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What Is the State Flower of New Hampshire?

The state flower of New Hampshire is the delicate purple lilac, a symbol of the hardy character of the Granite State's residents. Chosen for its robustness and ability to thrive in challenging climates, the lilac reflects New Hampshire's natural beauty and resilience. How does this flower embody the spirit of the state? Join us as we explore the lilac's enduring legacy.
April S. Kenyon
April S. Kenyon

New Hampshire boasts two state flowers. The official cultivated state flower of New Hampshire is the purple lilac blossom. While this flower is not native to North America, it was imported from England as early as the middle of the 18th century, and it has served as the state flower of New Hampshire since 1919. The official wildflower of New Hampshire is the pink lady’s slipper, which was voted in as the symbolic wildflower of the state in 1991. It is a native flower of the state and can be found growing in the wooded areas of New Hampshire.

In 1919, the purple lilac beat out a large variety of other candidates for the title of the state flower of New Hampshire. A number of bills promoted other flowers for consideration of state flower status that year, including the apple blossom, the wood lily, and the aster. Other candidates included the mayflower, the buttercup, goldenrod, evening primrose, and the wild pasture rose. The purple lilac was chosen ultimately as the state flower of New Hampshire because it best represented the hardy character of the people in New Hampshire.

Lilac is the official state flower of New Hamshire.
Lilac is the official state flower of New Hamshire.

Lilac bushes have been known to survive for hundreds of years, and more than 1,000 varieties of lilacs exist around the world. The bush is native to Asia and England, and it was transported to the United States in the 1750s. Colors include various shades of white, purple, and pink, and the blossom is sweetly fragrant. The state of New York also claims the lilac as its state bush, though the purple lilac blossom is exclusive to the state of New Hampshire as the state flower.

In contrast to the hardiness of the cultivated state flower of New Hampshire, the symbolic wildflower of the state is rather fragile and delicate. The pink lady’s slipper, also called the moccasin flower or lady’s slipper, was adopted as the state’s official wildflower in 1991. It is a rare orchid found growing wild in the wooded areas of New Hampshire. In many areas, this beautiful orchid is protected as an endangered plant species because its natural environment is slowly giving way to agriculture and the advancement of society. Numerous individuals also attempt, unsuccessfully, to transplant the pink lady’s slipper, resulting in a depletion of the species.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the state flower of New Hampshire?

The state flower of New Hampshire is the purple lilac (Syringa vulgaris). This flower was designated as the state's official emblem in 1919 due to its widespread popularity and the hardy nature that reflects the character of the Granite State's citizens. The purple lilac is known for its sweet fragrance and beautiful purple blooms, which typically appear in the spring.

Why was the purple lilac chosen as New Hampshire's state flower?

The purple lilac was chosen as New Hampshire's state flower because it symbolizes the hardy character of the state's residents. The flower is able to withstand the cold winters, much like the people of New Hampshire. Additionally, the purple lilac was selected over other candidates such as the apple blossom, the wood lily, the Mayflower, and the goldenrod, due to its popularity and the fact that it was already widely planted throughout the state.

When is the best time to see purple lilacs in New Hampshire?

The best time to see purple lilacs in New Hampshire is typically in late May to early June. This is when the lilacs are in full bloom, showcasing their vibrant purple flowers and filling the air with their sweet fragrance. Lilac festivals and events often take place during this time, celebrating the state flower and the arrival of spring.

Are there any festivals dedicated to the purple lilac in New Hampshire?

Yes, New Hampshire celebrates the purple lilac with festivals, the most notable being the annual Lilac Festival at the Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion in Portsmouth. This event features tours of the historic lilac gardens, local crafts, and family activities. It's a tribute to the state flower and a way for residents and visitors to appreciate the beauty and fragrance of the lilacs.

Can I grow purple lilacs in my own garden, and how do I care for them?

Yes, you can grow purple lilacs in your own garden. They thrive in well-drained soil with plenty of sunlight. To care for lilacs, plant them in an area with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight, water them regularly, and prune after blooming to encourage growth and maintain shape. Lilacs are relatively low-maintenance and can live for decades, making them a long-lasting addition to any garden.

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    • Lilac is the official state flower of New Hamshire.
      By: Diana Taliun
      Lilac is the official state flower of New Hamshire.