Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

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INDIAN BLANKET

Oklahoma's state wildflower, the Indian blanket, is a member of the largest family of flowering plants, the composite family, also referred to as Asteraceae (formerly Compositae). Indian blanket (common name), or Gaillardia pulchella (scientific name), is a flat, multi-petaled, round flower. The petals are two distinctly separated colors, with dominate red in the center and predominant yellow at the tips. With stems radiating from a central root system, this bush-type plant ranges from one to three feet in height. More commonly known as blanketflowers, Gaillardia were named for Gaillard de Marentonneau, a French amateur botanist. Adopted as Oklahoma's state wildflower in May 1986 after the passage of House Bill 1649 and approval by Gov. George Nigh, the Indian blanket serves as a symbol of Oklahoma's scenic beauty and rich Indian heritage.

Dr. Doyle McCoy, an Oklahoma public school biology teacher, chose to lobby for the adoption of the Gaillardia pulchella as the state wildflower for a simple reason: it has a high tolerance of heat and arid conditions, ensuring a majority of the state could appreciate its promotion of Oklahoma's heritage and grace for the most of the year. Sponsored in the Forty-first Legislature by state representatives Kelly Haney, a Seminole Indian artist, and Billie Floyd, the Indian blanket quickly gained popularity. In 1988 to help promote statewide beautification the legislature adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 103, proclaiming every third Saturday of May "State Wildflower Day."

SEE ALSO: ENVIRONMENT AND CULTURAL ECOLOGY, FLORA, STATE EMBLEMS.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Margaret W. Hamilton, Sooner State Symbols (Norman, Okla.: Levite of Apache, 1992).

Melissa Vincent

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