The state flower of Mississippi is the magnolia or Magnolia grandiflora. This large flower grows on the magnolia tree which is also the state tree of Mississippi. It is prized throughout the southern United States for its fragrance and appearance. Magnolia trees are an important part of the culture of Mississippi and are found in many areas throughout the state. It has been an important part of the state's identity since 1900 when it was chosen as the state flower.
Magnolia trees are tall, evergreen trees that can grow as high as 80 feet (25 meters) and as wide as 50 feet (15 meters). The flowers themselves can grow to be rather large and may extend as far as 15 inches (40 cm) across. The plant is named after the botanist, Pierre Magnol.
The flowers have no actual nectar but do contain a large amount of pollen which is mostly spread by the beetles that often visit them. They bloom from spring to summer and appear in several colors, including white, yellow, and pink. In the fall, the blooms dry up and fall off but give way to brightly colored fruit. The fruit are seedpods and provide food for squirrels and birds throughout the fall season. They are most often red but can appear in different colors with large seeds that also have their own bright color.
The magnolia blossom is probably best known for the sweet fragrance that many people enjoy during its blooming season. The trees are found throughout the state of Mississippi, along roadways and sprinkled across old plantation lands. The state flower of Mississippi was even featured on the state's version of the US quarter. Magnolias hold a special place in the history of Mississippi, as they have been enjoyed for many generations as a tree that provides shade, a sweet fragrance, and enjoyable blooms.
Magnolias were chosen as the state flower of Mississippi in 1900 in a vote by thousands of school children. The flower was widely accepted as a symbol of Mississippi, but it wasn't until 1952 that it was named the official floral symbol by the state legislature. Similarly, the magnolia tree was selected as the state tree in the 1930s, after a campaign begun by the Director of Forestry. This was made official by the state legislature in 1938.