. Shearer, Greenwood Press, 2002
State Names, Flags, Seals, Songs, Birds, Flowers and Other Symbols: A Study based on historical documents giving the origin and significance of the state names, nicknames, mottoes, seals, flowers, birds, songs, and descriptive comments on the capitol buildings and on some of the leading state histories, Revised Edition - George Earlie Shankle, Ph.D., The H.W. Wilson Company, 1938 (Reprint Services Corp. 1971)
Source: Mississippi Code, (http://www.sos.state.ms.us/pubs/mscode/), July 28, 2005
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