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Helen Hornberger  Search this
Copper, oil paint
Overall: 10 in. (25.4 cm)
Stem: 7 in. (17.8 cm)
Flower: 3 in. (7.6 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 Saguaro Blossom (Carnegiea gigantean). Layers of white petals surround a broad yellow center. The receptacle is similar to an artichoke, and cups the blossom. It has a straight, narrow stem.
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.
ARIZONA: The Saguaro Blossom (Carnegiea gigantean) was designated the official state flower of Arizona in 1931. It had previously been adopted as the official territorial flower in 1901. The Saguaro Blossom grows on the largest cactus in United States, the Giant Saguaro Cactus. These cacti are native to the Sonoran Desert in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, where they live from 150 to 200 years and grow to heights of 40 to 50 feet. The Saguaro Cactus is very slow growing, about an inch per year, and it can take up to 75 years to develop a side shoot. These arms create the familiar cactus shape often associated with the desert, which has made it a symbol of the Southwest and of Arizona. The Saguaro Blossoms grow at the tips of the cacti’s truck and arms. There may be hundreds of flowers that bloom over a month or longer, usually during May and June. The fragrant blossoms are comprised of white, waxy petals and an orange center. The Saguaro flowers have an extremely short bloom period, opening at night and closing the closing permanently during the next day. Despite their quick appearance, many blossoms become pollinated and develop into red-fleshed fruits. These fruits are a major food source for desert animals. The slow-growing but quick-blooming Giant Saguaro Cactus is also slow to propagate and is a candidate for the endangered species list. Because of this, harming these cacti in any manner, for any reason, is illegal in the state of Arizona.
copper  Search this
tôle  Search this
Arizona  Search this
Artificial flowers  Search this
crafts  Search this
emblems (symbols)  Search this
flowers (plants)  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