State flowers were first nominated in 1908. When the official tally was taken on Arbor Day 1909, school children selected the wood violet (Viola papilionacea) over the wild rose, trailing arbutus, and the white water lily. It was a close vote.
The wood violet is a small flower commonly seen in wet woodland and meadow areas, and along roadsides. This purple violet is very popular in the eastern United States and blooms between March and June. Not only is it the state flower for Wisconsin, but it also holds this title in Illinois, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. Believe it or not, the leaves are very tasty and can be used in salads, candies, and jellies.