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What Is the National Flower of the USA?

By Anna B. Smith
Updated May 17, 2024
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The national flower of the USA is the rose. This flower may be used in any design that represents the floral emblem, and is not limited to a particular rose variety. Several individual states also name the rose as their state flower, though most designate a species that is native to their area. The rose can be found in all fifty states of the USA, and ranges in color from white, to orange, red, and some hybrid blues.

The rose became the national flower of the USA in 1986. President Ronald Reagan signed the resolution, passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives, into law as a proclamation while standing in the rose garden of the White House. This botanical area is designed to resemble a traditional 1800s rose garden, and features flowers arranged in geometric patterns that are outlined by boxwoods. The formal flower beds surround a rectangular shaped green grass lawn that is traditionally the site of outdoor press conferences and garden parties. When the roses are not in bloom, grape hyacinth and tulips, among other flowers, are displayed.

Other flowers were suggested to Congress and to the President for use as the national flower of the USA. The marigold was one such suggestion for use as a symbol of the spirit and resilience of the American people. This flower is unique to North America, unlike many of the varieties of the rose which originate on other continents.

No one single rose species was named as the national flower of the USA. Different varieties and colors are frequently used alongside other national symbols, such as the eagle, and the stars and stripes of the flag. Many states similarly chose to use this type of flower in their own floral emblem, though they generally designate one variety that grows in particular abundance in their area. The state of Iowa claims the wild rose as their state flower, while North Dakota uses the wild prairie rose.

The American Beauty is one of the most recognizable and commonly used rose varieties in both national photography and patriotic imagery. This variety produces a large, showy bloom featuring 50 round shaped fiery pink petals. It is a popular choice for use in cut flower arrangements for its beautiful coloring and fragrant aroma. The District of Columbia, in which the White House is located, claims this particular type of rose as its own local flower.

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Discussion Comments

By LisaLou — On Oct 20, 2011

I love roses and have several that I have transplanted when I have moved from house to house.

I find it interesting that they considered the marigold as the national flower. Even though I also love marigolds and plant some every year, for some reason a rose just sounds nicer as a national flower.

Marigolds don't have nearly as nice a smell as a rose does either. I have seen some beautiful rose gardens in my time, but the most beautiful one was in Ireland.

My daughter was married there in a Princess Diana rose garden, and it was absolutely breath taking. There were so many different colors of roses and they were all over the place.

Roses are probably a flower that is loved in many places around the world, but I am glad it was chosen as our national flower.

By honeybees — On Oct 19, 2011

I never even knew there was a national flower of the United States. It makes sense they chose a rose because it is such a loved flower by so many people.

Our state flower is the wild rose and you will see these growing along the roads every now and then.

Since I love flowers I always find it interesting to read down through a list of state flowers and see what they have chosen for their flower. I would guess it would be something that is native to the area and hopefully something easy to grow.

By jholcomb — On Oct 19, 2011

@dfoster85 - I hadn't heard that the rose was the national flower of America either. I guess it makes sense if you think about the president's rose garden, but on the other hand, I think of roses as more of a European thing. Like the Wars of the Roses; that was between the house of York and the house of Plantagenet. One of them had a white rose as a symbol and the other had a red rose. If you're an Aaron Sorkin fan, I'm sure you saw the West Wing episode that had a red and white rose motif. It was the one where the Secret Service agent was killed.

When I was in college, I saw Helen Thomas give a talk once (before she went kind of senile). She said of the presidency, "All we ever promised you was a rose garden." Love that line!

By dfoster85 — On Oct 19, 2011

Huh. I didn't know there *was* a United States national flower. I know a lot of states of the dogwood, for instance, and also have official state birds, beverages, cookies, etc. Guess the idea of a national flower never really caught on, or I would have heard of it!

I did know the White House had a rose garden. I'm a big fan of Aaron Sorkin (although Studio 60 was a mistake) and The American President is one of my favorite movies. The president wants to send a woman flowers, but he can't order any because he doesn't have a credit card.

At the end, he presents her with a bouquet of red roses and she asks him how he finally managed it. He says, "It turns out, I've got a rose garden."

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