The B1G List: Ranking the State Flowers of the Big Ten

By Johnny Ginter on May 6, 2013 at 4:30p
The B1G List: State Flowers of the Big Ten


They're everywhere. Surrounding us. Plotting. Planning. Scheming.

Naw, just foolin'! As we discussed a few weeks ago, birds are the true messengers of Satan, not the lowly flower. Roses and carnations are okay, I guess, but if we're being real (realer than real), I have pretty much zero interest in the bourgeois nonsense that is the modern day house flower industry.

Nope, I like my flowers wild and free, like me. Plus, I'm always fascinated by the process in which a state actually goes out of its way to select a state wildflower. It's like magnets, man; how does it even work?

Still, many states are lame and do not have a designated wildflower, and in that instance I decided to debase myself by ranking their boring ol' regular flower instead. I know, I feel dirty too.

So today I've decided to talk a little about the wildflower or flower in question, and then offer up my best theory as to how it ended up as a meaningless symbol of a state that likely was trying to burnish its green thumb cred without actually having to do anything effectual that would actually burnish its green thumb cred. Enjoy!

11/10. Illinois/New Jersey: Violet


Look, violets are pretty cool, I guess. I'm not hating on violets. But they are definitely the cardinal of the state flower world. "Oh crap, everybody is hopping on the state flower train! What's a flower? Uuuuhhhh rose? Crap! Too obvious! Blue tick coonhound? Wait, that's a breed of dog. Vi-v... vvvvviolet! Boom! Done, let's go home, I'll order Dominos."

Northwestern grads might think this selection is pretty cool, but that is about it. Purple is an alienating color.

9. Wisconsin: Wood Violet

Viola papilionacea


"What's Illinois and New Jersey doing? Violets? Ahaha, I just got a great idea."

8. Nebraska: Goldenrod


Solidago gigantea

I haven't rewarded laziness in these lists, and I'm not about to start now. If a violet is the Faygo of state flowers, then goldenrod is the Mr. Pibb. I really don't know why states that are perceived as being boring and useless go out of their way to select symbols that subconsciously reinforce this. I mean, come on Nebraska, your state produced some of the most exciting football of the 90s! You can do better than freaking goldenrod.

"Well, we've got that one technicolor flower that eats frogs and sings songs from The Sound of Music." "No, no, that's not going to look good on a travel brochure, better use goldenrod."

7. Maryland: Black-Eyed Susan

Rudbeckia hirta

At first I was worried that the name of this was a reference to spousal abuse, which would've put this at the bottom of the list, but thankfully my fears were unfounded.

With that said, it's still a fairly boring, nondescript flower, and I like to think that the Maryland state legislature had a really busy day or something when they selected it as one of their state symbols. Honestly if it were just up to me, I'd place Randy Edsall in charge of selecting all of Maryland's state whatevers, because eventually I think everything else would eventually match their flag in being a psychotic kaleidoscope from hell.

6. Iowa: Wild Prairie Rose

Rosa arkansana

I'm a pretty big fan of the wild prairie rose, because even though it looks nothing like a rose in any way, shape, or form, it actually is a close relative to your mom's favorite once-a-year treat (she's eating them, don't tell dad), and I always enjoy a decent measure of subterfuge. And let's be honest, what's a better homage to the ultimate swindler Kirk Ferentz than a flower that lies about what it actually is, and then doesn't really deliver on what is promised?

"Oh, you know what would be even better than a rose? A wild prairie rose! ...Heh heh heh" (and thus, Congressman Sal P. Cooke scored a petty revenge against the more popular legislators in the Iowa statehouse).

5. Indiana: Peony

Indiana, the bouquet filler of states.


Peonies are pretty okay flowers, as far as state flowers go. Nothing too remarkable, but overall something that you'd add to your bouquet to convince someone that you spent more than $10.95 on it at Kroger. It probably won't work though, because everyone knows that they're strictly B or C tier flowers.

So what I'm saying is that Indiana knew exactly what it was doing when it selected the peony to represent it as a state.

