Iowa State Flower

Wild Prairie Rose

Iowa State Flower - Wild Prairie Rose

(Rosa pratincola)

Adopted on May 7, 1897.

The Iowa Legislature designated the wild prairie rose, (Rosa pratincola,) as the official Iowa state flower in 1897. It was chosen for the honor because it was one of the decorations used on the silver service which the state presented to the battleship USS Iowa that same year.

Although no particular species of the flower was designated by the Legislature, the Wild Prairie Rose (Rosa Pratincola) is most often cited as the official flower. Rosa blanda is most often given the honor of being the state flower, even though it is common only in the northern half of the state.

Iowa State Flower: Wild Prairie Rose

Iowa State Flower - Wild Prairie Rose

Wild roses are found throughout the state and bloom from June through late summer. The flower, in varying shades of pink, is set off by many yellow stamens in the center. Rosa arkansana is a species of rose native to a large area of central North America, between the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains from Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan south to New Mexico, Texas and Indiana.

Characteristics of the Wild Prairie Rose

  • Shrub This shrub-like plant will grow to four feet tall.
  • Twigs red-brown with many straight spines and bristles.
  • Leaves alternate, pinnately compound, 5-9 leaflets; leaflets elliptic, 1.6-6.4 cm (0.6-2.5) inches in length; glabrous, lustrous above, soft pubescent beneath; acute at base and apex; margins coarsely toothed; petiole glabrous or somewhat pubescent; stipules adnate, 1-2.5 cm (0.4-1 in) in length, margins entire; rachis glabrous or somewhat pubescent.
  • Inflorescence a corymb, peduncles glabrous, flowers 2-4, 2.5-5 cm (1-2 in) in diameter; sepals 5, lanceolate, 1-1.2 cm (3/8-5/8 in) long; petals 5, white, obcordate; styles not exserted, but persistent; stamens numerous; flowers appear from May to August.
  • Fruit a hip, 12-15 mm (1/2-3/5 in) diameter, subglobose to ellipsoid, sepals ascending, red; nutlets flattened on one side, light tan, tuft of hairs at the base; fruits mature late August. It produces large showy pink flowers from June through late summer. The fruit, called "hips", resemble small apples, and are about half-inch in diameter.
  • Habitat: Rosa blanda (meadow rose) is found in Iowa's prairies, meadows, and open woodlands.
  • Medicinal uses: The Omahas steeped wild prairie rose hips and roots to treat inflammation of the eye. The Pawnees collected leaf galls which were crushed and applied to burns.

Adoption of the Iowa State Flower

A concurrent resolution, declaring the wild rose the official state flower of Iowa, was introduced in the Extra Session of the Twenty-sixth General Assembly of the State of Iowa by a Senator Mitchell on May 5, 1897. The concurrent resolution noted that the wild rose was inscribed on the silver setting presented to the USS Iowa that year. An initial vote in the Senate failed to approve the resolution.

The Senate sought the advice of the Iowa Federation of Women's Clubs meeting in Dubuque, Iowa. They had voted to select the wild rose as the official floral emblem of Iowa. On May 7, the concurrent resolution was reconsidered. The motion to reconsider prevailed.

The Extra Session of the Twenty-sixth General Assembly of the State of Iowa adopted the wild rose as the official state flower of Iowa on May 7, 1897.

WHEREAS, the Executive Council has authorized the wild rose of Iowa as one of the decorations on the silver service presented to the battle ship "Iowa;" therefore be it

Resolved, by the Senate the House concurring, That the wild rose shall be officially designated as the flower of the State.

A specific variety of wild rose was not named in the legislation though Rosa pratincola (Synonym: Rosa arkansana) is thought to represent the variety intended by the legislation. The wild rose, adopted by the concurrent resolution, is often referred to as the wild prairie rose today.

The Iowa Code

The wild rose was adopted by resolution of the Iowa General Assembly and is not included as statutory law in the Iowa Code

Taxonomic Hierarchy: Wild Rose

Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
    Subkingdom: Tracheobionta - Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta - Seed plants
    Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons
    Subclass: Rosidae
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae - Rose family
Genus: Rosa L. - rose
Species: Rosa arkansana Porter - prairie rose

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