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What Is the State Flower of Nebraska? History & Facts

goldenrod flowers

Like every other state in the US, Nebraska has a state flower. Presently, each state’s local government designates an official flower to represent the state. This decision can be made based on the flower’s rampant availability or its historical implication to the state.

The official flower of Nebraska is the goldenrod, which was declared the state flower at the Nebraska state fair in 1895. It was chosen “to foster a feeling of pride and stimulate an interest in the history and traditions of the commonwealth.”

Read on below to find out more.

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About the Goldenrod flower

goldenrod flower
Image Credit: Sabrina, Pixabay
Subdivision Spermatophytina
Class Magnoliopsida
Superorder Asteranae
Order Asterales
Family Asteraceae
Genus Solidago

The goldenrod is a name given to a specie of flowering plant that falls under the family of Asteraceae. The goldenrod flower is a beauty to behold when in bloom. Its plants are tall, whispy, and thin and start to bud golden yellow flowers by late summer to early fall. The goldenrod plant is native to North America and was previously seen and regarded as intrusive weeds until farmers and gardeners began cultivating it and displaying its beauty. It is one of the favorite foods of the Monarch Butterfly.

A mature goldenrod plant is about 1.5 to 5 ft. tall and about 1 to 3 ft. wide. It thrives properly on well-drained soil and blooms from the summer through fall.

The goldenrod flower is fast becoming a favorite of homeowners because it is a low-maintenance plant. If the soil is right and it gets enough sun, it will bloom without struggle. They rarely experience pest diseases and can withstand a  lot of growing conditions that are likely to destroy young plants.

The goldenrod is a perennial plant, and it reproduces by dividing its roots to drop new seeds.

How Did the Goldenrod Become the State Flower of Nebraska?

The goldenrod speaks for itself as the floral emblem of Nebraska. There is hardly a corner with fertile land where you would not spot one or more species of the goldenrod. Before officially winning the title, there was some sort of debate in the house of representatives. A senator, Senator John Sprecher, wanted to use the Violet as the state flower instead. Senator Sprecher supported his suggestion with “eloquent poeticism” about the Violet and did almost succeed. However, with the majority rooting for goldenrod, the goldenrod won and claimed the title.

The goldenrod was selected because of its resilience and its surplus availability all over the state. The election was conducted by Governor Silas Holcomb at a state fair in 1985, and the 17th of September was declared as “Goldenrod Day.”

judge working on documents
Image Credit: Freedomz, Shutterstock

The Goldenrod and Its Significance to Nebraska

The goldenrod has about 100 to 120 species scattered across the state of Nebraska. One of the reasons for the dominance of the flower around the state is the sparse availability of several species of this plant all over Nebraska. The flowers are found in meadows, savannas, ditches, roadside, and prairies all over the state. The species can be individually identified by the shape of the petal, the pattern of growth on the plant stem, and the size of the plant.

The Nebraskans especially love being associated with the goldenrod because of its hardiness. It has the capacity to thrive in almost any condition, and this is a trait that the Nebraskans admire and try to follow.

The Goldenrod park in Bellevue and the Goldenrod lane in Lincoln are named by the Nebraskans after the goldenrod flower in celebration of the name.

Brief History

The early native Americans used the late bloom of the goldenrod flower to their advantage. In the days when hunting was very common, Native Americans would spend most of their summer days hunting for Buffalos, knowing that their planted corns were about to get ripe. The appearance of the goldenrod flower blooms was an indication that the summer was almost over, and their plants were almost ready to be harvested.

Another reason why the Nebraskans liked the goldenrod plant was that they believed it had healing powers. They usually made tea from the plant, which they used in treating heart conditions. Also, they used an ointment they made from it to treat muscle pain and bee stings

Image Credit: hansbenn, Pixabay

Fun Facts about the Goldenrod Plant

Here are some facts about goldenrod plants:
  • The goldenrod flower was used as a source of dye to change the color of clothes and hair to yellow.
  • Native Americans will chew the leaves of the goldenrod to cure toothache.
  • The goldenrod is one of the most effective treatments for Urinary Tract Infections. In fact, the goldenrod is notable for a lot of medical treatments. All the parts of the goldenrod plant that grow above the ground have medical uses. Some of the medical benefits of the goldenrod are soothing sore throat, healing heart conditions, flushing out kidney and bladder stones, and aiding digestion.

Common Problems

One of the common downsides of the goldenrod is that it spreads too fast. This is one of the reasons it has been referred to as an invasive weed. One challenge that planters might have is how to control its growth in order to prevent it from spreading to places where you do not want it.

A common method that farmers use to curb this is by growing the plants in containers or placing them in a garden bed that has barriers and can restrict their growth activities to the bed.

Another way to curb this fast growth is by dividing the goldenrod plant often. This way, it will not have the opportunity to expand and start spreading.

goldenrod flowers
Image Credit: Piqsels

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The goldenrod plant is a favorite plant to most Nebraskans. Its accurate representation of their culture and its health benefits help to accentuate its use.

See Also: 63 Wildflowers That Grow in Nebraska (Identification Guide with Pictures)

Featured Image Credit: Gabriela Beres, Shutterstock


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