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What Is the State Flower of Georgia?

By Emily Espinoza
Updated May 17, 2024
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The state flower of Georgia is the Cherokee rose, or Rosa laevigata. The flower grows on an evergreen climbing shrub with many glossy leaves. It originated in China, but has long been found in gardens throughout the state of Georgia. The Cherokee rose is also tied to the history of Georgia and the Cherokee Indians for whom the flower is named. It has been the state flower of Georgia for many years and is a treasured part of the culture of the state.

The Cherokee rose is a small white flower with a yellow center that grows surrounded by thick thorns and leaves. It can grow as a mounded shrub or a climbing plant that will cover fences or trellises. It is a hardy plant that once established will continue to grow for a very long time and can survive drought conditions. The blooms appear in spring but, on very hardy plants, may bloom again closer to the fall. The shrub has its origins in China but became a common sight in gardens in the United States during the early 1700s.

The state flower of Georgia got its name from the Cherokee Indians who lived in the area and were known for distributing the flower. The Cherokee rose is also tied to the story of "The Trail of Tears," the name for the forced migration of the Cherokee out of Georgia and onto designated reservations. The trail was so named because of the tears that the Cherokee women were said to have shed along the way, giving rise to the legend that a Cherokee rose sprouted along the trail for each tear that was shed. The Cherokee believed that these flowers were a gift in response to their prayers asking for a sign of hope. In 2011, Cherokee roses still grow along this historic trail and are remembered as part of the story of the Cherokee people.

The Cherokee rose was designated the state flower of Georgia in 1916 and was supported by the Georgia Federation of Women's Clubs as the favorite choice. There are numerous businesses in the state that use the Cherokee rose as part of their slogan, name, or logo. Its name and likeness are also used for many cultural events in the state including pageants, festivals, and contests. The plant is fast-growing and is abundant in gardens and landscaped areas all across the state, just as it has been since it was first introduced to the area.

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Discussion Comments
By bagley79 — On Feb 13, 2012

When we were visiting Georgia, we actually visited the historic "Trail of Tears". I found this story fascinating and imagined how hard it must have been for the Indian women to be forced to be moved from their home.

There were many historical places of interest along this trail, and the significance of the Cherokee rose flower was explained.

I like all types of roses, but found the white flowers with the yellow centers to be very pretty. I saw these flowers growing along the trail and also along fences in residential neighborhoods.

During my visit to this state I also learned that the state bird of Georgia is the brown thrasher. This bird is almost a foot long and was also pointed out to me when we were visiting some of the historic places.

By golf07 — On Feb 12, 2012

I don't know if you would find the Cherokee rose in many flower shops in Georgia, but you don't have to look long to see them in the landscape.

I have always loved the look of this flower and have been fascinated with the story behind its name. There are some gardeners who see this as being somewhat invasive though.

Because it is so hardy and tolerates our long, dry summers in Georgia, it seems to grow just about everywhere.

I have a trellis in my yard that is completely covered with this flower. In the spring this is quite a sight to see. I have always hoped it would bloom again in the fall, but so far it never has.

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