4. Pennsylvania: Purple Crown Vetch

Securigera varia

I enjoy this selection for a number of reasons. First, Pennsylvania selected it as its "beautification and conservation plant," which is about as pompous a way you can say "state wildflower" as possible. Secondly, despite being a pretty bog standard pink flower cluster deal, it's actually an invasive species and is poisonous to horses. Oh, and it's basically a weed.

So, to recap: this is a dumb, arrogant selection of what at first appears to be a perfectly pleasant and upstanding plant, but in reality is a deadly vine that chokes the life out of everything it surrounds. No connection to events in the recent past there, no sir. Nope. No.


3. Minnesota: Pink and White Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium reginae)

Cypripedium reginae

I respect a flower that lives up to its promises.

2. Michigan: Dwarf Lake Iris

Iris lacustris

Sooooo many questions. One: is it Dwarf Lake... iris? or Dwarf... lake iris? If it's the former, can I go to Dwarf Lake? If it's the latter, well, that's kind of boring. Also, I read the Wikipedia page for the iris and it says it's an iris without a beard. Does this mean it's just an iris that hasn't hit puberty? Or one that just doesn't grow facial hair very well? Why does it only grow on limestone outcroppings? What kind of elitist U of M BS is that? Too good for sandstone?!?

Anyway, I have to give Michigan credit for injecting an air of mystery into their decidedly non-mysterious state. In a somehow objective list of Big Ten state flowers (I really hope this doesn't actually exist), you might be number one.

1. Ohio: Large white trillium

Trillium grandiflorum

But this isn't a subjective list! It's rigged, all rigged, and Ohio of course comes out on top once again, in my continuing effort to find new things to make fun of the rest of the Big Ten about. My dream is that one day, someone will use these posts to make an actual argument about which school is superior in the B1G. That would be hilariously sad. Sadlarious.

But I digress. The large white trillium is a winner. Look at this freaking thing:


Truly a blend of genius and perfection, the large white trillium stands firm as proof of a just and loving God. Unlike any other flower before or hence, the large white trillium has petals, is of a pleasing white color, and can be found in the woods, on roadsides, and in fields. The Columbus Crew plays for the Trillium Cup in a rivalry game, and the large white trillium is a favorite of white-tailed deer (aka the king of all forest animals, according to the groundbreaking documentary Bambi).

Well, we did it again. After exhaustive and thorough analysis, Ohio again comes out on top. Truly, truly shocking, and hopefully the state can continue its winning streak next week as our team of scientists looks at the state songs of the B1G. See you next week.

The B1G List: State Birds | State Mottos | State Flowers


Comments Show All Comments

Hovenaut's picture

My inner Butthead laughs, repeatedly, at Nebraska.

Uh, huh huh huh.

Firmthyfriendship's picture

Yeah, this is where my mind went. Along the same vein. 

BrooklynBuckeye's picture

I thought the Ohio State Flower was the carnation, because President McKinley always wore one and was assassinated.
The story means it would definitely be number one on the list.

Jason Priestas's picture

You're correct.

Johnny ranked state wildflowers but fell back on regular flowers if a state was too lazy to select a wildflower. The Ohio state wildflower is the Large White Trillium, which is very trill.

BrooklynBuckeye's picture

Thanks. My bad. Read it quickly at work. I feel shame for breaking Message Board Commandment #4: Thou shalt not skim and comment.

Northbrook's picture

Skim & cement? WTF?

Michael Citro's picture

Ohio, is there nothing you don't excel at?

Poison nuts's picture

Doesn't excel at not being awesome is about all I can come up with,,,

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

Citrus's picture

Nope. Ohio is even the best coastal state. The only thing it might not excel at is being awesome.

Buckeye in Illini country's picture

I mean we did win the ECAC in lacrosse. Go Bucks.

Columbus to Pasadena: 35 hours.  "We're on a road trip through the desert looking for strippers and cocaine... and Rose Bowl wins!"

bucknasty13's picture

Geez... I'm so ready for football.

