Michigan State Wildflower
Adoption of the Michigan State Wildflower
In 1996, the Michigan Wildflower Association sponsored an informal wildflower preference poll through newspapers throughout the state. The Association invited citizens to vote for one of six native plants for nomination as the state's official wildflower. The large-flowered white trillium garnered 1,733 votes to secure first place in the poll. The dwarf lake iris came in second with 1,479 votes.
While the large-flowered white trillium grows throughout eastern North America, the dwarf lake iris grows only in the Great Lakes area and most of the world's population of this iris is found within the borders of Michigan. The dwarf lake iris is considered threatened on the state and federal levels.
Interestingly, on June 12, 1997, House Bill No. 4923 was introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives. It proposed that the second-place dwarf lake iris be declared the state wildflower.
With the support of the Michigan Botanical Club, the Michigan Nature Association, the Michigan Natural Areas Council, the Michigan Environmental Council, and the University of Michigan Herbarium, State Representative Liz Brater of Ann Arbor introduced House Bill No. 4923 in 1997 nominating the threatened dwarf lake iris (Iris lacustris) as the official state wildflower of Michigan.
No doubt one of the purposes of this bill was to draw attention to the causes of protecting the dwarf lake iris and conservation in general. Development of Michigan lake shorelines was threatening the habitat of this plant. Bill sponsor Representative Liz Brater (now State Senator) is considered a leader on environmental issues and is the past Land Use Director of the Ecology Center. She serves as the Vice Chair of Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs and the Agriculture, Forestry and Tourism Committees. In recognition of her leadership in protection of the environment, she was named the Sierra Club Environmentalist of the Year in 1996.
The Michigan Wildflower Association did not react kindly to House Bill No. 4923 and called it "an outrageous power play by select environmental interests over the interests of the people of Michigan."
The efforts of the Michigan Wildflower Association may have been doomed from the beginning however. Promoted as a symbol of the state's efforts to balance growth and conservation, the dwarf lake iris gained majority support because it was so unique to the State of Michigan. House Bill No. 4923 was passed in both the House and Senate and Signed by Governor John M. Engler on December 29, 1998 with an effective date of December 30, 1998.
The Michigan Compiled Laws
The following information is excerpted from the Michigan Compiled Laws, Chapter 2, Section 2.81.
Act 454 of 1998
AN ACT to designate an official wildflower of this state.
The People of the State of Michigan enact:
2.81 State wildflower.
The dwarf lake iris (Iris lacustris) is designated as an official wildflower of this state.
History: 1998, Act 454, Imd. Eff. Dec. 30, 1998
© 2004 Legislative Council, State of Michigan
Plant Profile for Iris lacustris Nutt. (Dwarf Lake Iris): USDA, NRCS. 2004. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5 (http://plants.usda.gov). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.
Dwarf Lake Iris (Iris lacustris): Article about the dwarf lake iris by Elaine A Chittenden with assistance from the Natural Heritage Program and Michigan Natural Features Inventory staff.
Dwarf Lake Iris: Endangered species fact sheet from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Wildflower Association of Michigan: Web site of the Wildflower Association of Michigan, Grand Ledge, Michigan.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: Web site for the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas.
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: Michigan Legislature, (http://www.michiganlegislature.org), September 27, 2005
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