Purple Lilac by Charles JolyPhoto by Charles Joly

Fast Facts

  • Adopted as the State flower in 1919
  • Botanical Name: Syringa vulgaris
  • Pink Lady’s Slipper almost took over as State flower in 1991; it relented and was named the State Wildflower
  • Botanical Name: Cypripedium acaule
  • Purple Lilacs have an absolutely captivating fragrance used in many perfumes
  • New Hampshire Flower Delivery

Depending on what site or book you read… you’ll hear that the Purple Lilac is indeed the State flowers, of New Hampshire… or perhaps it’s Pink Lady’s Slipper. Upon closer review, however, one will learn the Pink Lady’s Slipper is the State’s Wildflower (which is actually a plant). Purple Lilac was discovered by historian Leon Anderson, who noted that Purple Lilac was first imported from England, and then planted at the Portsmouth home of Governor Benning Wentworth in 1750. That year, amendments were introduced promoting the Apple Blossom, Purple Aster, Wood Lily, Mayflower, Goldenrod, Wild Pasture Rose, Evening Primrose and Buttercup for serious consideration of New Hampshire’s State flower. Extensive and energetic debate followed regarding the relative merits of each flower. The Purple Lilac was ultimately chosen because it “is symbolic of that hardy character of the men and women of the Granite State.” (New Hampshire Revised Statute Annotated (RSA) 3:5) New Hampshire’s State flower and aforementioned wildflower are similar in their beauty – but infinitely different in durability.

Syringa vulgaris by Georgi KunevPhoto by Georgi Kunev

The Purple Lilac is robust and sturdy; the Pink Lady’s Slipper is fragile. It’s native to New Hampshire, growing in moist, soggy wooded areas of the state and in acidic soils of pine-oak forests. Purple Lilac is extremely well-known and favored because it’s absolutely beautiful; it’s cherished by not only residents, but gardeners all over the world for its incomparable splendor and charming fragrance. Purple Lilac also boasts one of the most powerful and commonly used fragrances emitted by a plant. Throughout Portsmouth and to the capital city of Concord, one can see the copious divine blooms of these gorgeous flowers everywhere. Even at Mother of Rivers, a nickname of the state because four major New England rivers originate in New Hampshire’s mountains, there’s an abundance of the pretty and poignant Purple Lilac. It’s so breathtaking; it looks like a watercolor painting!

Purple Lilac is a deciduous shrub generally used as a hedge or an individual “accent plant;” it’s overflowing along the park trails and wide open fields of Dover, just as near the riverbeds of Franklin. The gorgeous light purple or lavender flowers occur in bursting clusters amid dark green heart-shaped leaves. In the fall the flowers may even turn yellow and/or green! Purple Lilacs produce new shoots that shoot from the base or roots of the shrub. In North American gardens, it’s a very resilient shrub. Lilacs can withstand severely cold winter temperatures (even -35 degrees C); in fact, the species does not grow well at all in areas without significant frost in the wintertime.

Source Links:

Nature Hills http://www.naturehills.com/product/common_purple_lilac.aspx

New Hampshire Official Website http://www.nh.gov/nhinfo/fastfact.html