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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Where: Route 108 near Skyhaven Airport.
8. Virginia: American Dogwood
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.