Illinois is a state located in the Midwest region of the United States. Since 1908, the blue violet has been the official state flower of Illinois. This plant is characterized by tiny blue or purple blossoms which are slightly oblong and arranged in the shape of a star. The blooms first appear in April each year and last until early summer in most regions of the state. This native violet is a wildflower which can be transplanted as a potted plant or ground cover, and is eaten in some cases.
In 1907, a citizen from Rochelle, Illinois wrote to the state's governor, requesting schoolchildren choose a state flower. The next year, students overwhelmingly chose the violet over the wild rose and goldenrod. Legislation was introduced that same year, designating the blue violet the official state flower of Illinois.
The legislature did not specify a specific variety, however. Eight varieties of blue violet are found throughout the state, but the one most often associated with official state flower title is the woodyard violet. This one is the most common type and is found in all areas throughout the state of Illinois.
A blue violet is noted by its tiny light blue or blue-violet oblong petals. These petals form the shape of a star, with a small, protruding stigma or center. The blooms emit a slightly perfumed scent, attracting both bees and butterflies. They first appear in April and last until June in most areas of the state.
The state flower of Illinois has very large leaves, which may sometimes feel rough or fuzzy. There are typically two to three leaves per blossom. Each one tends to be somewhat larger than the blooms themselves, causing the flowers to sometimes be hidden by the foliage. These leaves are typically heart-shaped and very close to the ground. They range from light to medium green in color.
This plant can grow in a variety of soils and thrives in light conditions ranging from full sunlight to complete shade. The state flower of Illinois is normally a wildflower which is often found in deeply wooded areas. It may also be grown as a potted plant or used in landscaping as a type of ground cover.
While most people enjoy this state flower for its natural beauty, some people eat the blossoms. Traditionally, the blooms are picked and covered with sugar to make a sweet snack. Sugar-coated petals may also be used to decorate cakes, especially for summer weddings.