The state flower of Indiana is the peony. It was adopted as the state symbol in March of 1957, replacing the zinnia. Peonies typically bloom in the late spring or early summer, and boast various shades of pink, red, yellow, and white. This large, showy flower occurs as either a single or double bloom. When the General Assembly introduced the peony as the state flower of Indiana, it did not designate any specific variety or color.
Previous to March 1957, the zinnia had served as Indiana’s state flower since 1931. When the peony was designated the state flower of Indiana, there was some speculation that a commercial peony cultivator was behind the change. It was rumored that this specific grower, who also maintained a position as a state representative, swayed the House vote that favored the peony over the dogwood blossom that had been proposed by the Senate.
Indiana’s history regarding state flowers dates back to 1913, when the carnation was adopted as the state symbol by Concurrent Resolution. Arguments arose that the carnation was not a native flower of Indiana, and the tulip tree blossom was designated as the Indiana state flower in 1923 through an act of the General Assembly. The blossom’s reign was short lived, however, as the zinnia was introduced as the state flower of Indiana only eight years later. It was rumored that a grower of zinnia seeds was behind the change. Oddly enough, the peony has fallen under the same criticisms as the carnation and the zinnia.
The peony is widely cultivated throughout the state, though it is not a native flower of Indiana. It is native to the southern portions of Europe, Asia, and the western states of North America. The state flower of Indiana has suffered some criticism as a result of its native origins. Some maintain that the flower should not serve as the state symbol because it is not a native flower of the area. Despite the opposition, the peony has managed to hold its title as the state flower of Indiana for more than half a century.
Peonies are popularly used in graveside arrangements for Memorial Day, and they are commonly cultivated as an ornamental plant. Their large, showy blooms are highly scented, and they are often prized for their beauty and fragrance. This showy bloom serves as one of the earliest flowers used in ornamental arrangements and decorations.
The state flower of Indiana also serves as a traditional floral symbol for the country of China. Riches and honor are symbolized by the peony in the Chinese culture, and the large, showy blossoms are often used in art. The Qing Dynasty designated the peony as the national flower of China in 1903.