We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is the State Flower of West Virginia?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
America Explained is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At America Explained, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The state flower of West Virginia is the shrub Rhododendron maximum. First introduced to England by John Bartam and Peter Collison in 1736, this type of rhododendron in also called great laurel or rose bay. Its flowers are either white or pale pink in color and large in size, even in comparison to many other types of rhododendron. Since West Virginia is The Mountain State, the official Rhododendron maximum flower is often confused with others because of their common names.

Both the Rhododendron catawbiense and the Kalmia latifolia are known as mountain laurels. Yet, it is the Rhododendron maximum, or great laurel, that is the state flower of West Virginia, not the ones with "mountain" in their common names. To make things even more confusing, The Mountain State's official flower does have "laurel" in its common name as well. In appearance though, there are more differences than similarities between the great and mountain laurels.

The great laurel is larger than mountain laurels and has bigger flowers, although all are from the Ericaceae or Heath family. While all three shrubs have attractive dark green leaves, Rhododendron maximum's are the largest. Rhododendron catawbiense's blooms are purple or dark pink rather than white or light pink. Kalmia latifolia's flowers may feature pink stripes and are quite small in size. The whites or pinks of the state flower of West Virginia may feature some colored specks of red or yellow.

The Rhododendron maximum blooms in early to late summer along the east coast of the United States. It grows best in acidic soils in damp, shady areas. This great laurel or rose bay shrub has fluffy, showy clusters of flowers and large, elongated oval leaves. In cold weather, the leaves can roll up to form hollow cylindrical shapes. The Rhododendron maximum tends to grow almost wall-like as it can get very dense.

The rose bay or great laurel was chosen by the legislature as West Virginia's state flower in January of 1903. The selection was made after a vote by public school students as well as a recommendation by the governor. House Joint Resolution 19 of 1903 was adopted by the legislature in order to make the Rhododendron maximum the official state flower of West Virginia. The resolution cites the reason for choosing the great laurel as official flower, other than the governor's recommendation and students' vote, as "...Many of our sister states have adopted some floral emblem."

America Explained is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Link to Sources
Discussion Comments
By anon232151 — On Nov 29, 2011

I have been wondering what the time of year that the rhododendron has maximum blooms. It is for my science class? If

I could get an answer back immediately, that would be great.

By bagley79 — On Nov 23, 2011

I don't live in this state, but enjoy growing the West Virginia state flower in my own garden.

I have some rhododendron flowers in my yard that I look forward to seeing their purple blooms each spring. They are one of the earliest blooming flowers I have, and to me this is a sure sign that spring really is coming.

These plants have very nice leaves that are attractive any time of year, but especially beautiful when they are in bloom.

The only thing I don't like about them is that the blooms never last long enough. They don't grow very fast, but that is OK with me because I really liked the size they were when I bought them.

Knowing how beautiful they are when in bloom, I can see how these mountain laurels would be especially attractive in their natural habitat.

By sunshined — On Nov 22, 2011

Since I love flowers and gardening, I find it interesting to read about what different state flowers are. The wild rose is my state flower.

It seems like most state flowers are ones that are readily found in that state, easy to grow and flowers that most people have heard of.

The West Virginia state tree is the sugar maple, which is common in many states. When I was in the 5th grade, we had to do an extensive history report on our state.

This is when I learned what some of these facts are about the state I live in. Many of them have sate birds, a state motto and flag as well.

America Explained, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

America Explained, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.