What Is The State Flower of Rhode Island?

The violet flower was selected as the state flower in 1897.
The violet flower was selected as the state flower in 1897.

Rhode Island is nicknamed the Ocean State and is officially known as the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. The state, located in the New England region of the United States, was one of the Thirteen Colonies. It is the smallest of the 50 states the 8th smallest by population with 1,056,426 people as of 2016 estimates. The state of Rhode Island has various state symbols, one of which is the state flower, the violet.

State Flower of Rhode Island

Rhode Island has had the violet sororia flower as its state flower since 1968. The flower is known as the common blue violet flower and it grows in the wild through insect pollination. It is often planted by people in their home gardens. The flower is native in North America where it served as a medicine for the Native Americans and could be eaten since the leaves were found to be edible. Apart from Rhode Island, the flower also serves as the state flower for the states of Illinois, Wisconsin, and New Jersey.

History of the Flower’s Recognition

School children in the state had voted to make the common violet blue as the state flower in 1897 during Arbor Day. Children all over the state had participated in a referendum vote that saw the common blue violet emerge at the top with more than 10,000 votes over ten other flowers that were up for consideration. The recognition came on March 11, 1968, when a bill sponsored by Francis Sherman was passed by the state assembly. Through this action, Rhode Island made history as the last state to have a flower as the state symbol. On July 31, 2001, the name of the flower was changed to viola sororia from viola palmate after Governor Lincoln Almond signed a bill, which was sponsored by the General Assembly into law.

Classification and Characteristics

The botanical name of the flower, Viola sororia, comes from the genus Viola and the species V. sororia. There are other hybrids of the violet flowers that are found in the North Eastern United States. The plant can grow to a height of between six to ten feet while its leaves can grow to a length of three inches. Common blue violet leaves are green and they bloom in the months of April and May each year. The edges of the leaves are serrated at the margins while its shape is oval. The petals are capable of hosting insects; its shape allows landing of the insects to take place. Due to the adaptability of the common blue violet, it is advisable to remove the plant manually by digging out its roots to prevent its spread.

Cultural Significance and Domestic Use

The flower can grow in well-drained soils as well as in clay soil. However, the flower is rarely found in the southern part of the state and it grows in areas like Warwick to Providence and up to the northern border of the state. Even when it is fully or partially exposed to the sun, the flower can still grow. Apart from being used to decorate cakes in homes, the flower can be added to salads since it is another source of vitamins A and C. The leaves can also be cooked along with other vegetables and served since they have a pleasant taste.


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