Why Does Maine Have a Chunk of Wood Instead of a Pretty State Flower?
So... Everyone knows that a pine cone isn't a flower, right?
Recently, I was scoping an article of things that are all of Maine's "official" things. Official motto, state bird, state soda, state food... You get the idea. Honestly, I hadn't thought about it in decades, but I noticed that Maine's official state "flower" is the White Pine Cone and Tassel. Ummm... That ain't no flower.
So, Maine essentially has a spiny little chunk of wood as it's state flower. I find this a bit odd. We have so many varieties of indigenous Maine flowers that would all be a much more suitable flower. Even a frikkin' dandelion would seem more appropriate. At least they're an actual flower. But no, we gotta be weird, I guess.
If our flower isn't a flower, what the heck is it?!
Pine cones are actually gymnosperms. Merriam-Webster defines them as such:
...any of a group of vascular plants that produce naked seeds not enclosed in an ovary...
I'm not a smart man, but near as I can tell, that's a lot of fancy talk for a little chunk of wood that houses all the seeds and falls off the tree. Pretty sure regular plants do it differently, but frankly, neither one of us care and it's barely the point, hahaha. But, suffice it to say, it ain't a flower of any kind. More fun pine cone facts right here.
So how did we end up with a pine cone for a flower?
In 1893, at the World's Fair in Chicago, White Pine Cones were used in the National Garland of Flowers. Two years later, Maine sought to make the little wooden dinosaur bodies the official state flower. And here we are, almost 140 years later, and that little spiny seed basket is still repping Maine. Why, though?
Other New England states got it right. Connecticut has the Mountain Laurel, Massachusetts has the Mayflower, New Hampshire has the Lilac. And Maine has a dirty, fat, little, sticky wad of seeds that we have "adopted" as our flower. I feel like this says a lot about us.
Sure, the White Pine is the most prolific tree in our state, but no part of it is a flower. Heck, if we're talking money, why not make Cannabis the state flower? At least IT'S A FLOWER... Amirite?!