What is Arizona’s State Flower? History & Facts
When we think of Arizona, we often think of a beautiful desert state with stunning landscapes filled with cacti and wildlife. We’ll admit, it’s hard to think of anything else when you imagine the great Grand Canyon State. It should come as no surprise that the state chose a native desert plant for the state flower. You might not think that a cactus can bloom flowers, but one of the natural beauties was named the state flower of Arizona in 1931. The Saguaro Cactus Blossom, which blooms from the unique and imposing Saguaro Cactus, proudly crowns the native cacti that can grow almost over 55 feet tall and live for nearly 200 years.
The Saguaro Cactus Blossom
The blooms from the Saguaro Cactus have a distinct waxy texture, and some say that their fragrant smell reminds them of melon. The blossoms appear primarily on the tips of the Saguaro’s branches and can last for over a month once blooming. One of the unique things about the cactus blossom is that the flowers primarily open up in the evening and close back by noon the following day. The waxy, white Saguaro Cactus Blossom can even transform into red fruits in the late summer.
Cactus Blossom Flowering
Unlike a traditional flower, cacti only bloom once they’ve reached their full maturity level, which can take 75 years or more to occur! For a cactus to bloom, the conditions must be exactly right. It has to have had the right amount of water, light exposure, and fertilization to trigger its blossoming maturity levels. The Saguaro Cactus tend to bloom in May and June. A single cactus can have multiple blooms, creating a beautiful display of crowning flowers over 12 feet high.
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How Did Arizona Choose Its State Flower?
First adopted in 1901 as a territorial flower, the Saguaro Cactus Blossom has been a part of Arizona’s history since the 1800s. The state flower, which is not the cactus itself but rather the blossom on top of the cactus, made its first appearance as an Arizona symbol in 1836 as the state seal. This seal was designed by Richard Cunningham McCormick, who was the first Secretary of the Arizona Territory before it was a state.
Arizona did not become an official state until 1912, and they officially recognized the Saguaro Cactus Blossom as their state flower in 1931. The General Assembly of Arizona chose the native desert plant as the state flower since it is one of the defining plants of the Sonoran Desert and a symbol of the American Southwest.
Interesting Facts About the Saguaro Cactus Blossom
Featured Image Credit: Jim David, Shutterstock