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Where to see official state flowers

Bluebonnets, the Texas state flower, flourish alongside a country road. | Photo by Davis Althaus Bluebonnets, the Texas state flower, flourish alongside a country road. | Photo by Davis Althaus

While the pandemic has transformed our world in countless ways, the virus hasn’t altered this immutable fact: Winter still gives way to spring and the bloom of flowers, including beloved state flowers. Listed here: eight iconic official state flowers and great spots to see them.

1. California: California Poppy

California poppy. | Photo by Sandi Teel

California poppy. | Photo by Sandi Teel

Each spring, the Golden State’s gold-orange poppies brighten fields and hillsides, turning sometimes drab landscapes into Technicolor scenes straight out of Oz. 

When: March to May 

Where: The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve north of Los Angeles. 

2. New Mexico: Yucca Flower

New Mexico yucca in bloom. | Photo by stock.adobe.com

New Mexico yucca in bloom. | Photo by stock.adobe.com

With their fragrant pale-yellow flowers atop tall, gnarled stalks, yuccas were nicknamed Lámparas de Dios (or Lamps of the Lord) for their bioluminescence. 

When: May to June

Where: White Sands National Park, where soaptree yuccas rise against a backdrop of snow-white dunes.

3. Texas: Bluebonnet

Bluebonnet. | Photo by Mary Hudnall

Bluebonnet. | Photo by Mary Hudnall

These indigo beauties line roadsides thanks to the Texas Highway Department and former FLOTUS and Texas native Lady Bird Johnson, who championed the Highway Beautification Act of 1965.

When: March to April

Where: Texas Hill Country, including Ennis’ famed Bluebonnet Trails.

4. Kansas: Sunflower

Sunflower in a field of sunflowers. | Photo by stock.adobe.com

Sunflower in a field of sunflowers. | Photo by stock.adobe.com

The glorious sunflower is not only the state’s emblematic bloom, but also the nickname for Kansas: the Sunflower State.

When: Late July to September 

Where: Leavenworth County, which is home to Grinter’s Sunflower Farm.

5. Mississippi: Magnolia

Magnolia blossoms. | Photo by naya/stock.adobe.com

Magnolia blossoms. | Photo by naya/stock.adobe.com

In the Magnolia State, few things are sweeter than a spring afternoon, sippin’ iced tea, and lazing in the shade of a tree heavy with creamy-white magnolia blossoms. Louisiana also claims the magnolia as its state flower.

When: April to May

Where: Along the Natchez Trace Parkway in southwest Mississippi.

6. Alabama: Camellia

Red camellia blossom. | Photo by stock.adobe.com

Red camellia blossom. | Photo by stock.adobe.com

Native to Asia, this elegant import has found a sweet home in Alabama. Of the hundreds of known camellia species, the state’s official variety is Camellia japonica L.

When: December to March

Where: The Bellingrath Gardens and Home near Mobile. 

7. New Hampshire: Purple Lilac

Purple lilac. | Photo by 8H/stock.adobe.com

Purple lilac. | Photo by 8H/stock.adobe.com

In May, the sweet scent of lilac perfumes Granite State air. The lilac was named the state flower because it symbolizes New Hampshirites’ hardy character: a lilac bush can live more than a hundred years and even survive prolonged sub-zero temps.

When: May

Where: Route 108 near Skyhaven Airport.

8. Virginia: American Dogwood

American dogwood in bloom. | Photo by sartori/stock.adobe.com

American dogwood in bloom. | Photo by sartori/stock.adobe.com

The state flower does double duty as the state tree, which can grow up to 40 feet high and blossoms with small, four-petaled flowers in white, pink, or red. 

When: April to June

Where: Monticello. Descendants of the flowering trees that Thomas Jefferson admired on his property thrive today.

AAA Travel Alert: Many travel destinations have implemented COVID-19–related restrictions. Before making travel plans, check to see if hotels, attractions, cruise lines, tour operators, restaurants, and local authorities have issued health and safety-related restrictions or entry requirements. The local tourism board is a good resource for updated information.

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