Pennsylvania State Flower
Adoption of the Pennsylvania State Flower
In 1927, a body of support, initiated at Pennsylvania State College, developed to encourage the Pennsylvania General Assembly to adopt the tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera L.) and the flower of the tulip tree as Pennsylvania's official state tree and flower respectively. The prepared arguments read:
The legislation was considered at length in the halls of the state capital in Harrisburg but in the end, no action was taken. When the General Assembly adjourned, Pennsylvania was still without a state tree or a state flower.
Several years later, in 1931, a movement to adopt a state tree gained enough momentum to officially name the eastern hemlock (Tsunga canadensis L.) as the state tree of Pennsylvania. Still, the commonwealth was left without a state flower.
Eager to adopt an official state flower, many Pennsylvanians began to line up in support of the pink azalea or the mountain laurel. Supporters of both flowers were vocal and adamant. In fact, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, unable to reach agreement decided to defer to the Governor of the state. The House approved two bills, one supporting the honeysuckle and the other in support of the mountain laurel. Both were forwarded to the Senate where, again, two bills and two state flowers were approved. The adopted bills were then forwarded to the Governor for his signature.
Governor Gifford Pinchot, often referred to as our nation's first professionally trained forester, was no stranger to these beautiful flowers and may have been a little irritated when put in the position to decide the matter for the Pennsylvania Legislature.
The story goes that Governor Pinchot preferred the pink azalea, but that he left it to his wife to make the decision. Undoubtedly, she had at least a little influence on the Governor, for on May 5, 1933, Governor Gifford Pinchot signed legislation making the mountain laurel the official State flower of Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Statutes
The following information is excerpted from Thomas E. Martin, Jr., Esq.'s Unconsolidated Pennsylvania Statutes, Title 71.
State Government (Title 71)
The mountain laurel (Kalmia Latifolia) is hereby adopted as the State flower of Pennsylvania.
Mountain Laurel, Pennsylvania's State Flower: All about the Mountain Laurel from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Kalmia latifolia (Mountain Laurel): Plant Encyclopedia from MyGardenGuide.
Kalmia latifolia: University of Connecticut Plant Database of Trees, Shrubs and Vines.
Mountain Laurel (Ericaceae Kalmia latifolia L.): Tree Identification Fact Sheet from the Virginia Tech.
Plant Profile for Kalmia latifolia (Mountain Laurel): USDA, NRCS. 2004. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5 (http://plants.usda.gov). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.
State Flower List: List of all of the state flowers.
Pennsylvania State Laurel Festival: About the Pennsylvania State Laurel Festival held in June, in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania.
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: Unconsolidated Pennsylvania Statues: Thomas E. Martin Jr., Esq., (http://members.aol.com/StatutesPA/Index.html), August 31, 2005
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