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Ohio State Wildflower

Large White Trillium Trillium grandiflorum Adopted: December 4, 1986
Ohio state wildflower
Ohio State Wildflower: Large White Trillium
Photographs, prints, posters

In 1982 nine people came together at the First Annual Wildflower Symposium at Holden Arboretum in Kirkland, Ohio. This group of people gave birth to the Native Plant Society of Northeastern Ohio, the founding chapter of the Ohio Native Plant Society.

One of the early goals of the newly formed Society was to nominate and designate a flower that was "native" to Ohio as the state's official floral representative.

Their interpretation of the role of an official state flower clearly differed from the ideas of those who had chosen the "non-native" scarlet carnation in 1904 where admiration of a state political figure was the prime motivator. The political figure behind the red carnation: Ohio native and U.S. Representative William McKinley who went on to become President of the United States in 1896. He considered the red carnation a good luck token.

Barb Andreas suggested that the group nominate an appropriate native flower as a replacement for the scarlet carnation and a vote on this issue, by the Society, was scheduled for April 26, 1983.

Other efforts to unseat the scarlet carnation had failed in the past but, at the April 26 meeting, those in attendance voted to promote the large white trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) to take on the role of official state wildflower.

The group chose the "wildflower" designation rather than the "flower" designation because they felt legislation would stand a better chance of success if it did not threaten the position of the scarlet carnation.

A very pragmatic group, they also determined to contact the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and other possible stakeholders for advice. They believed that the project would take a good amount of time and effort to organize and launch and they prepared for a long run.

In the summer of 1984, members of the Native Plant Society of Northeastern Ohio were in contact with state representatives. They needed a sponsor for a bill and needed to lay the groundwork for a successful campaign.

Another year passed without measurable progress but, nearing the end of 1985, it was announced that State Representative Bob Clark, a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, would sponsor a bill to name the large white trillium the official state wildflower of Ohio. The scarlet carnation would maintain its position as the state's official flower.

The trillium was chosen by the Society to take on the role of official state wildflower because

  • it was found in all eighty-eight counties of the State of Ohio;
  • it could be easily recognized by the general public;
  • and it was not an endangered species.

The last criterion strikes us as most interesting. Often state symbols have been elected because they are endangered species. In these cases it's felt that elevation to officialdom will bring the endangered species to the attention of the public, generating sympathy for its cause.

The Native Plant Society of Northeastern Ohio, on the opposite side of the fence, felt that public recognition for endangered species would prove a detriment to its survival.

... it is not a rare species which might be threatened by bringing it to notice.

(Malmquist, 1985, p. 1)

House Bill No. 763 (HB763) was introduced in the Ohio House of Representative by State Representative Bob Clark in early 1986. The intention of HB763 was clear and concise.


Section 1. That section 5.021 of the Revised Code be enacted to read as follows:


Ann Malmquist, President of the Native Plant Society of Northeastern Ohio, urged members to spread the word and engage in a massive letter-writing campaign. She reiterated the three basic selling points for the designation and added that Ohio was one of only three states that had not chosen a native plant as a state flower and that it was important to emphasize that the trillium was not replacing the scarlet carnation.

She exhorted members of the Society to

Pick up your pens and write! Ohio state wildflower
Ohio State Wildflower: Large White Trillium
Photographs, prints, posters

In the March/April edition of On the Fringe, the newsletter of the Native Plant Society of Northeastern Ohio, Society President Malmquist reported that the bill had passed through initial hearings. She also included an interesting anecdote related to the hearings.

Our Bill for the Trillium grandiflorum as the state wildflower has passed its first hearings committee with flying colors. The legislators were particularly take with the fact that the dictionary lists trillium and trilobite (the new state fossil) one after the other as both are three-lobed". How lucky can you get?!? Hopefully the Bill will be voted out of committee this week and onto the main floor.

(Malmquist, 1986, p. 11)

Indeed, the full House approved HB763 by a majority vote.

The next stop for the wildflower bill was the Ohio Senate. Unfortunately, some time was spent in the land of uncertainty concerning the future of the bill as the Senate did not take it into consideration until spring and summer passed into autumn.

But take it up they did and approve it they did.

The large white trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) was adopted as the official state wildflower of Ohio when Governor Richard F. Celeste signed House Bill No. 763 on December 4, 1986.

The law went into effect on March 5, 1987.


