Grasses aren’t nearly as popular as flowers and trees among national and state symbols. However, they’re probably a lot more popular than you think.
Let’s take a brief tour of grasses of state.
National Grasses ˆ
U.S. State Grasses ˆ
After each of the 50 states had adopted an official flower and tree, more plant symbols began to pop up, notably official fruit and grasses. By 2022, 20 states were represented by an official grass or grain. (The term grain is commonly applied to grasses that are cultivated for human consumption, such as wheat and corn.)
Nicknamed the Prairie State, Illinois has an official grass and grain both. It marks the eastern limit of states with official grasses except for South Carolina.
At least seven states have nicknames inspired by grasses or cereal grains.
Generic grasses are depicted in the background of a number of state seals and coats of arms, some of which are in turn featured on state flags. Seals with notable prairie scenes represent Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas and the Dakotas.
More specific symbolism is apparently limited to two domesticated grasses, wheat and corn. Wheat sheaves grace emblems representing states stretching from Delaware to Alaska.
Grasses aren’t overtly symbolized on any state flags, which is a shame. Check out the flag proposals below.
Grasses have also inspired countless place names, from Everglades National Park, Florida to Grass Valley, California.
United States ˆ
Below is a list of official state grasses. All are designated the official grass unless noted otherwise in the “Designation” column.
|List of State Grasses|
|California||purple needlegrass (Nassella pulchra)||2004|
|Colorado||blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis)||1987|
|Illinois||big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii)||Prairie Grass||1989|
|corn (Zea mays)||Grain||2017|
|Kansas||little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)||2010|
|Minnesota||wild rice (Zizania palustris)||Grain||1977|
|Missouri||big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii)||Grass||2017|
|Montana||bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata)||1973|
|Nebraska||little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)||1969|
|Nevada||Indian ricegrass (Oryzopsis hymenoides)||1977|
|New Mexico||blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilis)||1973|
|North Dakota||western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii)||1977|
|Oklahoma||Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans)||1972|
|South Carolina||Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans)||2001|
|South Dakota||western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii)||1970|
|Texas||sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula)||1971|
|Utah||Indian ricegrass (Oryzopsis hymenoides)||1990|
|Washington||bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata)||1989|
|Wisconsin||corn (Zea mays)||Grain||1989|
|Wyoming||western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii)||2007|
Other Grasses ˆ
Check back now and then; I will be adding more lists for some time.