What Is the State Flower of Alabama? Facts, Appearance, & FAQ
Did you know that Alabama ranks 4th among states in the US in terms of total biodiversity? It also ranks 1st among states east of the Mississippi. You’ll see a wide range of plant and animal life in the state, including over 4,000 species of plants and flowers. But what is the state flower of Alabama?
The state flower of Alabama is the camellia. It’s not native to Alabama, but is cultivated here and in the rest of the United States in many different colors. Alabamians take great pride in this flower, and the Birmingham Botanical Gardens in Birmingham, Alabama, even has a large camellia garden where you can see many of the different color varieties. Continue reading to learn more about the camellia and why it was chosen as Alabama’s state flower.
The camellia (scientific name: Camellia japonica) is native to areas of Asia including China, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. Unlike most flowers that grow in Alabama and bloom in spring and summer, the Camellia is unique in that most of them bloom when temperatures are colder, earning it the nickname “the rose of winter.”
Most camellia flowers come in varying shades of pink, but you can also find varieties in red and white. The foliage is dark green and very shiny, and they are considered evergreen plants. Camellia plants are beautiful year-round, even when they aren’t blooming. There are also six different types of camellia blooms, including:
With so many colors and varieties, you can see that a great deal of work went into creating these different cultivars in America. Camellias with small blooms are quite fragrant, but camellias with larger blooms aren’t as fragrant. This is due to breeding the flowers to focus more on the size rather than the smell.
Camellias are very easy to grow, but they can get quite large. The plants are shrubs which can grow as much as 20 ft. wide and 8 to 20 ft. high. They require either a lot of space, or pruning to keep them on the smaller side.
These shrubs are hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 6-10. They can grow in shade, part shade, or full sun, but shade and part shade are better for camellias growing in warmer climates. The flowers make great cutting flowers, but camellia shrubs can also be used for natural privacy fences due to their size.
How Was Camellia Chosen?
The camellia was chosen as the state flower of Alabama in 1959. It wasn’t the original state flower. The original state flower of Alabama was the goldenrod which was chosen in 1927. But the reason the flower was changed is because growers of camellias in Butler County, Alabama argued that the goldenrod was a weed and not a flower.
To get the state flower changed, these camellia growers reached out to Folsom LaMont Glass, a state representative from Greenville, Alabama. Greenville was nicknamed the camellia city due to the many old and very large camellia shrubs that grew throughout the town. Greenville even adopted the camellia as the official city flower in 1938.
They knew that Representative Glass would be easy to convince to have the state flower changed. He introduced a bill, and the bill was signed by Governor John Patterson in August of 1959. The camellia was adopted as the new state flower and has held its place ever since.
In addition to the camellia being the state flower, Alabama also recognizes an official state wildflower, the oakleaf hydrangea. The oakleaf hydrangea was chosen as the official state wildflower in 1999.
So there you have it. The official state flower of Alabama is the camellia. This beautiful flower comes in white, red, and many different shades of pink. It’s also represented on the back of the Alabama state quarter. As you can see, many Alabamians, especially gardeners and plant enthusiasts, take great pride in this flower. This was how the camellia came to be the state flower in the first place, ending the goldenrod’s 32-year reign.
Featured Image Credit: Maria, Pixabay