In 1893, fourteen years before its official statehood, Oklahoma choose Mistletoe (Phoradendron serotinum) as its official state floral emblem. The greenery shown in harsh winter months was used to symbolize the strength, resilience, and perseverance of the early settlers to the region. A state flower, the Oklahoma Rose, was also declared in 2004.
Mistletoe is a parasitic plant, it attaches to and draws nutrients from a host plant, primarily hardwood trees. Mistletoe has dark, waxy green leaves and white berries. There are 700-1400 different species of mistletoe, depending on which botanist you ask. It has a broad range in the United States, growing from New Jersey to Florida, and as far west as Texas. There is also a European species, in the Northwestern region of the country, thought to have been brought over with apples to be grown in the area. Mistletoe grows on every continent except Antarctica. It has long been used in religious ceremonies, decorations for holidays, and as an important part of stories in mythology and folklore. The Norse legend of Balder tells of a son of gods whose only weakness was mistletoe. The Druids of the Celtic world, whose religion was based around the natural world, saw it as a sign of great sacredness.