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Encyclopedia of Arkansas Minute: The State Flower

At the turn of the twentieth century, a fierce debate raged over which floral emblem would become Arkansas’s official state flower.

The Arkansas Floral Emblem Society canvassed women’s groups across the state on the subject, garnering votes for the holly, honeysuckle, passionflower, cotton boll, and apple blossom. The Arkansas Federated Women’s Clubs backed the passionflower, but Love Barton, head of the White County chapter of the Floral Emblem Society, supported the apple blossom, despite some opposition because of the apple’s role in Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

At the time, four hundred varieties of apples were grown in Arkansas, and apples from the state had won blue ribbons at the 1893 Chicago Exposition and 1900 Paris Exposition. Barton wrote letters to newspapers, an article in the Arkansas Gazette, and presented a bushel of polished Arkansas apples to the State Senate on January 30, 1901.

The blossom became the state flower two days later.

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Mark Christ produces and hosts Encyclopedia of Arkansas Minute on KUAR. He is head of adult programming for the Central Arkansas Library System. He previously served as community outreach director for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, which he joined in 1990 after eight years as a journalist.