Here’s what the Washington State website has to say about the official state flower:
In 1892, before they had the right to vote, Washington women selected the coast rhododendron as the state flower. They wanted an official flower to enter in a floral exhibit at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. Six flowers were considered, but the final decision was narrowed to clover and the “rhodie,” and voting booths were set up for ladies throughout the state. When the ballots were counted, the rhododendron had been chosen as the Washington state flower. In 1959, the Legislature designated the native species, Rhododendron macrophyllum, as the official flower of the state of Washington.
These flowers are gorgeous, with their huge blooms. Colors include pale pink, magenta, red, salmon, and violet, with different varieties blooming at slightly different times.
Rhododendron bushes are nearly ubiquitous in landscaping around here—so much so that lots of people say they’re sick of seeing them. But I’m still enough of a newcomer that I love to see these bursts of color all over during the spring.