10Best: Regional Flora of North America

  • Poinciana Trees - Southwest Florida

    The Royal Poinciana tree grows in tropical destinations around the world, but it's perhaps most associated with Southwest Florida. In summer, Floridians and visitors enjoy a show of color when the trees produce brilliant red-orange blossoms. Streets, schools, parks and even a town are named after them, and you'll see them throughout the region. They're hard to miss!

    Photo courtesy of Alexcrab/iStock

  • Saguaro Cacti - Sonoran Desert

    Nothing symbolizes the American Southwest quite like the towering saguaro cactus. These slow-growing, tree-like cacti are found exclusively in the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona, with the largest concentrations of them in Saguaro National Park. To put in perspective the age of these plants, a saguaro only grows 1 to 2 inches in its first eight years, and it doesn't start developing branches until it's 50 to 70 years old.

    Photo courtesy of tonda/iStock

  • Azaleas in Callaway Gardens

    Azaleas - Georgia

    The azalea is the state wildflower of Georgia, and in springtime, these brilliant blossoms are everywhere. Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain has the world's largest display of native and cultivated azaleas - more than 20,000 plants - making it one of the best places to enjoy these regional flowers of the South.  But the most famous of all are at the setting for The Masters: Augusta National Golf Club in northeast Georgia.

    Photo courtesy of Tony Crescibene

  • Cathedral Tree in Prarie Creek State Park

    Redwood Trees - Northern California

    Redwood trees are the tallest and oldest species on the planet, some living to be 2,000 years old and reaching heights of well over 200 feet. Northern California's Redwood National and State Parks house some of the best remaining redwood old growth forests, and hikers have dozens of trails winding through them to choose from. Look closely: do you see the person for comparison's sake?

    Photo courtesy of rachel_thecat

  • Yellow Hibiscus - Hawaii

    Hawaii has a staggering number of tropical plants found nowhere else on the planet, but the state flower is the brightly hued yellow hibiscus, one of seven species of hibiscus native to the islands. During the 1950s and 60s, it became fashionable for women to wear a hibiscus bloom tucked behind the ear, on the right to indicate she's single and on the left to indicate she's in a relationship.

    Photo courtesy of Ricardo Garza/iStock

  • Fireweed - Alaska and British Columbia

    Due to Alaska's northern location, its most famous flora, fireweed, doesn't begin blooming until July and August, when the state's high mountain meadows become inflamed in bright pink. Serious cyclists can see the blooms while taking part in one of the state's toughest road races, the Fireweed 400.

    Photo courtesy of erikruthoff/iStock

  • California Poppies - Southern California

    Each spring, the rolling hills of the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve in Southern California get blanketed in orange and California poppies begin to bloom. California's state flower typically blooms from mid-February through late May, and with 8 miles of trails in the mark, there's plenty of room to spread out and enjoy them.

    Photo courtesy of John Alves/iStock

  • Oak Alley Plantation in Louisiana

    Southern Live Oak - Old South

    A postcard image of the Old South wouldn't be complete without at least one Southern live oak. These majestic trees, often seen draped in Spanish moss, can live more than 1,000 years and are often found lining roads and paths to historic Old South plantations. Two of the most iconic places to see these trees are at Louisiana's Oak Alley Plantation and at Charleston's Boone Hall Plantation.

    Photo courtesy of m-kojot/iStock

  • Sugar Maple - New England

    No place in the country is more popular for fall leaf peeping than New England, and that's thanks in large part to the presence of sugar maples. Besides providing a stunning display of autumn colors, these trees produce the ever popular sweet pancake topping. After the leaves have fallen, visitors can head to an old-fashioned sugar shack to see firsthand the process of sugaring a maple tree.

    Photo courtesy of Gary Benson/iStock

  • Joshua Trees - Mojave Desert

    Legend says that when Mormon settlers came West to the Mojave Desert, they found trees that resembled Joshua, with his arms outstretched, leading his people to the promised land. The Joshua tree, a member of the agave family, are found almost exclusively in the Mojave Desert, especially within Joshua Tree National Park.

    Photo courtesy of MartinM303/iStock

  • Bluebonnets - Texas Hill Country

    Driving out into Hill Country to photograph the fields of bluebonnets has become one of the most popular spring pastimes in Texas. The Texas state flower, a type of lupine, reaches its peak in April, when roadsides throughout the central part of the state are coasted in violet-blue blossoms.

    Photo courtesy of A.L. Carter/iStock

  • Blue Columbine - Rocky Mountains

    When wildflower season comes to the Rocky Mountains, you're almost sure to spot at least a few white and lavender blooms of the blue or Rocky Mountain columbine. One of the best places to see the Colorado state flower is in the countryside surrounding Crested Butte, the "Wildflower Capital of Colorado."

    Photo courtesy of Adam Koch/iStock

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