The Passion Flower Celebrates 100 Years as the State Flower of Tennessee

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State Flower of Tennessee

Photo by PixelAnarchy via Pixabay

In 1919, the passion flower, Passiflora incarnata, received the title of official State Flower of Tennessee. Senate Joint Resolution 13 had provided that the schoolchildren of Tennessee would choose the state flower, and the passion flower won the vote. But in 1933, Senate Joint Resolution 53 named the iris as the state flower. To prevent confusion, the 88th General Assembly designated the passion flower as the state wildflower and the iris as the state cultivated flower in 1973.

Today, the passion flower also shares its title with the Tennessee echinacea. In 2012, Governor Bill Haslam signed Senate Bill No. 2976, which assigned the Tennessee echinacea, more commonly known as the Tennessee coneflower, as the second official state wildflower. Learn more about all three state flowers of Tennessee below.

Passion Flower

State Flower of Tennessee

Photo by annca from Pixabay

The passion flower grows in the wild in the southern United States and throughout South America. The Native Americans called the flower “0coee” and prized it as one of their most beautiful flowers. The flower also goes by the name of maypop and wild apricot. Its official name, however, comes from the Christian missionaries in South America who saw symbols of the crucifixion in the flower’s blooms and called it the passion flower.

Tennessee Echinacea

State Flower of Tennessee

Photo by Couleur via Pixabay

One of the few flowers that only exists naturally in the Middle Tennessee area, the Tennessee echinacea (Echinacea tennesseensis) grows in certain glades near Nashville. It was thought to be extinct for 50 years until botanist Elsie Quarterman rediscovered it in the 1960s. After her discovery, land was set aside to protect the flower, which remained on the Federal Endangered Species List until 2011. After years of conservation efforts, the Tennessee echinacea is still rare in the wild, but scientists now consider the population sustainable.


Photo by JacLou DL via Pixabay

There are about 170 species of iris, which come in many different colors. Although the 1933 act that named the iris as the state flower did not specify a particular variety, the purple iris is commonly accepted as the state cultivated flower. Every April, the small town of Dresden hosts the Tennessee Iris Festival, a weeklong event that celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2019.

SEE MORE: Tennessee Iris Festival Blooms in Dresden

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