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Grass Symbols

Grasses aren’t nearly as popular as flowers and trees among national and state symbols. However, they’re probably a lot more popular than you think.

Let’s take a brief tour of grasses of state.

National Grasses ˆ

U.S. State Grasses ˆ

After each of the 50 states had adopted an official flower and tree, more plant symbols began to pop up, notably official fruit and grasses. By 2022, 20 states were represented by an official grass or grain. (The term grain is commonly applied to grasses that are cultivated for human consumption, such as wheat and corn.) (continued)

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Below is a list of official state grasses. All are designated the official grass unless noted otherwise in the “Designation” column.

List of State Grasses
State Species Designation
Arkansas rice (Oryza) Grain 2007
California purple needlegrass (Nassella pulchra) 2004
rice (Oryza) Grain 2013
Colorado blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis) 1987
Illinois big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) Prairie Grass 1989
corn (Zea mays) Grain 2017
sweet corn Vegetable 2015
popcorn Snack Food 2004
Kansas little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) 2010
Minnesota wild rice (Zizania palustris) Grain 1977
Missouri big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) 2017
Montana bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata) 1973
Nebraska little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) 1969
Nevada Indian ricegrass (Oryzopsis hymenoides) 1977
New Mexico blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilis) 1973
North Dakota western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii) 1977
Oklahoma Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans) 1972
South Carolina Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans) 2001
South Dakota western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii) 1970
Texas sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula) 1971
Utah Indian ricegrass (Oryzopsis hymenoides) 1990
Washington bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata) 1989
Wisconsin corn (Zea mays) Grain 1989
Wyoming western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii) 2007
The first state grass was adopted by Nebraska in 1969.
Map of States with Official GrassesMOST OF THE 20 STATES WITH OFFICIAL GRASSES ARE IN THE MIDWEST OR GREAT PLAINS.

Nicknamed the Prairie State, Illinois has an official grass and grain both. It marks the eastern limit of states with official grasses except for South Carolina.

The Most Popular State GrasssTHE MOST POPUILAR STATE GRASS IS WESTERN WHEATGRASS, WHICH REPRESENTS WYOMING AND THE DAKOTAS.

At least seven states have nicknames inspired by grasses or cereal grains.

Grass Nicknames

Generic grasses are depicted in the background of a number of state seals and coats of arms, some of which are in turn featured on state flags. Seals with notable prairie scenes represent Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas and the Dakotas.

More specific symbolism is apparently limited to two domesticated grasses, wheat and corn. Wheat sheaves grace emblems representing states stretching from Delaware to Alaska.

Grass State SealsCLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: EMBLEMS REPRESENTING TENNESSEE, VERMONT, WEST VIRGINIA, AND OHIO; CENTER: PENNSYLVANIAl

Grasses aren’t overtly symbolized on any state flags, which is a shame. Check out the flag proposals below.

Grass FlagsLEFT TO RIGHT: ILLINOIS, SOUTH DAKOTA, MONTANA

Grasses have also inspired countless place names, from Everglades National Park, Florida to Grass Valley, California.

More Grass SymbolsMORE STATE GRASS MAPS AND INFORMATION ARE AVAILABLE IN THE #1 STATE SYMBOLS REFERENCE, GEOBOP’S STATE SYMBOLS

Canada ˆ

List of Provincial Grasses
Province Species Designation
Alberta rough fescue (Festuca campestris) Grass 2003
Manitoba big bluestem (Andropogon gerardi) Grass 2014
Saskatchewan needle and thread grass (Heterostipa comata) Grass 2001

Other Grasses ˆ

Check back now and then; I will be adding more lists for some time.

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