Oklahoma Rose by boxfroxPhoto by boxofrox

Fast Facts

  • Adopted the Oklahoma state flower in 2004
  • Botanical name: Rosa odorata
  • Also known as the blush tea scented rose
  • Oklahoma also has a state floral emblem, mistletoe, and a state wildflower, the Indian blanket
  • Oklahoma rose trivia: The deep red of the Oklahoma rose is said by some to represent blood shed during the forced relocation of five Native American tribes to Oklahoma in the 1800s.
  • Oklahoma Flower Delivery

When it comes to floral symbols, apparently just one flower is not enough for the people of Oklahoma! The Sooner State was already represented by two plants when lawmakers added a third. The reason? The other two were considered not “cultivated” enough by some. One, the Indian blanket, is a wildflower. The other, mistletoe, is a parasite. So when more than 180 gardening clubs lobbied to add the Oklahoma rose as a third, lawmakers acquiesced. It became the official Oklahoma state flower in 2004.

Indian Blanket by Roland zhIndian Blanket: Photo by Roland zh

The hybrid tea rose is a dignified choice to become the Oklahoma state flower, with roots in the state. It was developed at Oklahoma State University in 1964 for an exhibit at the New York World’s Fair and grew in a flowerbed adjacent to the state capitol in Oklahoma City. (Flowers from the roses died en masse that year and it would be 40 years until state lawmakers would tap it as the state flower.) Today, the Oklahoma rose is a darling of gardening clubs throughout the state from Tulsa to Lawton. In the crowded world of hybrid roses and the like, the Oklahoma state flower stands out because of its fragrance and beauty. It produces an “old rose” scent that is variously described as “delightful,” “strong” and “sweet.” It also produces outstanding double blooms with up to 50 petals and a rich, velvety red color. At times, the flower’s petals seem almost black.

Despite the beauty of the Oklahoma state flower, the state’s other floral emblems deserve mention. The mistletoe is the oldest of the state’s symbols, having been chosen the floral emblem of the Oklahoma territory in 1893, 14 years before Oklahoma even became a state. Though it is not a flower, the mistletoe does produce small flowers and the plant was used to adorn the gravesites of early settlers when no other flowers were available. While some have scorned the mistletoe’s parasitic nature (it lives off of trees), to others the plant symbolizes the spirit and perseverance of the state’s pioneers and their ability to withstand hardships. Perhaps that is why even though Oklahomans eventually added a more “cultivated” state flower to their list of state symbols, they left the mistletoe in place alongside it.

Source links:

State of Oklahoma http://www.state.ok.us/osfdocs/stinfo.html

United States National Arboretum http://www.usna.usda.gov/Gardens/collections/statetreeflower.html