Symbols | World
Books | Store | Blog
About | Contact

Utah State Crustacean and Fungus

Utah State Crustacean and FungusPorcini mushroom (left) and brine shrimp.

Utahns aren’t afraid to get off the beaten path when searching for creatures to promote as symbols. In fact, Utahns adopted a couple oddballs in 2023.

Utah became the first landlocked state to adopt an official crustacean other than the crayfish, awarding the prize to the brine shrimp. The tiny critters avoid predators by living in briny waters where other animals can’t survive. In Utah, they are at home in the salty waters of Great Salt Lake.

Brine shrimp are an important food source for birds. The shrimp in turn feed on algae.

Brine shrimp eggs or “cysts” are harvested for food for fish and commercially grown shrimp. The shrimp thus support a multi-million-dollar industry, with Utah providing 40% of the global demand for the hardy crustaceans.

Utah also joined a growing list of states with official fungi when it designated the porcini mushroom the state mushroom. While many mushrooms are edible, we might not be able to survive without porcinis.

Utah is one of five states with an official mushroom.

In Utah, the porcini mushroom can be found in mid- to high-elevation conifer forests from July through October. They are part of the mycorrhizal fungi that help provide 70-85% of all the nutrients forest trees need to survive. The mushrooms live in the soil, where they form partnerships with trees. The relationship seems eerily reminiscent of the movie Avatar.