GoBlueBlood's picture

I'm waiting for one of these lists to come out where Ohio isn't #1.
Looks like I'll be waiting for a while. 

bukyze's picture

That would be an impossibility.  We are infallable.

Johnny Ginter's picture

i have this scenario in my head where you bolt to your computer every monday at 4:30, frantically typing elevenwarriors dot com into your browser while you impatiently tap your feet, hoping beyond hope that ohio is not ranked number one on any of these lists. and then when you see that it is, you slump in your chair, angry and defeated.

i mean, i don't think that's the case. but if it is, never give up hope. never ever

Hovenaut's picture


.....and this is only the offseason.

BuckeyeVet's picture

By "you bolting to your computer...."  I assume the "you" is referring to the trolls on our damn fine 11W site. The trolls would feel that way. Keep the lists coming! It's a long offseason.

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."          - Groucho Marx

"The recipient of Oyster's ONLY down vote".

bukyze's picture

Ohio, as usual, kicking the absolute shit out of all the other boring-ass B1G flowers.  And, as always, Ohio rules!

LABuckeye's picture

I am certain that THE state of Ohio must also have the superior state fossil, gemstone, and beverage (what could possibly be better than tomato juice)? The pawpaw is certainly the king of official state native fruits as well. What the hell was I thinking moving to California?

Jason Priestas's picture

Come back. Bring your weather.

LABuckeye's picture

You may not want it: high 90's at the end of last week with 0 humidity, high winds, and half of SoCal on fire. Today it is in the low 60's and raining...

Denny's picture

I'd move the Black Eyed Susan up a few spots because it's the only flower that's also a tasty beverage.


daytonbuckeye's picture

Thanks Johnny for expanding my knowledge of wildflowers. It's kinda ironic that we went hiking this past weekend and my kids saw some flowers that they wanted to know what kind they were. I had no clue, so I took a picture to google later. It slipped my mind but alas you have done the research for me.

3 85 yards and a cloud of dust.

Johnny Ginter's picture


cplunk's picture

The more you know

CALPOPPY's picture

Just post photos of wildflowers, someone will know what they are. Seriously.

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

BlueBayou's picture

Johnny, may I recommend ranking the ghost stories of the Big Ten.  It seems like it could be fun and offer some comedic gold.  I would love to see your creativity run wild with it.

Johnny Ginter's picture

you know what, ive just been doing "official" stuff, that's not a bad idea

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Pure Awesomeness!!  Ohio wins again!  Love it!
Go Bucks!!

sloopy88's picture

I love this feature so much, completely unironically.  I hope we're saving state rock song for last. 

Citrus's picture

Big fan of this feature as well. It always makes me laugh.

harleymanjax's picture

I can't wait for the battle of the State trees!

"Because I couldn't go for 3"

ATXbucknut's picture

Not that I am a fan of Arkansas, but their state flower is #1 in my book.

Hovenaut's picture

Administrative Professional's Day at Bert's office?

ATXbucknut's picture

That or these are what Bert gives to his sooie-ty on Valentine's Day.

Hovenaut's picture

Better than motorcycle rides.....Bobby P!

CALPOPPY's picture

Johnny, thanks for properly giving the scientific names. Appreciated as a botanist.

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

Aesculus.'s picture

^^what he said.

CALPOPPY's picture

That's at least three botanists/plant phylogeneticists on 11W. I wondered with the name aesculus as most people wouldn't choose that name if they weren't in plant sciences or horticulture. I used to use aesculus as my email address when I could choose the name.

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

MN Buckeye's picture

So Iowa had to get their flower from Arkansas? What shame and misery . . .

MN Buckeye's picture

The last time I was in Pennsylvania, I heard a lot of vetch.

MN Buckeye's picture

Finally, on behalf of all Minnesotans, I apologize for the flower that 'lives up to its promises'.

Floyd Stahl's picture

These features are pure genius

SPreston2001's picture

Oh gosh were talking about flowers on a football forum! Man I cant wait for the season to start....