The Scarlet Carnation

Ohio’s official flower, the scarlet carnation, is rooted in Alliance. 

In 1866, local green thumb and politician Dr. Levi Lamborn propagated the flower from French seedlings, calling it "Lamborn Red.” 

Opposing William McKinley for the 18th Congressional District in 1876, Lamborn presented the future president with a “Lamborn Red’ boutonniere before each debate. 

As McKinley’s political star rose, he spoke of the scarlet carnation as a good-luck charm. When he became president, he took to wearing one at all times and presenting flowers from a bouquet on his desk to guests. 

On Sept. 14, 1901, moments after removing the flower from his lapel and giving it to a young admirer at the Buffalo Exposition, McKinley was killed by an assassin’s bullet. 

Following years of lobbying by Lamborn, the Ohio General Assembly passed a joint resolution naming the scarlet carnation the state flower on February 3, 1904. On April 1, 1959, the Ohio Legislature recognized Alliance as the “Carnation City.”

The Carnation Festival is Alliance's annual celebration of this historical flower.