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What Is the State Flower of Maine? How Was It Decided?

white pine cone

The state flower of Maine is the white pine cone and tassel. Even though the pine cone and tassels are not technically flowers, they have been the floral emblem of the state since 1895, and there is no talk of legislators changing the flower anytime soon.

For a closer look at why state legislators settled on the pine cone and tassel, keep reading.

garden flower divider

The State Flower of Maine – The White Pine Cone

The white pine cone is the state flower of Maine. The pine cone and tassel is found on the white pine, which is the largest conifer throughout the northeastern region of this nation. This tree also happens to be the state tree of Maine.

This tree is notable for having soft needles that are flexible and bluish green or silver-green. There are normally five bundles of needles, and they are about 2.5–5 inches long. The pine cones are often slightly open and rather large. The vibrant green tassels are a great addition to the pine cone.

pine cone
Image Credit: Osman Rana, Unsplash

Is a Pine Cone a Flower?

Technically, no, the pine cone is not a flower, meaning the official state floral emblem of Maine is not a flower. Maine is the only state whose state flower is not a true flower. Instead, the white pine cone is a gymnosperm, which means it produces seeds without any flowers.

White pine cones can be male or female. The male cones are small and fall off once pollination has occurred. The females are much larger. They continue to grow after pollination, and it can take years for the female pine cone to mature and fall off the tree.

pine cone
Image Credit: Mabel Amber, Pixabay

Why Did Lawmakers Select the White Pine Cone?

Given that the white pine cone is not an actual flower, it’s natural to wonder why lawmakers selected this gymnosperm to begin with.

Maine lawmakers settled on the white pine cone all the way back in 1895. During that time, Maine was called The Pine Tree State. This nickname remains today. The white pine specifically appeared on numerous state emblems, such as the flag, seal, and even the state quarter.

The white pine cone was selected due to the 1893 World’s Fair that happened in Chicago. During this world fair, it was requested that legislators of all states add individual state flowers to the “National Garland of Flowers.” Most states selected their state flower, but Maine did not have one yet.

ponderosa pine trees
Image Credit: Dominic Gentilcore PhD, Shutterstock

It wasn’t until 1895 that Maine officially selected a floral emblem for the state. Legislators selected three possible candidates and selected the white pine cone and tassel as an option since it was used in the National Garland of the Flowers just two years before.

In addition to the pine cone, the apple blossom and goldenrod were candidates. Maine’s residents selected the white pine cone and tassel, and the rest is history. It was not shocking to legislators that the white pine cone was selected because of how popular this tree is and its importance within the region.

garden flower divider

Final Thoughts

To recap, the state flower of Maine is the eastern white pine cone and tassel. Technically, this is no flower at all, but that’s OK. The white pine cone has long been an important part of the state, which is why the state’s own residents voted for the white pine cone to become the state’s floral emblem.


Featured Image Credit: Aleksander Bolbot, Shutterstock

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