A story regarding the origination of Florida's highway beautification program goes back to 1963 with the purchase of sod.
It's said that a contractor purchased sod from a farmer to use in a highway project near Tallahassee. It seems that the sod was harvested from a pasture that had been over seeded with crimson clover in previous years. The clover was planted as winter forage for cattle.
In the spring of 1963, the sod produced a heavy crop of beautiful red clover blossoms along the roadside. Noticed by passing motorists, the Florida Department of Transportation (DOT) was inundated with complementary phone calls.
The phone calls sent a message and the Florida DOT embarked on efforts to beautify Florida's highways with natural wildflowers.
Some research was done to determine the most appropriate procedures and candidates to use along the states highways but it was kind of hit or miss until the DOT teamed up with the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs, Inc. With the support of the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs, the Department of Transportation funded a research project with Florida Atlantic University. This research project produced recommendations for the most promising wildflowers to use in the DOT's wildflower program.
Varieties of Coreopsis, of which about a dozen are native to Florida, were among the flowers recommended for the wildflower program. Colors range from yellow to pink.
Inspired in part by Florida's highway beautification program where Coreopsis was widely used for roadside plantings, the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs set about promoting adoption of an official state wildflower.
In 1991, the Coreopsis, some varieties referred to as tickseed, was adopted as Florida's official state wildflower. Nothing conveys the image of the Sunshine State better than a golden spray of Coreopsis spread across the landscape.
In 1991, House Bill No. 1909 was approved. It specified that the Department of Motor Vehicles would create a specialty license plate honoring the state wildflower. Regarding the wildflower license plate, section 320.08058 Specialty license plates.— of the Florida Statutes reads
(27) FLORIDA WILDFLOWER LICENSE PLATES.--
(a) The department shall develop a Florida Wildflower license plate as provided in this section. The word “Florida” must appear at the top of the plate, and the words “State Wildflower” and “coreopsis” must appear at the bottom of the plate.
(b) The annual use fees shall be distributed to the Florida Wildflower Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit corporation under s. 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The proceeds must be used to establish native Florida wildflower research programs, wildflower educational programs, and wildflower grant programs to municipal, county, and community-based groups in this state.
1. The Florida Wildflower Foundation, Inc., shall develop procedures of operation, research contracts, education and marketing programs, and wildflower planting grants for Florida native wildflowers, plants, and grasses.
2. A maximum of 15 percent of the proceeds from the sale of such plates may be used for administrative and marketing costs.
3. If the Florida Wildflower Foundation, Inc., ceases to be an active nonprofit corporation under s. 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, the proceeds from the annual use fee shall be deposited into the General Inspection Trust Fund created within the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Any funds held by the Florida Wildflower Foundation, Inc., must be promptly transferred to the General Inspection Trust Fund. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services shall use and administer the proceeds from the use fee in the manner specified in this paragraph.
The following information is excerpted from the Florida Statutes, Title 4, Chapter 15, Section 15.0345 .
TITLE IV - EXECUTIVE BRANCH.
CHAPTER 15. SECRETARY OF STATE.
15.0345 Official state wildflower. --The Coreopsis is hereby designated and declared the official Florida state wildflower, as species of this genus are found throughout the state and are used extensively in roadside plantings and highway beautification.
History.--s. 1, ch. 91-10.
"Coreopsis - State Wildflower History." Florida Wild Flower Council. Florida Wild Flower Council. Web. 27 Sept. 2005.
"The 2014 Florida Statutes." Online Sunshine. The Florida Legislature. Web. 26 Apr. 2015.
Shankle, George Earlie. State Names, Flags, Seals, Songs, Birds, Flowers, and Other Symbols. Irvine, Calif.: Reprint Services Corp, Revised edition, 1971.
Shearer, Benjamin F. and Barbara S. State Names, Seals, Flags and Symbols: A Historical Guide Third Edition, Revised and Expanded. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 3 Sub edition, 2001.
Coreopsis: A Guide To Identifying and Enjoying Florida's State Wildflower: Archived by the University of Florida: Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Coreopsis: National Gardening Association: Plant Care Guides.
Coreopsis: Terra Nova Nurseries, Canby, Oregon.
Plant Profile for Coreopsis L. (Tickseed): USDA, NRCS. 2004. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5 (http://plants.usda.gov). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.
Coreopsis L.: Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) Here you will find authoritative taxonomic information on plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of North America and the world.
Florida Wildflower Advisory Council: Web site of the Florida Avisory Council. The Florida Wildflower Advisory Council is engaged in a statewide effort to educate citizens and visitors about the natural beauty and heritage of Florida's native wildflowers. The Council is responsible for oversight and direction of all expenditures from the proceeds of the Florida Wildflower License Plate.
Florida Wildflower Foundation: Web site of the Florida Wildflower Foundation. The mission of the Florida Wildflower Foundation is to enrich lives with Florida native wildflowers through education, planting and research projects.
Florida Federation of Garden Clubs: FFGC activities, scholarships, youth programs, floral design courses, arrangements, educational opportunities, tours, shows and special events of the various affiliated garden clubs in the state of Florida.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: Website of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas.
State wildflowers: Complete list of official state wildflowers from NETSTATE.COM
More symbols & emblems: Complete list of official Florida state symbols from NETSTATE.COM.
Florida Wildflowers: A Comprehensive Guide, Walter Kingsley Taylor. 576 pages. Publisher: University Press of Florida; COM edition (April 16, 2013)
Walter Kingsley Taylor's Florida Wildflowers in their Natural Communities was wildly praised for its beauty, ease of use, and unique organizational structure: plants were described in the context of where they grow, making identification much simpler--and more rewarding--for the casual hiker or wildflower enthusiast.
Vastly expanded and updated with new taxonomy, this new book provides detailed information on more than 450 species included in the earlier edition and nearly doubles the number of species included by expanding coverage into wetlands.
Florida Wild Flowers and Roadside Plants, by C. Ritchie Bell, Bryan J. Taylor. 332 pages. Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press (December 1, 2006)
Florida Wild Flowers and Roadside Plants is a helpful guide to identifying 500 species of Florida plant life, including rare as well as common wild flowers and characteristic trees, shrubs, vines, and ferns. Each description includes both common and scientific names, a range map, symbols to show the season of bloom, and a useful summary code of nine key plant, leaf, and flower characters, to aid in identification.
With rich color photographs and brief, nontechnical notes to accompany each species, this handbook is a valuable reference for tourists, residents, students, and anyone interested in plants in all seasons of the year, from Pensacola to the Keys.
Native Florida Plants: Low Maintenance Landscaping and Gardening, by Robert G. Haehle. 312 pages. Publisher: Taylor Trade Publishing; Revised Edition edition (February 16, 2004)
Native landscapes are easier to maintain, use less water and thrive without chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Native Florida Plants describes every type of regional flora—-from seaside foliage and wildflowers to grassy meadows, shrubs, vines, and aquatic gardens—-in 301 profiles and accompanying color photographs.
Native Plant Landscaping for Florida Wildlife, Craig N. Huegel. 312 pages. Publisher: University Press of Florida (October 24, 2010)
Floridians share their state with a wide and unique array of wildlife. Unfortunately, commercially developed subdivisions and landscapes often do not provide welcoming habitats for the majority of the native fauna. Attract wildlife back to your yard with this clear, practical guide.
Ecologist and consultant Craig Huegel draws on his considerable experience as both a gardener and a professional wildlife biologist to explain how anyone can easily create an attractive landscape plan that is also an inviting habitat for wild animals.
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.
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