What Is the State Tree of Missouri? How Was It Decided?
The “Show Me” state of Missouri is a popular Midwestern location known for great barbecue and beautiful scenery. It’s also well-known for its gorgeous state parks, popular landmarks, and innovative agricultural industry.
The state was founded in the fall of 1821 and since then has become an interesting cultural mix of Southern influence and midwestern flair. Its moderate temperatures and luscious landscapes make it one of the most eye-catching states in the Midwest and it’s home to many wildlife animals and forest preserves. But what is the state tree of Missouri?
What Is Missouri’s State Tree?
The Flowering Dogwood (scientific name: Cornus florida) is the state tree of Missouri. It’s an ornamental tree and is simply one of the many species of the Dogwood variety. You’ll also find these trees in other Midwestern states such as Ohio and Illinois, as well as in southern states, particularly various areas in Florida. They have dark brown bark and beautiful fruit that provides food for the various wildlife across the region.
Flowering Dogwood Characteristics
The Flowering Dogwood can grow anywhere from 30 to 40 feet in height and usually has a span of about 15 to 18 in. It’s technically a tree, but it can also be grown as a short shrub to accent the front of a home lawn or to line a driveway. Their beautiful white petals and bright red fruit make them stand out against other trees and they tend to live for about 80 years on average.
You may commonly see these trees and state parks, along rural roads, and even on open grassy plains. They are hardy to growing zones 3-9 and do best and moderate temperatures with partial to full sunlight.
The Flowering Dogwood requires moist, acidic soil to thrive and can be prone to common diseases and pest issues such as anthracnose, dogwood borers, scale insects, and powdery mildew. They are especially susceptible to these issues when they are in drought conditions and should be watered regularly when they are young or newly planted.
What Is the State Fruit of Missouri?
The state fruit of Missouri is the paw paw fruit, which grows on the Paw Paw tree (scientific name: Asimina triloba). The paw paw fruit has a flavor that tastes like a cross between a mango and a ripe banana. It even resembles a mango on the outside and has fibrous yellow meat on the inside.
You may not see these trees commonly in Missouri as they are more commonly found in western regions — though you can probably purchase them at specialty shops. This sweet fruit can grow up to 16 ounces in size and it’s actually listed as the biggest fruit native to the United States. This makes paw paw a bit difficult to transport, which is why many people who love the fruit choose to simply grow it on their own.
The paw paw fruit is more than just another tasty fruit, it’s also an excellent source of nutrition. Vegans and vegetarians flock to the paw paw as it has many of the essential amino acids needed for daily nutrition.
The fruit has three times as much Vitamin C as apples and as much potassium as bananas. You also get plenty of important nutrients like iron and magnesium. This fruit is also great for desserts like sorbet, ice creams, and pies. Paw paw can be used as a substitute for applesauce and bananas when baking.
Paw Paw Trees Appearance
The pawpaw tree can grow up to 20 to 40 feet high and have thick, heavy, and golden leaves in spring. In the fall, the leaves turn a rich, golden color. Growing paw paws in your garden means more butterflies and caterpillars, especially the zebra swallowtail butterfly, which eats only paw paws.
Sometimes, you can find pawpaw trees for sale in local nurseries, or you can search the internet to find pawpaw trees for sale around the country. For best results, purchase at least two trees that have not been cloned or siblings for pollination.
A bright and sunny spot with well-drained, rich soil is the best place for mature paw paws. For the first year, the seedling should be kept out of direct sunlight to avoid scorching. Start paw paw seeds with rich potting soil such as Miracle Gro or something similar. After a year, you can transplant them outdoors or in a bigger area– but they need a lot of attention starting out.
Be sure to water the plants thoroughly for the first year to ensure that it doesn’t fall into a drought state, which can cause it to quickly deteriorate. It also helps to place a layer of mulch on top of the soil to help prevent diseases and get the most out of each watering session. Anywhere from 2 to 4 inches of mulch should suffice.
The moderate weather and vast landscape make Missouri home to many types of wildlife, trees, and shrubs. Its state tree, the Flowering Dogwood tree is not only commonly found in Missouri, but it is commonly seen across many other Midwestern states. The state fruit of Missouri is the paw paw fruit, which is classified as the biggest fruit native to the United States. This fruit can be grown in a backyard or home garden fairly easily and is known for its many nutritional benefits.
Featured Image Credit: Dariush M, Shutterstock