The Hawthorn Becomes Missouri’s State Flower: March 16, 1923

Hawthorn Missouri State Flower
Public Domain

The hawthorn was selected as our state flower on this date in 1923.

The hawthorn, specifically the white hawthorn blossom (Crataegus spp.), was chosen as Missouri’s state flower due to its abundance and significance in the state. The journey to its selection began in the early 20th century, during a time when states across the United States were selecting symbols to represent their unique identities.

In 1903, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) in Missouri proposed that the state adopt an official flower. Initially they suggested the wild crabapple, but after attempts to adopt this flower failed they switched the the daisy. Although the daisy garnered some support, it was also pointed out that the daisy was not native to North America, let alone Missouri, and as such did not deserve status as a state symbol. The hawthorn, on the other hand, is a native plant found throughout the state, known for its beautiful white blossoms and hardy nature. The hawthorn is a small tree or shrub that blooms in spring, producing clusters of white flowers followed by red berries, called haws.

The proposal to make the hawthorn the state flower was met with enthusiasm, as the plant was well-regarded for its beauty and its prevalence across Missouri’s diverse landscapes, with 75 individual species native to the state. It was seen as a symbol of the state’s natural beauty and resilience. The hawthorn’s ability to thrive in various soil types and its role in providing habitat and food for wildlife added to its appeal.

After a period of public support and legislative consideration, the hawthorn was officially designated as Missouri’s state flower on March 16, 1923, by an act of the Missouri General Assembly. The law specifically named the white hawthorn blossom as the state flower, recognizing its widespread presence and significance in the state’s flora.

Today, the hawthorn remains a symbol of Missouri’s natural heritage, celebrated for its delicate blossoms and its representation of the state’s beauty and strength.