Cherokee RoseFast Facts

  • Adopted the Georgia state flower in 1916
  • Botanical name: Rosa laevigata
  • Commonly called Rosier Blanc de Neige, Snow-White Rose
  • Cherokee rose trivia: The choice of the Cherokee rose as the Georgia state flower came at the urging of women’s clubs
  • Send flowers to Georgia

With its small leaves and petite white blossoms, the Cherokee rose is a beautiful choice as the state flower of Georgia. It grows well throughout the state and thrives in many conditions, including in drought. What’s more, the rose is also linked to Georgia’s past.

The Cherokee rose is an evergreen climbing shrub that grows to heights of up to 20 feet. Its small, delightful flowers have white petals and yellow centers. They blossom for only brief periods of time in late March and early April, but occasionally, Cherokee rose plants produce a second round of blossoms.

A native of China, the Cherokee rose arrived in the United States sometime in the early to mid 1700s. The plant appeared in gardens in the mid-century in Georgia and was planted by the Native American Cherokee in northern Georgia not long after. The Georgia state flower is forever linked to U.S. history through the “Trail of Tears,” a tragic event in 1838 in which thousands of Cherokee were forced out of Georgia and other lands east of the Mississippi River. The path taken by Native Americans was dubbed the “Trail of Tears” because of the tears shed by Cherokee women on the journey. Cherokee chiefs prayed for a sign to give their women hope and the strength to care for their children. It is said that wherever a tear dropped, a Cherokee rose bloomed. The flowers continue to bloom along the path today.

Today, the Georgia state flower is associated with more positive memories and opportunities. The rose is used in landscaping throughout the state, though because of its fast-growing nature, gardeners are careful not to let it overtake smaller shrubs. In addition, the flower is honored through numerous events. Each year, the “Miss Georgia Rose Scholarship Pageant” is organized in Columbus, the “Cherokee Rose Storyteller Festival” takes place in a small town east of Atlanta, and a Cherokee Rose scholarship is handed out by the state’s garden association in Athens. Businesses pay tribute to the Georgia state flower as well, including the popular Cherokee Rose Country Club outside of Savannah. More commonly perhaps, Georgia’s state flower is simply a beautiful flower enjoyed by countless gardeners and residents across the state!

Sources: Mississippi State University