Illinois State Flower - Violet

Spring brings meadows of blue violets in Illinois.

Spring brings meadows of blue violets in Illinois.

As is the case with several state’s flowers, Illinois legislators neglected to narrow the choice to a specific species when creating the state flower’s statute. Illinois historians believe that Viola sororia is the true state flower, since it’s the state’s most common species. This viola grows 6 to 8 inches in height and blooms in Illinois from April to June.


Illinois’ blue violet is an aggressive grower, with two methods of spreading: seed and underground stems. Illinois homeowners frequently find the flowers popping up in lawns, vegetable gardens and other areas where they are not particularly welcome. On the other hand, a field in bloom with violets is a sight to behold, so the residents of the state have conflicted emotions about their state flower.


It was a women’s group that came up with the idea to create a garland out of each state’s flower for the 1983 World’s Fair. Few states had named an official flower at that time, so there was a rush to choose appropriate floral emblems. Like many states, the Illinois legislature put the choice to a vote among the state’s school children. There were three choices: the violet, the wild rose and goldenrod. The violet garnered over three times as many votes as goldenrod and handily beat the wild rose. The legislature declared the violet Illinois’ state flower in 1908.

Cultivation Notes

The blue violet is native to Illinois. A perennial plant, it grows from a rhizome and bears charming heart-shaped leaves. Although it tolerates full sun in Illinois gardens, it does best in either dappled or light shade and slightly moist soil. The biggest problems you may encounter when growing this violet occur when it is given too much water: over-watering the violet will kill it.. The blue violet requires slightly moist soil when grown under shady conditions, but the leaves will yellow if the soil dries out when the plant is grown in full sun. A moisture meter is a valuable tool to determine the soil’s moisture content.


The blue violet makes a lovely ground cover and it is frequently used as a lawn replacement. This is an edible plant and, although the leaves have little flavor, the flowers add color to salads. Native American tribes utilized the blue violet in a number of ways, including creating infusions and poultices from the leaves. Infusions were used to treat coughs, colds, blood disorders and dysentery. Crushed into a poultice, the leaves provided relief from headaches and boils.

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  • blue - violet flowers (forget-me-not) image by Vladimir Melnik from <a href=''></a>


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