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What Is the State Flower of Iowa?

The state flower of Iowa is the wild prairie rose, a symbol of beauty and resilience that blankets the state's prairies. This charming bloom not only represents the region's natural heritage but also the enduring spirit of Iowans. Discover how this delicate flower earned its esteemed title and what it reveals about Iowa's cultural identity. Ready to explore the wild prairie rose's story?
Carol Luther
Carol Luther

Iowa chose the wild rose as its state flower in 1897. The previous year, Iowa's legislature had used an image of one of the state's wild roses for the official state motif. After the wild rose appeared on a silver tea set and as a motif used on the U.S. Navy battleship Iowa, it wasn't long before the flower was the official flower for Iowans.

Iowa has several wild rose species, each with its own champions. The 1897 legislative decree did not specify which wild rose species had been selected as the state flower of Iowa. Despite the resulting confusion and competition between native rose species, the wild prairie rose eventually became the official state flower of Iowa. It is the species that Iowa registered with the U.S. National Arboretum. Rosa arkansana is the wild prairie rose’s botanical name.

Rose hips -- such as those from the wild rose -- provide a concentrated form of vitamin C and are sometimes added to vitamin supplements.
Rose hips -- such as those from the wild rose -- provide a concentrated form of vitamin C and are sometimes added to vitamin supplements.

The selection process used by the Iowa legislature made it somewhat difficult to specify only one of its many wild rose species as the state flower of Iowa. Historians have identified two other wild roses that are frequently used as the Iowa state flower. These roses are similar in appearance, but they have different botanical names and distinct features. The wild roses that are considered alternates for the wild prairies rose as the state flower of Iowa are the Rosa blanda and Rosa carolina.

The wild prairie rose is a shrub that grows to a height of 3 feet (0.9 meter). It is commonly found in Iowa's prairies, meadows and woods. This rose has pink flowers that usually appear in June. It also produces small, round rose hips that normally appear during the summer.

Rosa blanda is a native species usually found in the northern region of Iowa. It also grows in Iowa's prairies, meadows and woods, but its common name is the meadow rose. This flower also is common in Iowa's main cities. The shrub on which it grows reaches a height of 4 feet (1.2 meters). This early contender for the state flower of Iowa has large pink flowers that bloom from late June through summer and red hips that are shaped like apples.

Rosa carolina is the third contender for the honor of being the state flower of Iowa. It is most frequently found in meadows and woods. With its pink flowers, Rosa carolina can easily be mistaken for its competition, Rosa blanda and Rosa arkansana. Home gardeners also cultivate this species as a lawn ornamental and for indoor bouquets.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the state flower of Iowa?

The state flower of Iowa is the Wild Rose. It was designated as the official state flower in 1897, reflecting its natural beauty and prevalence across the state's prairies. The Wild Rose is admired for its simple yet striking appearance, with pink blossoms that typically bloom from June to late summer. This flower is not only a symbol of the state's natural heritage but also represents the resilience and beauty of Iowa's landscapes.

Why was the Wild Rose chosen as Iowa's state flower?

The Wild Rose was chosen as Iowa's state flower due to its widespread presence throughout the state and its use by early settlers. According to historical records, pioneers often planted wild roses on the graves of loved ones, and the flower's image was used on various emblems and decorations. Its selection symbolizes the pioneering spirit of Iowa's early inhabitants and the state's natural beauty.

Where can you find the Wild Rose in Iowa?

The Wild Rose, being indigenous to the state, can be found in many of Iowa's prairies, woodlands, and along roadsides. It thrives in the state's varied habitats, from wetlands to dry prairies. Nature enthusiasts can visit state parks and natural reserves during the blooming season, typically from June to late summer, to witness the Wild Rose in its natural setting.

Are there any festivals or events dedicated to the Wild Rose in Iowa?

While there may not be a specific festival dedicated solely to the Wild Rose, Iowa celebrates its natural heritage and wildflowers through various garden shows, state park programs, and nature walks. These events often highlight the beauty of native plants, including the state flower, and provide educational opportunities for residents and visitors to learn about Iowa's diverse flora.

How does the Wild Rose contribute to Iowa's ecosystem?

The Wild Rose plays a significant role in Iowa's ecosystem by providing habitat and food for local wildlife. Its flowers attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies, which are essential for the pollination of many other plant species. The rose hips, which are the fruit of the Wild Rose, serve as a food source for birds and small mammals, especially during the fall and winter months.

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Discussion Comments

seag47

I have seen wild prairie roses growing along the highway in Iowa. They are so beautiful that it's hard to believe they weren't cultivated.

They have so many stamens in their centers. This gives the middle a fluffy yellow texture.

I never would have thought this flower was related to actual roses. Roses fold around themselves so much, but this flower is completely open.

They look so pretty with their light pink petals blowing in the breeze. I like to watch them dance as cars pass them by in front of me, stirring the air.

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    • Rose hips -- such as those from the wild rose -- provide a concentrated form of vitamin C and are sometimes added to vitamin supplements.
      By: WuTtY
      Rose hips -- such as those from the wild rose -- provide a concentrated form of vitamin C and are sometimes added to vitamin supplements.