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.