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Adopted on April 28, 1997.
In 1897 Michigan legislators, feeling that "a refined sentiment" called for the naming of
a state flower, designated the apple blossom, (Pyrus coronaria.) Joint
Resolution 10 of that year noted "one of the most fragrant and beautiful flowered species of
apple, the pyrus coronaria, is native to our state." Legislators also proudly declared
that "Michigan apples have gained a worldwide reputation." A century later, Michigan ranks
second in the nation in apple production.
derives from a Norse word meaning scrub or rough, but the true ancestry of the original native
species of crab, Malus sylvestris, has been lost in time. We think it was first cultivated
by Neolithic cultures in Europe and traces of its existence near settlements from slightly
later periods have been recorded – mainly through remains of apple pips in charcoal.
Apples and crabapples are in the rose family, Rosaceae, in the genus Malus. Crabapples are
differentiated from apples based on fruit size. If fruit is two inches in diameter or less,
it is termed a crabapple. If the fruit is larger than two inches, it is classified as an apple.
Originally, the group of trees known as crab apples included only the most sour-fruited seedlings
from orchard varieties and also native species of apple, but now this group contains all varieties
of Malus except those considered to be orchard varieties.
Depending on the cultivar and spring temperatures, full bloom could occur as early as late
April or delay until mid-May. Flowers are classified as single (five petals), semi-double (six-ten
petals), or double (more than 10 petals). Double-flowering crabapples retain their flowers
longer than other types, but fruiting is usually sparse.
Blossom colors range from pearly white through delicate pinks to a deep red. There are even
cultivars with coral or salmon colored flowers.
The Apple Blossom
100 Years As The State Flower
(And The Story of a Pair Of Intriguing
People Who Helped Make It So)
One hundred years ago, the scent of fresh apple blossoms filled the state Capitol. Legislators
took notice. They named the apple blossom Michigan's state flower.
April 28, 1997, marked the 100th anniversary of this official designation.
Two citizens had eminent roles in the story behind this tribute. One was a northern Michigan
legislator with pioneer roots in Michigan pre-dating statehood in 1837. The other was a distinguished
63-year-old woman who pushed a wheelbarrowful of apple blossoms down Lansing's Capitol Avenue
and made the Capitol atmosphere fragrant.
The language of the 1897 resolution naming the state flower suggests that little has changed
in 100 years. It pointed out that "our blossoming apple trees add much to the beauty of our
landscape" --a still-true statement as 58,000 acres of commercial apple orchards and thousands
of home-grown apple trees attest. The aroma and delicate beauty of pink and white apple blossoms
help make springtime in Michigan a special experience.
The resolution also noted that "Michigan apples have gained a worldwide reputation." This
long-running renown is as strong as ever. Michigan now produces around a billion pounds of
apples each year, making the state not only a national, but a global leader.
The man who introduced this resolution was William Harris of Norwood, a shoreline community
south of Charlevoix where Grand Traverse Bay merges into Lake Michigan.
Harris migrated from New York state with his parents as a four-year-old in 1836 and settled
near Battle Creek in Michigan Territory. Thirty years later he moved north with his young family
to open a boarding house for dock and sawmill workers in Norwood. Subsequently he was a postmaster
and longtime township supervisor before being elected to the state House of Representatives.
He became so inspired by the beauty of a large apple orchard across from his home that he decided
such lovely blossoms should be adopted as the state flower.
His resolution, introduced February 9, 1897, meandered through the legislative process for
a couple of months. The final vote still hadn't been taken when apple trees burst into bloom
around mid-April, well ahead of normal, in the southern part of the state.
One colorful site during this early spring was the yard of Anna Eliza Woodcock, two blocks
north of the Capitol. She later told a reporter she knew the vote on the state flower was due
and was so taken by the beautiful new blossoms on her Snow apple trees that she decided to
cut off a few and trundle them in a wheelbarrow to the Capitol. There she located House Speaker
William Gordon's desk and chair and decorated them with her blossoms. Both the House and Senate
agreed that naming the apple blossom as the state flower was a good idea. The process was completed
Harris acquired the nickname "Apple Blossom William" for his role. Mrs. Woodcock later learned
how to make silk apple blossoms, enhancing her own reputation as "the apple blossom lady,"
and practiced her art into her 90s.
A century after passage of the 1897 resolution, Michigan residents can still be gratified
that the state has such a flood of apple blossom beauty each year to signal a new growing season
and a pending bountiful harvest of apples by the next autumn.
Source: Michigan Apple Committee
The Michigan Compiled Laws
J.R. 10 of 1897
STATE FLOWER (EXCERPT)
J.R. 10 of 1897
2.11 State flower.
WHEREAS, A refined sentiment seems to call for the adoption of a state flower; and
WHEREAS, Our blossoming apple trees add much to the beauty of our landscape, and Michigan apples
have gained a worldwide reputation; and
WHEREAS, At least one of the most fragrant and beautiful flowered species of apple, the pyrus
coronaria, is native to our state; therefore
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Michigan, That the apple
blossom be and the same hereby is designated and adopted as the state flower of the state of
History: 1897, J.R. 10, Imd. Eff. Apr. 28, 1897 ;-- CL 1897, 1755 ;-- CL 1915, 1096
;-- CL 1929, 133 ;-- CL 1948, 2.11
Taxonomic Hierarchy of the Sweet Crab Apple
||Plantae – Plants
||Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
||Spermatophyta – Seed plants
||Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
||Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
||Rosaceae – Rose family
||Malus Mill. – apple
||Malus coronaria (L.) Mill. – sweet crab
State Floral Emblems
Find images and a brief
representing, usually by legislative action, the
state symbols of each of the fifty states.
The term floral emblem, which refers to flowers specifically, is primarily used in Australia and Canada. In the
United States, the term state flower is more often used.