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Wild Roses, Indigenous Flowers of Iowa
All throughout the state of Iowa, you’ll find wild roses growing almost everywhere. This particular rose that grows in the wild was declared as the State Flower of Iowa on May 6, 1897. That was a year later when these wild roses were chosen to be the motif that will give designs to the silver tea set that will be presented to the United States Navy. These blossoms graced the battleship of Iowa as well.
Wild Rose became the state flower of Iowa with the advice of the women of Dubuque’s State Federation of Women’s Club. With the legislature drawn up, Wild Rose with its untamed beauty and grace became Iowa’s State Flower.
There are several species of Wild Rose found indigenous to Iowa. Three known Wild Roses are known native to the regions of Iowa. They are the Rosa blanda, Rosa Carolina and Rosa arkansana. Unfortunately the legislature that proclaimed the Wild Rose as Iowa’s state flower didn’t particularly named the specific specie of Wild Rose that will be Iowa’s state flower. The three mentioned species of Wild Roses are very difficult to tell which one is which. The features of these three different Wild Rose species are very similar to each other especially in appearance. In a very natural way, these indigenous flowers have the ability to easily hybridize.
Rosa blanda is also referred to as the ‘meadow rose”. This particular specie is indigenously found in meadows, open woodlands and prairies of Iowa. Meadow rose or Rosa blanda can grow tall up to four feet in height. The plant appears to be shrub-like that bears fruits that resemble miniature apples, half-inch size in diameter. These fruits of Rosa blanda are called “hips”. Flowers of this specie have showy petals that are large in size, blooming during the month of June through out the summer. Rosa blanda, is only common in the northern area of Iowa, nevertheless, it is often honored as the official flower of the state.

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On the other hand, Rosa Carolina is the specie of Wild Rose that is found blooming all throughout the entire woodlands and meadows in the state of Iowa. While Rosa arkansana or the Arkansas rose embodies very similar qualities and features of the Rosa blanda. It also blooms in June, standing three feet tall with masses of fragrant blossoms that range in shades of pink to darker pink. Like the specie Rosa blanda, Rosa arkansana bears fruit as well. The fruits produced by Rosa arkansana species are also known as hips, shaped and as red as an apple appearing in late summer.
Fruits of these three Wild Rose species put together, contains more than the vitamin C you’ll get from an orange, so they say. These plants provided sources of food supply when there are none and scarcity was adamant. Indians and early people ate not only the fruits of Wild Roses but the leaves and flowers too. Wildlife considers Wild Roses as important source of food.
The five petals of Rosa blanda close protectively over its numerous stamens during the night and when it rains. Even though Wild Roses are known not to have nectars like many flowers do, many insects are still attracted to then because of their pollen. Green seed receptacles appear after the petals wither and fall off. Each receptacle has crown-like features that have five sepals that grow and swell. The fruits or hips as they call them are most noticeable during the winter season. Hips of Wild Roses are also made into delicately-flavored jellies aside from being major sources of perfume ingredients.

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