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The Rose

National (U.S.) Flower

Red rose in full bloom; photo by Peggy Greb, courtesy USDA Agricultural Research Service Gallery: Plants.

National Flower of the United States

The rose was designated the official flower and floral emblem of the United States of America in 1986.

The rose is a symbol of love and beauty (as well as war and politics) the world over. Each of the 50 states has also adopted an official state flower, including the rose in New York, the Oklahoma rose in Oklahoma, the Cherokee rose in Georgia, and the wild prairie rose in Iowa and North Dakota. All State Flowers

The rose grows naturally throughout North America.  Roses are red, pink, white, or yellow and can have a wonderfully rich aroma.  The petals and rose hips are edible and have been used in medicines since ancient times.  Rose hips (the fruit of the rose which forms at base of the flower) are eaten in winter by wild birds and other animals.

The rose has played an important role in myth, history, and poetry from ancient times to the present. 

Native Marigold - Proposed U.S. Floral Emblem

There is support for designating the native marigold as official floral emblem for the United States. One proponent (Everett Dirksen) made a colorful argument in 1967:

Mr. President:

On January 8, 1965, I introduced Senate Joint Resolution 19, to designate the American marigold as the national floral emblem of the United States. Today I am introducing the same resolution with the suggestion that it again be referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

  • The American flag is not a mere assembly of colors, stripes and stars but it in fact symbolizes our origin, development and growth.
  • The American eagle, king of the skies is so truly representing of our might and power.
  • A national floral emblem should represent the virtues of our land and be national in character.
  • The marigold is a native of North America and can in truth and in fact be called an American flower.
  • It is national in character, for it grows and thrives in every one of the fifty states of this nation. It conquers the extremes of temperature. It well withstands the summer sun and the evening chill.
  • Its robustness reflects the hardihood and character of the generations who pioneered and built this land into a great nation. It is not temperamental about fertility. It resists its natural enemies, the insects. It is self-reliant and requires little attention. Its spectacular colors - lemon and orange, rich brown and deep mahogany - befit the imaginative qualities of this nation.
  • It is as sprightly as the daffodil, as colorful as the rose, as resolute as the zinnia, as delicate as the carnation, as haughty as the chrysanthemum, as aggressive as the petunia, as ubiquitous as the violet, and as stately as the snapdragon.
  • It beguiles the senses and ennobles the spirit of man. It is the delight of the amateur gardener and a constant challenge to the professional.
  • Since it is native to America and nowhere else in the world, and common to every state in the Union, I present the American marigold for designation as the national floral emblem of our country."