Spring has sprung, and that means flowers are blooming across the state. One type of flower you’ll see is the syringa, designated the state flower of Idaho by the legislature in 1931.
Flowering late May through July, the syringa blooms in groups and often resembles a snowy mountainside.
It grows best in medium-dry to moist soil along streams, rocky talus, dry ravines, and canyons. According to US Forest Service, the syringa can be found across the state and most abundantly in the Boise National Forest near Idaho City and the canyons around Anderson Ranch Reservoir.
It’s a woody shrub that grows 8 feet tall and has clusters of white and yellow flowers. While it’s most commonly known as the syringa, it’s also called mock orange because the flowers have a strong smell similar to orange blossoms – hence the name.
The flower’s scientific name is the Philadelphus lewisii – after Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. It’s said that Lewis wrote about the flower in his journal and collected them in the early 1800s as he explored the state. According to the Bureau of Land Management, other flowers in Idaho that are named after Lewis and Clark include the Lewis’s monkeyflower, the Bitterroots, the Lewis’s flax, and the Beautiful clarkia.
Also, according to the US Forest Service, Native Americans used the syringa’s straight, sturdy stems to make arrows, pipe stems, and combs.