North Dakota State Flower - Wild Prairie Rose

The wild prairie rose (Rosa blanda or Rosa arkansana) serves as the official floral emblem of North Dakota. While this plant’s native range covers a wide swath of the nation from the mid-west to the eastern seaboard, it is common along the roadsides, meadows and pastures of North Dakota.

Facts

The wild prairie rose can be found in all but six of North Dakota’s 53 counties -- McHenry, Towner, Foster, Nelson, Hettinger and Adams -- according to the United States Department of Agriculture. The flower is easy to identify by its five pink petals and yellow center. Wild prairie roses grow on an upright shrub with reddish brown wood and lots of thorns. The flowers, two to a stem, measure 1 to 2 inches in diameter.

History

Many states left the choice of the official floral emblem up to their school children. North Dakota officials took a cue from university students when choosing theirs. Members of the 1889 University of North Dakota graduating class were so enamored of the wild prairie rose that they chose it to reflect their class colors, claiming that the plant’s colors mirrored their “green prairies and rosy prospects.” A North Dakota women’s group was the first to suggest using the flower as the state emblem, the state’s school children agreed, and the choice was made official in 1907 by the Legislative Assembly of North Dakota.

Cultivation

In rose cultivation, wild roses like the wild prairie rose are known as species roses and one of the easiest types of roses to care for. The wild prairie rose grows in most soils and requires lots of sunlight. It does produce suckers, so it may need annual pruning. It is also susceptible to honey fungus, a mushroom that lives off the plant’s bark.

Uses

North Dakota’s Native American tribes used the wild prairie rose in a variety of ways. The Chippewa prepared an infusion from the roots and used it to treat convulsion and bleeding wounds. The Lakota tribes made tea from the flower’s petals and dried the rose hips for inclusion in soups. The Dakotas dried the hips and stashed them for use during times when food was scarce. They also smoked the plant's inner bark as a tobacco replacement.

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