Rhode Island State Flower
Adoption of the Rhode Island State Flower
Though the process was initiated way back in 1897 when Rhode Island school children selected the violet as their preference for a state flower, the violet was not officially adopted until 1968.
Generally, Rhode Island School Commissioner Thomas Stockwell is credited with organizing the first referendum for a state flower. Initial voting established a list of ten finalists, which were compiled on an official ballot that was circulated to Rhode Island's school children. The ten finalists were the arbutus, buttercup, daisy, goldenrod, lily, pansy, pink, rose, violet and water lily.
When the final votes were counted, the violet proved to be the most popular choice, receiving 10,013 votes. The second, third and fourth place finishers were the rose, pansy and pink.
The results were announced on Arbor Day in 1897.
As far as Rhode Island's school children were concerned, the state flower of Rhode Island was now the violet. The Rhode Island General Assembly never got around to making the children's choice official however.
Highlighting its status as the chosen state flower, in 1898 Commissioner Stockwell included the violet in an Arbor Day program for the Rhode Island public schools. Brown University Professor W. W. Bailey offered his expertise, specified and nominated the bird foot violet (Viola pedata) as the specific variety that should hold the honor of being the state's official flower.
Seventy years would pass before the General Assembly would approve an official state flower however.
In 1967, teacher and politician Francis Sherman decided that since every other state in the union had adopted an official state flower or floral emblem, it was about time Rhode Island do the same. He introduced a bill to make the violet (Viola palmata) the official flower of the state.
This time the Rhode Island General Assembly took action and on March 11, 1968, Rhode Island finally had a flower that could be called official.
On March 13, 2001, Senator V. Susan Sosnowski presented Senate Bill No. 0859 updating the state flower's Latin name from Viola palmata to Viola sororia. This bill was approved by the General Assembly in July 2001 and signed into law by Governor Lincoln Almond on July 31, 2001.
Three other states share the violet with Rhode Island:
State of Rhode Island General Laws
The following information is excerpted from the State of Rhode Island General Laws, Title 42, Chapter 42-4, Section 42-4-9.
TITLE 42. State Affairs and Government.
Viola sororia (Violet): Plant Encyclopedia from MyGardenGuide.
Plant Profile for Viola sororia (Common Blue Violet): 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.
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, appliqu?, 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: State of Rhode Island General Laws, (http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/Pages/Default.aspx/Statutes/Statutes.html), September 7, 2005
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