About the Georgia State Flower

5 min read

The state floral emblem of Georgia is the Rosa Laevigata, also known as the Cherokee Rose. A member of the Rosaceae family, it is not native to Georgia, but it is native to Vietnam, Laos, Taiwan, and China. Said to have been around for approximately 5780 years, this prolific shrub makes a striking hedge and is more versatile one may think. In ancient Chinese Medicine, and still today, the plant is known and valued for its medicinal purpose and wide nutrition content. Easy to propagate from cuttings, it’s an easy task to spread this beauty around. As long as consideration is taken into where the plant is being planted due to its aggressive growth, there are no cons to enjoying this easy to care for shrub. Besides the fruit having a sweet taste of honey and the blooms having an unforgettable fragrance, the beauty and story behind this shrub is what makes it so popular.

Today, in this article, we are going to learn more about the Georgia State Flower, including the following:

*History of the Georgia State Flower

*The use of the Cherokee Rose for Medicinal Purposes

*Growth Habits of the Cherokee Rose

*Growing Cherokee Roses

*Pests and Diseases

History of the Georgia State Flower

Thanks to the Georgia Federation of Women’s Club, on August 28th, 1916, the Cherokee Rose became the state flower of Georgia. Not native to Georgia, it’s believed it didn’t arrive to the United States until the 1700s. Less than 50 years later, the shrub made its way into gardens and was planted by the Native American Cherokee in Northern Georgia. The Cherokee Rose then got its name from the Cherokee Native American Tribe who suffered a tragic event in 1838. The people of the Cherokee tribe were forced off their land and made to walk thousands of miles to Oklahoma. Dubbed the “Trail of Tears,” it is said wherever a tear dropped, a Cherokee Rose grew. Today, the shrub is found on that same path. Representing the gold stolen from the tribe are the yellow centers and the white petals represent the tears, while the three leaves and five petals stand for the seven clans.

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The use of the Cherokee Rose for Medicinal Purposes

The medicinal properties have been used for centuries. Ensuring the hairs around the seed and under the flesh of the fruit are not ingested, the flower, leaf and root are edible. The hairs on the seed cause irritation to the digestive tract and mouth. However, once the hairs are removed, the seed can be used as a supplement added to other foods as a source of vitamin E. The sugar extracted from the hip is used to ferment wine. For assistance in wound healing, leaves are beneficial, whereas the roots and leaves have detoxifying effects. The hips, eaten cooked or raw, have a high nutrition content including vitamin A, C, and E. Its a good source of fatty acids, which is uncommon for fruit. Not proven yet, the plant is carefully being looked at as potentially being able to halt or reverse cancer growth, making it a shrub to get familiar with.

Growth Habits of the Cherokee Rose

The vivid green leaves highlight the white flowers with yellow centers, which are followed by orange-red hips. Blooming in the early spring, the Cherokee Rose can bloom again in the fall if the weather allows. Preferring a sunny, warm location, the plant is drought tolerant and can handle poor soil but if the leaves yellow and wilt, it is a sign it is too dry. It’s known to climb over neighboring plants, with thorny branches reaching 20 feet long. Healthy mounds are generally 10-12 feet tall and 15 feet wide. Therefore, it is wise to prune it back keeping it to the desired shape on your trellis. Considered an invasive weed in some areas, this crop can easily grow wild. However, if a fertilizer is needed, use all-purpose 10-10-10, especially at the first sign of new growth and a couple months before the first frost.

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 Growing the Cherokee Rose

Though the plant can tolerate part shade, if the bushy mound is the desired look, choose a location that gets full sun. Due to its invasive growth, it is best to put it in a spot with adequate space and support. After the flowers have died back and the hips are dry, prune the bush back to desired shape. The best cuttings to propagate come from the plant when it is actively flowering. Cut a piece at least six inches, where the stem joins a larger branch. Strip off the bottom leaves and dip the cutting into rooting hormone. Poke a hole in the soil and stick the cutting in covering the hole. Water the cutting and set it in a warm location with bright, indirect light. When planting in the ground apply mulch around the dripline to keep the weeds at bay, retain moisture and cool the roots.

 Pests and Diseases

The Cherokee Rose isn’t as susceptible to many of the pests and diseases hybrid roses are susceptible to. If any pests were to show up, aphids are generally the first to do so. Other pests to look out for are caterpillars, spider mites, thrips, scale and the rose aphid. Never forget to spray on the underneath side of the leaves as that is where the caterpillars munch and lay eggs. Even if it seems as though the infestation has disappeared, it is always a good idea to keep spraying to ensure the entire lifecycle is killed.  Do not overhead water, keeping the diseases away. Rose black rot, rose rust and powdery mildew are the most common diseases found in the Cherokee Rose. Remove damaged leaves. Attracting butterflies and deterring deer with its fragrance, the Cherokee Rose is a beautiful shrub to have nearby.

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Though prohibited in some areas, many florists have the Cherokee Rose on hand for bouquets being that it is a state flower. They could help in sourcing a healthy cutting or plant. Once an established plant is found, enjoy the ease of cutting a branch and forming a clone of the mother plant within a few months. Learn about the history behind the name to appreciate the origin. Adore the Cherokee Rose for its striking beauty, memorable fragrant or medicine values.