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Alabama State Symbols

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Welcome to the Land of Dixie! Or should I call it the Yellowhammer State? (Continued below)

 state flag  state seal
Nicknames & Slogans
Nicknames The Heart of Dixie, The Yellowhammer State, Cotton State  
Symbols of State
Motto Audemus jura nostra defendere 1939
Song Alabama 1931
EcoSymbols
Flower camellia (Camellia) 1959
(former) goldenrod (Solidago) 1927
Wildflower oak-leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) 1999
Tree southern longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) 1997
(former) “southern pine” (Pinus) 1949
Fruit blackberry (Rubus occidentalis) 2004
Tree Fruit peach (Prunus persica) 2006
Nut pecan (Carya illinoinensis) 1982
Legume peanut (Arachis hypogaea) 2022
Bird yellowhammer [common flicker] (Colaptes auratus) 1927
Game Bird turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) 1980
Mammal black bear (Ursus americanus) 2006
Marine Mammal manatee (Trichechus manatus) 2009
Horse Racking Horse (Equus caballus) 1975
Reptile Alabama red-bellied turtle (Pseudemys alabamensis) 1990
Amphibian Red Hills salamander (Phaeognathus hubrichti) 2000
Fresh Water Fish largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) 1975
Salt Water Fish (fighting) tarpon (Megalops atlanticus) 1955
Insect monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) 1989
Mascot and Butterfly eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) 1989
Agricultural Insect queen honey bee (Apis mellifera) 2015
Crustacean brown shrimp (Penaeus aztecus) 2015
Shell Johnstone’s junonia (Scaphella junonia) 1990
Mineral hematite (red iron ore) 1967
Rock marble 1969
Gemstone star blue quartz 1990
Fossil † prehistoric whale (Basilosaurus cetoides) 1984
Soil Bama Soil Series 1997
Wild and Scenic River Little River 1969
Cultural Symbols
Dessert Lane cake 2016
Barbecue Championship Demopolis Christmas on the River Cook-off 1991
Spirit Conecuh Ridge Alabama Fine Whiskey 2004
Horse Shoe Tournament Event Stockton Fall Horseshoe Tournament 1992
Horse Show Event Alabama State Championship Horse Show 1988
Agricultural Museum Dothan Landmarks Park 1992
Renaissance Faire Event Florence Renaissance Faire 1988
Dance square dance Redundant Symbol 1981
Historic Theatre Alabama Theatre for the Performing Arts 1993
Outdoor Drama The Miracle Worker 1991
Outdoor Musical Drama The Incident at Looney’s Tavern 1993
Quilt Pine Burr Quilt 1997
Bible State Bible 1853
Flag Pledge 2001
Creed Alabama’s Creed 1953
Language English Redundant Symbol 1990

Alabama’s most prominent symbol is its flag, but whose history does it commemorate?

Alabama’s state motto is Audemus jura nostra defendere (“We dare defend our rights”).
Alabama State Quarter

Some say the design recalls the Confederate battle flag, a symbol of the Civil War. Others say it recalls the flags carried by early Spanish explorers. Perhaps we can compromise and pretend it represents both.

Believe it or not, Alabama’s state bird is a symbol of the Civil War. It is also the only woodpecker adopted as a state bird.

The flicker is probably America’s most familiar woodpecker. In Alabama, it’s fondly called the “yellowhammer.”

Alabama has the only official state bible—thank God.

According to legend, some Confederate soldiers wore uniforms with colors matching the yellowhammer’s. Today, one of Alabama’s most familiar nicknames is Yellowhammer State.

Alabama State BirdYellowhammer (left) and turkey, Alabama’s official game bird

Another nickname that recalls Alabama’s plantation past is Cotton State. However, it is better known as The Heart of Dixie. This nickname is a reminder that Montgomery, Alabama was the first capital of the Confederate States.

Do any of Alabama’s symbols represent anything other than the Civil War? And what would Helen Keller have to say about the Civil War, China, or Israel?

* * * * *

If you think state flags and flowers are nothing more than trivia, guess again. A thorough exploration of the more than 1,500 items adopted as state symbols embraces geography, history, and psychology.

You have found the best state symbols website, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. The introduction above is adapted from Geobop’s State Symbols and My State Symbols Book, by far the biggest and most detailed state symbols references ever. You can learn still more about the symbols of the 50 states in the books Flag Quest and Grading the States. (Learn more about them here.)

After you spend some time exploring your favorite state’s symbols, you can come back here and tell us what you think about them.

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