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What Is the State Flower of Idaho? Facts, Symbols, & FAQ


Every state has a number of symbols that they choose to represent its unique culture, landscape, and history. Montana, for instance, only has 12 symbols, while Idaho has 16. The official state flower of Idaho is the Syringa¹ (Philadelphus lewisii), also known as the mock orange. This fragrant blossom has a long history in the Gem State, so let’s check out a bit more about how it was chosen and a bit more about its past.

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About the Syringa

The Syringa grows in shrubs all over Idaho, giving fields the illusion of being blanketed in snow when they blossom in the late spring. The blossoms smell faintly like orange, hence the name. The shrub can grow up to 20 feet in ideal conditions, but most specimens only grow to 12–16 feet. The branches are short and fairly thick, which is why Native Americans used them to craft everyday items like combs, pipes, snowshoes, and arrows.

The Syringa’s official name, Philadelphus lewisii, was named after the famed explorer Meriweather Lewis, who discovered the plant along the Clearwater River in 1806. He also kept specimens for himself and wrote about them in his expeditionary journal.

Syringa flower
Image Credit: manfredrichter, Pixabay

How Was the Syringa Chosen as the State Flower?

The Syringa was a favorite amongst Idahoans, who incorporated it into their state symbol as early as 1890. After a vote by a women’s committee in Boise, the Syringa won out. The seal depicts a Syringa bush growing at the feet of a goddess. The Syringa also represented Idaho at the 1893 World Fair. However, it wasn’t officially adopted as the state flower until the state legislature made it official in 1931.

It’s thought that the plant’s fragrance and prevalence across the slopes of Idaho are responsible for it being chosen as the state flower. In late spring, the flowers turn hillsides all over the state a gorgeous white. They may not have the exotic beauty of other flowers, but they have a unique charm, nonetheless.

What Are Some Other State Symbols of Idaho?

Image Credit: Wounds_and_Cracks, Pixabay

The Syringa is just one of 16 symbols officially adopted by the Idaho state legislature, all selected for their importance to the state. Let’s check out some of the other state symbols of Idaho.

Idaho State Symbols:

State Amphibian: Idaho giant salamander
State Bird: Mountain bluebird
State Fish: Cutthroat trout
State Fruit: Huckleberry
State Insect: Monarch butterfly
State Motto: Esto Perpetua
State Nickname: Gem State
State Vegetable: Potato

Known for its vast, rugged landscapes, potatoes, and gems, some of these are no-brainers. For example, the nickname was chosen because almost every type of gemstone has been found in the state, including the biggest diamond ever found in the U.S. The potato was also pretty obvious since the state grows a third of all the potatoes in the U.S.

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Idaho is one of the most beautiful states in the country, although it’s often overlooked. The state flower, the Syringa, has a rich history encompassed by the Lewis-Clark expedition, Native Americans, and more.

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Featured image Credit: Kapa65, Pixabay


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