White Pine Cone and Tassel is the State flower of Maine. Pinus strobus is the scientific name of White Pine Cone and Tassel. It is commonly known as Northern White Pine, Northern Pine, Soft Pine, and Weymouth Pine etc. Maine designated the white pine cone and tassel, Pinus strobus, linnaeus, as its state flower back in 1895. For the World’s Fair in Chicago, 1893, all the states were asked to choose their floral emblems. The resident’s of Maine voted on three candidates: goldenrod; apple blossom; and the pine cone and tassel. The first two were genuine flowers, but the third, pine cone and tassel, is not an actual flower. Still, the pine cone won 10,000 of 17,000 votes and later, it was officially adopted as Maine’s state flower.
To witness the exquisiteness of Maine state flower, one only needs to venture across the state’s border. Besides their omnipresent natural beauty, these pine trees are used in Maine for landscaping and in reforestation. They are also one of the most planted trees in the country and can be found in New York, Michigan, Wisconsin and Canada. Maine is the only state whose state flower is not actually a flower at all. Lawmakers originally chose the White Pine Cone as the state floral symbol of Maine because the state was commonly known as the Pine Tree state which refers to the abundance of the pine trees in the locality.
State Flower of Maine facts:
- Common Name: White Pine Cone and Tassel
- Genus: Pinus
- Species: Pinus strobus
- Found in: New York, Michigan, Wisconsin and Canada
- Color: bluish-green to silver green
- Time of blooming: spring (April and early May)
- Purpose: the flowers are not of much use
The state flower of Maine, Eastern white pine cone and tassel tree, belongs to the group Gymnosperm of the Pinaceae family. Botanically, these are not considered flowers since gymnosperms do not have true flowers. The reproductive structures of pines are known as strobili. Maine is the only state to have official state strobilae. The White pine is considered to be the largest conifer in the northeastern United States.
Leaves, also referred to as needles, are soft, stretchy and bluish-green to silver green in color. Usually they are found to be arranged in bundles of five. The blue green needles of the White Pine Cone and Tassel are usually two to five inches long and grow in clusters of five sprigs. The tree’s cones are brown and slender and grow alongside its needles at the end of the pine’s branches. Flowers (strobili) occur on the tree. Pine trees have male and female cones; the male pine cones are small and fall off the tree after pollination. The female pine cones grow larger after being pollinated. These cones are generally 4-8 inches in length, typically a little curved. They take almost 2 years to mature and open to discharge the seed shortly after ripening in late August through September of the second season. Cone scales are thin and never have prickles. Each scale usually bears two winged seeds as do all native pines. Cones also have a fragrant gummy resin.
The gigantic conifer grows profusely across the state of Maine and has long linkages to the state’s lumber industry. The condescending evergreens have long dominated the state’s picturesque landscape, from its rocky seacoasts to its thick inland wilderness. It is recorded that the lumber products milled from pine trees have fueled the state’s economy since the 1600s. Aside from its role in the timber industry, the tree upon which the Maine state flower grows has other historical value. During colonial times, its strong, straight trunks were used to make masts for ships sailing in the British Royal Navy.
Though the pine cone and tassel is not a flower, the choice of making it the official state flower of Maine is not unforeseen for the citizens considering the role of the white pine in Maine’s history.