The Forget-me-not, Alaska's state flower, is a small clump-forming perennial that grows 5 to 12 inches high in alpine meadows. The flowers have five connected salviform petals in a sky blue color, that are a quarter to a third of an inch wide. They have a white inner ring and a yellow center. The best time to spot alpine forget-me-nots is midsummer, from late June to late July. The flowers are very fragrant in the evening and night time, but give off little or no scent in the daytime.
The Forget-me-not was first adopted in 1907 as the official flower of the "Grand Igloo," an organization formed by pioneers that had arrived in Alaska before 1900. They named the flower in their constitution and it quickly was adopted by the broader population as a symbol of the Alaska region.
In 1912, the US Congress passed the second Organic Act, which authorized Alaska to create a territorial government with limited powers. Just five years later a bill was introduced that proposed the Forget-me-not be declared the official floral emblem of the Territory. Esther Birdsall Darling wrote a poem for the occasion:
So in thinking for an emblem
For this Empire of the North
We will choose this azure flower
That the golden days bring forth,
For we want men to remember
That Alaska came to stay
Though she slept unknown for ages
And awakened in a day.
So although they say we’re living
In the land that God forgot,
We’ll recall Alaska to them
With our blue Forget-me-not.
The Forget-me-not was approved by the Territorial Legislature as the official floral emblem of the Alaska Territory and the Governor signed the legislation into law on April 28, 1917. Written in the margin of the bill was found the following poem:
A little flower blossoms forth
On every hill and dale,
The emblem of the Pioneers
Upon the rugged trail;
The Pioneers have asked it
And we could deny them not;
So the emblem of Alaska
Is the blue Forget-me-not.
In 1927, Benny Benson, a 13-year old Aleut boy at the time, also referenced the Forget-me not with his winning flag design. The blue field of Benny Benson's flag, now our state flag, represents the sky and the blue Forget-me-not flower. He said, "The blue field is for the Alaska sky and the Forget-me-not, an Alaskan flower. The North Star is for the future state of Alaska, the most northerly in the union. The Dipper is for the Great Bear - symbolizing strength."
When Alaska entered the Union in 1959 as the 49th state, the Forget-me-not was adopted as the official state flower and floral emblem.