Imagine the Sunflower State without its sunflowers. That's one of the dire predictions contained in a new report on global warming released by the National Wildlife Federation, which says the Kansas state flower could move north to other states in a few decades.

Increasingly warm temperatures also could mean the end of the state tree, the eastern cottonwood, according to "The Gardener's Guide to Global Warming."

"Everything being equal, these plants won't thrive and will shift north," said Patty Glick, the report's author and senior global warming specialist for the National Wildlife Federation.

While conditions could change, Glick and other say projected increasing temperatures also could wipe out cool-weather grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass, and many fescues that cover lawns in the region.

Some experts think global warming will cause temperatures in Kansas to rise an average of 5 to 12 degrees in the next several decades.

The projection that the sunflower could fade from Kansas' landscape surprised some experts and scientists.

"This is a plant that has survived for eons," said Dennis Patton, a horticulturist with the Johnson County Kansas State University Research and Extension office. "It is hard to believe in this short period of time that the plant would be non-existent here. Same with the cottonwood.

"I guess what I come back to, it is a good wake-up call."

John Blair, a Kansas State University professor and research scientist at the Konza Prairie research station north of Manhattan, has been conducting experiments for nine years on the effect of altered rain patterns on plants.

Blair said even if total rainfall doesn't change, computer models show the rain will come less often and will fall in strong downpours when it does come.

He is finding that plants with root systems able to reach water deeper in the earth have a better chance of survival. For plants in the wild, that means many perennials have a better chance than annuals such as the sunflower because of their more developed root systems.

What would the lack of a sunflower mean for Kansas, which has Mount Sunflower and hundreds of businesses, clubs and associations with sunflower in their titles?

"Maybe in 100 years the Texas bluebonnet will be the Kansas state flower," Patton said.

The Wildlife Federation report said the Missouri state tree and flower - the flowering dogwood and the white hawthorn blossom - are not endangered.