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What Is the State Flower of Oklahoma?

Rebecca Cartwright
Rebecca Cartwright

The state flower of Oklahoma is the "Oklahoma" hybrid tea rose. A showy, dark red rose with a strong fragrance, "Oklahoma" was developed at the University of Oklahoma and released in 1964, and designated as the state flower in 2004. The rose joined mistletoe along with a native wildflower, Indian blanket, as one of three official floral symbols of the state.

In 1893, when the idea of official state flowers was first taking hold in the United States, Oklahoma was still a territory. In that year the mistletoe native to the state, Phoradendron leucarpum, sometimes called oak mistletoe, was named the territory's floral emblem. It was named again as the state floral emblem in 1910, just after Oklahoma became a state. For many years mistletoe was commonly referred to as the state flower of Oklahoma. Although mistletoe is economically important to the horticultural industry in Oklahoma, many were not happy with the choice of a small-flowered, parasitic plant as the state flower.

Mistletoe is one of Oklahoma's three floral symbols.
Mistletoe is one of Oklahoma's three floral symbols.

Another floral symbol was adopted in 1986: the native wildflower, Gaillardia pulchella, commonly called Indian blanket. Although officially designated the state's wildflower, Indian blanket was also sometimes referred to as the state flower of Oklahoma. Many gardeners in the state, however, wanted a cultivated, showier, garden plant as the state flower. The popular "Oklahoma" rose was frequently suggested, and in 2004 the state legislature named "Oklahoma" the official state flower of Oklahoma.

"Oklahoma" bears repeated flushes of dark red, tall-centered blossoms throughout the growing season. It is a typical hybrid tea rose, with large buds that open slowly into cutting-quality roses, each at the end of its own long stem. The blossoms each typically have 45 to 50 petals growing in a spiral out from the center, and the flowers average 5 inches (about 13 cm) across. "Oklahoma" roses are also noted for their strong, sweet fragrance.

In hotter growing areas the bushes can reach up to 8.5 feet (about 2.6 m), but they are more often 6 to 8 feet (2 to 2.5 m) tall. They average 4 feet (1.25 m) in width. The leaves are large and leathery, with a dark green color which complements the vivid red of the flowers.

"Oklahoma" is recommended for US Department of Agriculture growing zones 6 to 11. It does best, however, in the cooler, drier parts of that range. The plant is very disease resistant and the only pruning normally required is the removal of dead and damaged stems.

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    • Mistletoe is one of Oklahoma's three floral symbols.
      By: Vera Kuttelvaserova
      Mistletoe is one of Oklahoma's three floral symbols.