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National & State Symbols
Oklahoma State Floral Emblem
Adopted in 1893.
Mistletoe, (Phoradendron seotinum,) is the oldest of Oklahoma's symbols, adopted first in 1893 as Oklahoma official state floral emblem, 14 years before statehood. Its greenery in the harsh winter months symbolizes the perseverance of early settlers. The colors of the foliage of mistletoe and its berries, green and white, are the state colors of Oklahoma. Mistletoe grows on trees throughout the state and is particularly common in the southern regions of Oklahoma. The dark green leaves and white berries show up brightly during the fall and winter in trees that have shed their own leaves.
Mistletoe a controversial choice for Oklahoma state flower
Alfalfa, forget-me-nots, roses were all discussed before mistletoe became Oklahoma's floral emblem.
BY MARY PHILLIPS firstname.lastname@example.org • Published: June 11, 2012
Oklahoma Floral Emblem: Mistletoe
Mistletoe, (Phoradendron serotinum,) the oldest of Oklahoma's symbols, adopted in 1893 - 14 years before statehood. Mistletoe grows on trees throughout the state and is particularly bountiful in the southern regions of Oklahoma. The dark green leaves and white berries show up brightly during the fall and winter in trees that have shed their own leaves.
Mistletoes are a group of vascular, flowering plants that parasitize stems of trees and shrubs. There are 700-1400 species (depending who you ask) of mistletoe worldwide found in the Viscaceae and Loranthaceae families, located mainly in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Even the family has several synonyms. Renamed by our own Dr. James Reveal as Phoradendron leucarpum (Johnston and Reveal), American mistletoe was previously know as P. serotinum, P. flavescens. Phoradendron has a wide geographic distribution and is found in the US from New Jersey to Florida to Texas. It has a broad host range and parasitizes mostly hardwoods.
Two genera of mistletoes grow in the United States: the "dwarf mistletoes" (genus Arceuthobium),and the "true mistletoes" (genus Phoradendron). An introduced mistletoe, the European Viscum album, has been found only in northern California--the apple growing region around Sebastopol and Santa Rosa. This mistletoe was presumably brought into this area inadvertently in the early 1900's on apple stock from Europe. Since then, it has spread over about a 16 square mile area, and is found on at least 20 other native and introduced hardwood tree and shrub species.
This family is characterized by semiparasitic plants, attached to trees or shrubs by haustoria, lacking ordinary roots, but having green (chlorophyllous) leaves and stems; leaves: opposite; flowers: inconspicuous; ovary: inferior; stamens: as many as and opposite the perianth-lobes.
The mistletoes are green, flowering plants that require a living host. Some are rather specific and grow on only a single genus of tree; others occur on a wide range of hardwood species. Even though they are completely parasitic, they do manufacture much of their own food materials by photosynthesis and in general require only water and mineral elements from the host plant. In the absence of the green aerial portions of the mistletoe plant, how ever, the root system of the parasite can utilize host nutrients and remain alive within an infected branch for many years. The mistletoes are dioecoius in that male and female flowers are borne on separate plants. Because male and female flowers are so similar in appearance it is difficult to tell the sex of the plant unless fruit are present.
Infection takes place by means of a specialized, penetrating structure that forces its way through the bark and into the living host tissues. Once infection has occurred, the root system of the parasite grows within the branch. The aerial shoot system begins to develop shortly after the root system is well established. Often several years are required after infection for a new seed bearing plant to develop. The parasite usually does not spread rapidly, but once a plant is established, the root system gradually extends up and down the branch. Defoliation or destruction of the aerial portion does not kill the mistletoe. New shoots may be produced from the root system or the parasite may survive and grow entirely within the infected host tissues. Not until the tree dies, or the infected portion dies or is removed, is the mistletoe killed.
The mistletoes are rather intolerant of cold and near their northern limits aerial shoots are frequently killed by low winter temperatures
The Oklahoma Statutes
The Oklahoma Statutes
§92. State floral emblem.
Taxonomic Hierarchy of the Christmas mistletoe
State Floral Emblems
Find images and a brief history of the flowers 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.