Skip to main content Smithsonian Institution

Catalog Data

Helen Hornberger  Search this
Copper, oil paint
Overall: 14 1/4 in. (36.2 cm)
Stem: 8 3/4 in. (22.2 cm)
Flower: 5 1/2 in. (14 cm)
Artificial flowers and trees
United States
Artist, Helen Hornberger, revived the techniques of French tole to create naturalistic representations of the state flowers. The artist used thin copper sheets as her base, and painted them with oil paint in the natural colors of the blossoms and leaves of the White Pine Cone and Tassel (Pinus strobus, linnaeus). The grey, textured branch has long, thin spikes of coming off the top third, as well as a pinecone formed by layers of brown sheets that flare out at the top.
Label Text:
The Congress of Representative Women at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago proposed that each U.S. state and territory select a flower to represent their state in the “National Garland of Flowers.” This resulted in the National Floral Emblem Society. Each state has adopted to represent the state and its people based on their importance to the state’s history, economy, folklore, or native varieties. Tole artist Helen Hornberger created each artificial flower representing each state to create for a bouquet displaying America’s floral diversity.
MAINE: The White Pine Cone and Tassel (Pinus strobus, linnaeus) was designated the official state floral emblem of Maine in 1895. Maine’s selection of a flower to represent the state was prompted by the "National Garland of Flowers" to be exhibited at the 1893 World's Fair. The following year, the Maine Floral Emblem Society directed the effort for a floral emblem to be officially sanctioned by the state’s legislators. Ballots were published in the Maine newspapers that listed three candidates for state flower, the Goldenrod; Apple Blossom; and the White Pine Cone and Tassel. Again the White Pine Cone and Tassel was selected with as much as 60% of the votes, according to some accounts, despite the fact that botanically, the White Pine Cone and Tassel is not a flower. They grow on the eastern White Pine Tree, which is considered the largest conifer in the northeastern United States. These trees are gymnosperm, so produce seeds without flowers. The Tassel is made up a cluster of the tree’s needles which are soft, flexible, and silver-green to blue-green. The needles grow in bundles of five that are 2 to 5 inches in length. The Cone is slightly curved with scales and grows from 4 to 8 inches in length. They are very fragrant and produce a gummy resin. The choice of the White Pine Cone and Tassel highlights Maine’s admiration for the White Pine and all it has done for the state. Maine’s nickname “The Pine Tree State” is not just the result of its geography, the White Pine was also named the state tree in 1945, and it is featured on the state flag, state seal, and on the Maine quarter.
copper  Search this
tôle  Search this
Artificial flowers  Search this
crafts  Search this
emblems (symbols)  Search this
flowers (plants)  Search this
Maine  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian Gardens, Horticultural Artifacts Collection. Gift of Helen Hornberger.
Accession number:
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Data Source:
Smithsonian Gardens