Apple blossoms and apples

Fast Facts

  • Adopted the Arkansas state flower in 1901
  • Botanical name: Pyrus coronaria
  • Common name: American crab apple
  • The apple blossom is also the state flower of Michigan
  • Apple blossom trivia: Apples and crabapples are members of the rose family.
  • Arkansas Flower Delivery

The selection of the apple blossom as the state flower of Arkansas commemorated a time when the state was one of the top apple producers in the country. When it was chosen in 1901, Arkansas’s orchards produced more than 400 varieties of apples a year. Two of its counties in the northwest had more apple trees than any other county in the nation.

For more than a quarter century before and after the designation of the apple blossom as the Arkansas state flower, apples and their flowers dominated the state’s landscape and agriculture. The industry brought the state so much notoriety that the small, northwestern town of Rogers organized an apple blossom festival to promote the region. The celebratory event included colorful floats and the coronation of an apple queen and drew thousands of visitors from across the country. A newspaper in nearby Fort Smith boldly predicted that Arkansas would soon be competing with California and Florida as a “playground for the nation.”

But such aspirations would never materialize. In 1927, the state’s top crops were damaged by disease and severe frost. Apple production plummeted, and Arkansas’ days as a top apple state finished.

Apple Blossom, Tirol by HuberbePhoto by Huberbe

While apples no longer dominate the state’s agriculture, apples and the Arkansas state flower continue to have a presence in the state. Each year, the small town of Lincoln plays host to an apple festival. While many residents grow apple trees in their private, or “kitchen” orchards, larger apple orchards are scattered throughout the state. From Fort Smith to Little Rock, flowers faithfully appear on apple trees each April and May. The Arkansas state flowers are clusters of pink or white petals. These delicate blooms give off a honeysuckle scent that attracts bees to the trees where they carry out the important work of pollinating them.

When apple blossoms are finished, fruits take their spot and grow to their mature, yet small size by late summer. While apples from many trees are edible, the fruit that grows after the Arkansas state flower has fallen is largely ornamental. It is sometimes used to make jams and jellies.

Sources:

The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture

http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=3145

History of the Apple in Lincoln

http://www.arkansasapplefestival.org/history-apple.htm