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West Virginia State Flower

Big Laurel Rhododendron maximum Adopted:1903
West Virginia State Flower: Big Laurel
West Virginia State Flower: Big Laurel
Photograph: The Dow Gardens Archive, Dow Gardens, Bugwood.org

Adoption of the West Virginia State Flower

West Virginia let eight years lapse after the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 without deciding on a flower or floral emblem to represent the state. Governor George Wesley Atkinson, near the end of his term in 1901, decided that it was time that West Virginia take action to declare an official floral emblem. "For a State Flower," he said, "I know none more beautiful and none more common in West Virginia, than the Rhododendron. It is found along most every vale and hillside, and is universally admired both for its beauty and fragrance."

This prompted others around the state to join the state flower campaign and numerous personal favorites were nominated as potential floral representatives of the state.

In 1902, the State Superintendent of Schools suggested that the question of a state flower be put to the students of the state. School children were frequently asked to become involved with the adoption of state flowers and today, students continue to take an active role in the designation of state symbols.

A statewide referendum was finalized on November 26, 1902 when students expressed an overwhelming preference for the rhododendron. Big laurel won more than half (19,000) of the 36,000 votes cast posting solid backing in all West Virginia counties with the exception of Ohio County, where the goldenrod was favored.

Following the landslide victory of big laurel, the flower was approved by the West Virginia Senate on January 23, 1903 and by the House on January 29, 1903 (House Joint Resolution No. 19).

Big laurel is also called great laurel, great rhododendron, rosebay, and rosebay rhododendron.

The Code of West Virginia

The big laurel was approved by joint resolution and is not recorded in the Code of West Virginia.

Additional Information

West Virginia State Flower: Big Laurel
West Virginia State Flower: Big Laurel
Photograph: The Dow Gardens Archive, Dow Gardens, Bugwood.org

Rhododendron maximum (Rosebay Rhododendron): University of Connecticut Plant Database of Trees, Shrubs and Vines.

Great Rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum): Tree Identification Fact Sheet from the Virginia Tech.

Plant Profile for Rhododendron maximum L. (Great Laurel): USDA, NRCS. 2004. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5 (http://plants.usda.gov). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.

Description of Rhododendron maximum: from the American Rhodedendron Society.

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: West Virginia Legislature, (http://www.legis.state.wv.us/), September 14, 2005
Source: Williamson, WV Public Library, (http://williamsonlibrary.lib.wv.us/), September 17, 2005
Source: State Names, Seals, Flags, and Symbols: A Historical Guide, Third Edition - Benjamin F. Shearer and Barbara S. Shearer, Greenwood Press, 2002
Source: State Names, Flags, Seals, Songs, Birds, Flowers and Other Symbols: Revised Edition (Reprint)- George Earlie Shankle, Ph.D., The H.W. Wilson Company, 1938

 
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