Rhododendron, the state flower, begins to bloom along the New River Gorge on Tuesday.
In 1901, records show the outgoing Governor George Atkinson praising the shrub’s attractive nature and ubiquitous presence: “I know none more beautiful and none more common in West Virginia, than the Rhododendron. It is found along most every vale and hillside, and is universally admired both for its beauty and fragrance.”
Only couple years after in 1903, lawmakers named the rhododendron West Virginia’s state flower after an overwhelming vote of the state’s school children in its favor along with the governor’s recommendation.
The rhododendron grows in the vast region that extends along the Appalachians from northern Georgia all the way to New England, and also in parts of Canada, according to an article from West Virginia's Division of Natural Resources publication West Virginia Wildlife Magazine.
The article also states that West Virginia's state flower grows in ravines, shaded hillsides in cool moist locations, and favors acidic soils.
"Rhododendrons often grow in dense thickets that can become impenetrable," the article states. The thickets may cast so much shade that other species of plants or trees are unable to grow from the underneath the flower.