"30th Anniversary: Ohio Native Plant Society and the Northeastern Ohio Chapter." Native Plant Society of Northeasern Ohio. 29 Sept. 2012. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.

"5.021 State Wild Flower." Ohio Revised Code. The Ohio Legislature. Web. 29 Sept. 2005.

Malmquist, Ann. "President's Column." On the Fringe 2 (Mar. 1984): 2. Print.

Malmquist, Ann. "President's Column." On the Fringe 2 (May 1984): 2. Print.

Malmquist, Ann. "President's Column." On the Fringe 2 (Jul. 1984): 2. Print.

Malmquist, Ann. "President's Annual Report." On the Fringe 2 (Nov./Dec. 1985): 1. Print.

Malmquist, Ann. "President's Column." On the Fringe 4 (Jan./Feb. 1986): 15. Print.

Malmquist, Ann. "President's Column." On the Fringe 4 (Mar./Apr. 1986): 11. Print.

Malmquist, Ann. "President's Column." On the Fringe 4 (May./Jun. 1986): 8. Print.

Malmquist, Ann. "President's Column." On the Fringe 5 (Jan./Feb. 1987): 11. Print.

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.

Additional Information

Ohio state wildflower
Ohio State Wildflower: Large White Trillium
Photographs, prints, posters

Ohio's State Wildflower - White Trillium: Brief comment of Ohio's official state wildflower from Ohio History Central.

Trillium grandiflorum: Description from the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Trillium grandiflorum: Entry at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower, University of Texas, Austin.

Great White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum): Chicago Botanic Garden.

Trillium grandiflorum (Michx.) Salisb. (white trilium): PLANTS Database, United States Department of Agriculture: Natural Resource Conservation Service.

Trillium grandiflorum (Michx.) Salisb.: Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) Here you will find authoritative taxonomic information on plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of North America and the world.

Official website: The Native Plant Society of Northeastern Ohio.

Official website: Cleveland Botanical Garden.

State wildflowers: Complete list of official state wildflowers from NETSTATE.COM

More symbols & emblems: Complete list of official Ohio state symbols from NETSTATE.COM.

Wild Flowers of Ohio
Wild Flowers of Ohio
Robert L. Henn

Wild Flowers of Ohio, Robert L. Henn. 264 pages. Publisher: Quarry Books; Second Edition edition (March 12, 2008)

Over the past decade, Wildflowers of Ohio has become the standard for field identification in Ohio, used by both college biology students and wildflower enthusiasts alike. This second edition marks the 10th anniversary of Robert L. Henn's popular guide. It has been expanded to include more than 300 species of wildflowers arranged by color and taxonomy, each with a thorough description of characteristics, habitat, distribution, and human uses. Henn includes a glossary, diagrams of flower parts and leaf arrangements, and a succinct, informative introduction.

Wildflowers of Ohio Field Guide
Wildflowers of Ohio
Field Guide

Stan Tekiela

Designed for durability, the guide retains its innovative side-flip design for ease of use. Any Ohioan or resident of neighboring states who is captivated by the wonders of the natural world will find this pocket guide to be indispensable.

Wildflowers of Ohio Field Guide, by Stan Tekiela. 410 pages. Publisher: Adventure Publications (November 16, 2001)

This is your field guide to 200 of Ohio's wildflowers. Full-page photographs and an easy-to-read format present the information that's critical to accurate identification. And the species are organized by color, so when you see a purple flower, simply turn to the purple section of the book. Wildflower identification has never been easier.

You've seen Ohio's beautiful wildflowers. Now learn to identify them.

State Botanical Symbols
State Botanical Symbols
Alan McPherson

State Botanical Symbols, by Alan McPherson. 132 pages. AuthorHouse (June 10, 2013)

Alan McPherson is a naturalist who resides in northern Indiana and enjoys traveling and learning about the botanical resources our vast country.

In this reference book over 200 state botanical symbols are presented with informative text that highlights their adoptive legislation, botanical and social history. From the white pine of Maine's northeastern forests, westward to the yellow hibiscus of Hawaii's Polynesian islands, our state's official botanical symbols are as uniquely diverse as the terrain and character of the 50 states themselves.

State Birds and Flowers Coloring Book
State Birds and Flowers
Coloring Book
U.S. State Flowers in Counted Cross Stitch
U.S. State Flowers
in Counted Cross Stitch

Gerda Bengtsson

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, garden tools and more.