Chosen for its historical significance, the Ohio state flower is the carnation. Ohio chose the flower as the state flower to honor William McKinley who was once the governor of Ohio and later president of the United States. McKinley often wore a red carnation. Ohio is the only state which has chosen the carnation, a flower full of historical significance, for its state flower.
Scholars disagree on the historical meaning of the name of the flower. Some scholars relate the name for the Ohio state flower, carnation, to the word coronation as the flower was used in the crowns of the ancient Greeks. The flower may even have originated in the Mediterranean region, but people are unsure due to the flower’s popularity in planting and breeding. Other scholars believe that the name for the Ohio state flower comes from a Latin word for flesh referring to the original pinkish-purple color of the flower or perhaps even related to the Latin word for incarnation referring to the incarnation of God in the flesh.
Continuing on in the flower’s religious significance, the carnation at times is believed to have been created at the time when Jesus was carrying the cross. There is a belief that each of Mary’s tears as she followed Jesus with his cross was turned into a flower: the carnation. This relation to Mary, mother of Jesus, may be part of the reason why the Ohio state flower is related to a mother’s love. Another reason that the carnation is related to mother’s day is because the founder of mother’s day chose that as the flower for the holiday. She chose this flower because it was her own mother’s favorite flower. She originally chose the pure white carnation to represent the purity of a mother’s love, but the meaning has changed over time. Now a red carnation represents a living mother and a white carnation a mother who has died.
Loaded with history and significance, the carnation—along with the rose—is one of the flowers representing love and admiration. Different colors of carnation naturally represent different types or statuses of love, the striped carnation being the saddest—love that cannot be shared. Even the green carnation (I can’t think of many green flowers) can represent homosexuality, because Oscar Wilde often wore this color of carnation.
I think it is interesting that carnations often gather their meaning or historical significance from the people who wore them: they are related to mothers because of Mary; the significance of the green carnation comes from Oscar Wilde; they were chosen for the Ohio state flower because of United States President, William McKinley—considering the meaning of the color of carnations, my favorite meaning is for the purple carnation. The purple carnation can mean whimsy, but is also often carried at funerals. The reason that this is my favorite is because those two meanings seem to contradict one another. Generally those who died are not the ones who change their mind and decide to do something else, so I think that it is funny that a flower which represents variability also is carried for those who are least likely to change.