In 1916, with the support of the Georgia Federation of Women's Clubs, the Cherokee rose was named the state floral emblem. The name "Cherokee Rose" is a local designation derived from the Cherokee Indians who widely distributed the plant. The rose is excessively thorny and generously supplied with leaves of a vivid green. In color, it is waxy white with a large golden center. Blooming time is in the early spring, but favorable conditions will produce, in the fall of the year, a second flowering of this hardy plant.
The Georgia State Flower, the Cherokee Rose, was adopted by the Georgia General Assembly as the floral emblem of the State of Georgia at the request of the Federation of Women's Clubs. It was adopted by Joint Resolution No. 42 approved on August 18, 1916. The text of the resolution follows.
FLORAL EMBLEM OF THE STATE No. 42
A RESOLUTION Whereas, In many of the States of the Union some flower indigenous to the soil of the State has been chosen as an emblem of its sovereignty; and Whereas, Hitherto the General Assembly of Georgia has made no such selection; and
Whereas, The Cherokee Rose, having its origin among the aborigines of the northern portion of the State of Georgia, is indigenous to its soil, and grows with equal luxuriance in every county of the State, Be it therefore by the House of Representatives of Georgia, the Senate concurring, resolved, That, at the suggestion and request of the Georgia Federation of Women's Clubs, the Cherokee Rose be and the same is hereby adopted as and declared to be the floral emblem of the state of Georgia.
A native of China, the Cherokee Rose arrived in the United States sometime in the early to mid 1700s. The Georgia State flower appeared in gardens in the mid-century in Georgia and was planted by the Native American Cherokee in northern Georgia not long after.
The Georgia state flower is forever linked to U.S. history through the “Trail of Tears,” a tragic event in 1838 in which thousands of Cherokee were forced out of Georgia and other lands east of the Mississippi River. According to legend, the path the Native Americans took was dubbed the “trail of tears” because of the tears shed by Cherokee women on the journey. Cherokee chiefs prayed for a sign to give their women hope and the strength to care for their children. It is said that wherever a tear dropped, a Cherokee rose bloomed. The flowers continue to bloom along the path today.
The Georgia State flower is used throughout the state for landscaping, but gardeners do tend to watch this rapid growing plant as it has the potential to take over beds of flowers. In addition, the flower is honored as numerous events such as the “Georgia Rose Scholarship Pageant” and the “Cherokee Rose Storytelling Festival.” Florists, landscape artists, and gardeners mostly enjoy having this Georgia State flower decorate and compliment their landscapes throughout the state. This is why the flower is here, and this is why the citizens of the state pay homage to their George State flower.