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What Is the State Flower of New Hampshire? How Was It Decided?

purple lilac

For more than a century, New Hampshirites have celebrated their state through an iconic flower, the purple lilac. This flower is a symbol of the New Hampshire people to this day. In 1992, New Hampshire decided to add to their state symbols with an official wildflower native to New Hampshire. The official state wildflower is the Pink Lady’s Slipper.

garden flower divider

Deciding the New Hampshire State Flower

Today, all 50 states have a designated state flower. But this wasn’t always the case—state flowers only became popular in the early 1900s. By 1919, New Hampshire was ready to jump on the trend. All sorts of flowers were proposed—from apple blossoms to goldenrods to mayflowers. After a long debate, the Purple Lilac was chosen. It wasn’t just a beautiful flower—the lawmakers decided that this plant was a symbol of New Hampshire because of its hardy character, symbolizing the rugged, hardy men and women that settled in the Granite State.

purple lilac
Image Credit: Pixabay

About Purple Lilacs

Lilacs are native to Europe and Asia, where there are hundreds of varieties in all sorts of colors. The first Purple Lilacs in New Hampshire were imported from England. They have rich purple blossoms that range from the palest lavender to a rich, deep shade of lilac and a heady, fragrant scent.

These flowers are perfect for New Hampshire’s climate because they are very resistant to cold and ice and bloom during the wet springs. They attract lots of butterflies into gardens and add their beautiful blooms to many New Hampshire gardens.

Pink Lady’s Slipper—the State Wildflower

Along with the Purple Lilac, New Hampshire also has a designated state wildflower. The Pink Lady’s Slipper was chosen in 1992 to represent the native flowers and plants of the state. It’s a rallying point for environmental protection and wildland conservation efforts in New Hampshire. Pink Lady’s Slippers are a type of wild orchid native to North America, including New Hampshire. They have bright, showy pink flowers that do look a little like a slipper or moccasin. Despite the name, the blooms occasionally come in other colors, such as white.

They aren’t endangered, but habitat loss means that it’s harder to find these bright flowers than it was in the past. These flowers are also unique because they are so difficult to grow outside of their native soil. They require highly acidic soil and although it’s possible to keep potted Pink Lady’s Slipper flowers, they require special water and nutrients to stay alive. New Hampshirites are lucky to have the perfect habitat for these flowers to grow right at home in their moist forests.

garden flower divider

Last Thoughts

If you ever visit New Hampshire, keep an eye out for the state flower and state wildflower. Purple Lilac flowers bloom in New Hampshire parks and gardens every year, bringing butterflies into the area and filling the air with a sweet fragrance. The Pink Lady’s Slipper is a little more elusive, but if you spend time hiking in New Hampshire’s forests, you’ll be able to find these beautiful and unique blooms.

See also: 10 Wildflowers That Grow In New Hampshire (Identification Guide with Pictures)


Featured Image Credit: Adina Voicu, Pixabay

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