What Is the State Flower of Idaho?

Angela Farrer
Angela Farrer
Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

The state flower of Idaho is the syringa mock orange, which is also sometimes known by its Latin name: Philadelphus lewisii. The syringa typically blooms throughout the late spring and early summer, and it is found growing on deciduous shrubs that commonly thrive in the local climate of this state. Syringa blooms are known for their thick white petals and hearty resistance to drought and harsh weather. This plant was chosen as the state flower of Idaho following the results of a design contest for the state seal soon after Idaho was granted official statehood.

Syringa shrubs are able to grow up to 8 or 9 feet (2.4 to 2.7 m) high in the wild and are still common in many wilderness areas of the state. Long before its adoption as the state flower of Idaho, local Native American tribes used the plants' extracts for several different purposes. They often milled soap from the mock orange leaves and bark; they also fashioned weapons, snowshoes, and farming tools from the syringa branches.

Idaho was admitted to the United States in the summer of 1890, and state leaders recognized the need for a state symbol such as a seal in order to give the new state's residents a feeling of common identity. Many of them recognized the tendency of some citizens to feel more connected to their state flowers than to one national flower. One of the state legislature's first orders of business was to organize an art and design contest with a prize of $100 US Dollars (USD) going to the winning design for the new state symbol. An artist from New York named Emma Sarah Etine Edwards won the contest with her drawing of a state seal that featured a syringa mock orange blossom. Edwards had recently arrived in Idaho on her way to a teaching job in California but decided to stay in Boise because of how much she liked the area and the people.

A few years after the design contest, the syringa mock orange flower was selected to represent Idaho at the 1893 Chicago-based World Exposition. Although the mock orange was designated the state flower of Idaho before the end of the nineteenth century, it was not officially adopted by written statute until 1931. Despite the fact that the process took several decades for the state flower of Idaho to appear in the legislature's declarations and statutes, the syringa was already well-established in the minds of many long-term Idaho citizens.

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I have lived in Idaho most of my life, and know the Idaho state motto is, "Let it be Perpetual". This is supposed to mean something about being forever.

I don't know much about the history behind it, I just remember studying about it in history class. This motto is also on our state seal and state flag.

The state bird of Idaho is the bluebird. This makes a little more sense to me, as I always see a lot of these in the spring.

I know some people in other parts of the country have a hard time getting bluebirds to nest in their yard. Any time I have put up a blue bird house, I always get them to nest.

They are beautiful, cheery birds that I really enjoy seeing around my yard.


@John57 - I have been through the state of Idaho, and it is a beautiful state. I don't remember seeing the mock orange, but know the Idaho state tree is the White Pine.

This is something you can definitely smell when you are close to them. The smell of fresh pine is invigorating and they have a lot of them.

When I lived in Iowa their state flower is the wild rose. I think there are several states that have this as a state flower.

About the only time I saw this was when I was driving around the country and saw it growing. It is different than the roses you see people planting around their homes. The wild rose has smaller blooms, but is still fragrant.

I always find it fascinating to know that a state motto, flower and song are. It gives you a quick history lesson on what the state stands for and what their climate is like.


I wonder if Idaho is the only state that has the mock orange as its state flower?

I don't live in Idaho, but have a climate similar to it and have never had good luck getting this to grow in my area.

I live in Zone 5 and we get cold winters and have been known to have very dry summers. After trying more than once, I finally gave up.

The beautiful white blossoms with the sweet orange fragrance was something that always appealed to me.

I wonder if you can smell this fragrance as you are driving through the state of Idaho. There are a lot of wide open spaces in this state, and that would certainly add a nice touch to the landscape.


@Denha- I think that commonly, though, the fact that something is popular or numerous in a state is why it's a symbol. I went to school in Minnesota, which even has a state muffin- blueberry- and I don't have any idea why it would. I didn't even know until I looked it up for something else. All these state symbols are kind of strange, but I guess it shows the different reasons that people have to be proud of their states.


All states have their own symbols, but it's hard to know the facts about why. I like that Idaho picked something so useful, and it makes sense. The mock-orange is plentiful in Idaho, and it's useful in so many ways. I used to live in Ohio, and as far as I know, the buckeye was the state tree merely because there were so many.

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