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What Is the State Flower of Ohio?

By Patti Kate
Updated May 17, 2024
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The flower of the state of Ohio is the scarlet carnation. The scarlet carnation belongs to the species of plant known as dianthus caryophyllus. The official state flower of Ohio was designated in the early 1900s, mostly as an homage to one of the state's most famous sons, President William McKinley.

During the 19th century, Ohio did not have an official state flower. Authorities chose the fruit-bearing buckeye tree to represent the state. Ohio is referred to as the buckeye state due to its abundance of buckeye trees.

The state legislature chose the scarlet carnation as Ohio's state flower on 3 February 1904. The 25th president of the United States, William McKinley let it be known that his favorite flower was the scarlet carnation. It has been said that the scarlet carnation was chosen as the official state flower of Ohio in reverence to this famous Ohioan.

William McKinley considered the scarlet carnation to be his personal symbol of good luck. During his campaign for president, McKinley kept a scarlet colored carnation pinned to his jacket lapel. The red carnation was actually given to him by his campaign adversary.

Some people refer to Ohio's state flower as the red carnation, as it is a deep red color. The official scarlet state flower of Ohio, however, was reproduced from seedlings in 1866 by local politician Levi Lamborn. It was Lamborn who gave McKinley a red carnation before one of their political debates.

The state flower of Ohio is also popular in floral arrangements and as a corsage for formal occasions. The carnation is generally able to withstand harsh winter climates, making it an ideal flower to thrive in Ohio. These perennials also require several hours of daily sunlight during cultivation. It is fairly common to see carnations of various colors in gardens and floral shops throughout the state of Ohio. It is said that the red carnation is a symbol of undying love, making it a popular flower for bridal bouquets, as well as Mother's Day offerings.

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Discussion Comments
By stolaf23 — On Jul 25, 2011

I lived in Ohio and did not know that about the carnation -- most people talk about the state in terms of the buckeye, both as the state tree and as the symbol of Ohio State Football. I honestly think that even the Ohio State flag, which has one version with a buckey next to the OSU's O, is better known than the official state flag.

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