In 1907, Mrs. James C. Fessler of Rochelle suggested to state officials that Illinois school children vote for a state tree and flower. Senator Andrew J. Jackson of Rockford introduced a bill making it official, and in 1908 the blue violet became the state flower, and the oak became the state tree.
There are several species of blue-flowered violets in the state. The most common of them is the Dooryard Violet (Viola sororia). The Dooryard Violet is certainly one of the most recognizable native wildflowers in the state. It is also one of the most easily grown; it grows in anything from full sunlight to deep shade.
In 1973, the White Oak outpolled the Northern Red Oak in a vote of school children. (The original state tree was generally referred to as “native oak.”) An amended bill was signed into law that year. White Oaks can be very large. Individual trees commonly reach a height of 100 feet. When growing in the open, they often have widely spreading branches, making them excellent shade trees.