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California State Symbols


Eureka! We’ve arrived at California, the third biggest state.

More people live in California than any other state. California is the home of Disneyland and Hollywood. What stories do its more than 40 state symbols have to tell? (Continued below)

California State Flag
Nicknames & Slogans
Nicknames The Golden State 1968
Symbols of State
Motto Eureka 1963
Song I Love You, California 1951
Flower California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) 1903
Tree coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) 1937
Tree giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) 1937
Grass purple needlegrass (Nassella pulchra) 2004
Nuts almond (Prunus dulcis), pecan (Carya illinoinensis), pistachio (Pistacia vera) & walnut (Juglans) 2017
Lichen lace lichen (Ramalina menziesii) 2015
Bird California quail (Callipepla californica) 1931
Animal California grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) 1953
Bat pallid bat (Antrozous pallidus) 2023
Marine Mammal gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus) 1975
Reptile California desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) 1972
Marine Reptile Pacific leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) 2012
Amphibian California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii) 2014
Fish golden trout (Oncorhynchus aguabonita) 1947
Marine Fish garibaldi (Hypsypops rubicundus) 1995
Insect California dogface butterfly (Zerene eurydice) 1972
Mushroom California golden chanterelle (Cantharellus californicus) 2023
Mineral & Mineralogic Emblem gold 1965
Gemstone benitoite 1985
Rock & Lithologic Emblem serpentine 1965
Fossil † saber-toothed cat (Smilodon californicus) 1973
Dinosaur † Augustynolophus morrisi 2017
Soil San Joaquin Soil 1997
Cultural Symbols
Colors blue and gold 1951
Prehistoric Artifact chipped stone bear 1991
Tartan California Tartan 2001
Fabric denim 2016
Tall Ship Californian 2003
Gold Rush Ghost Town Bodie 2002
Silver Rush Ghost Town Calico 2005
Historical Society California Historical Society 1979
Sport surfing 2018
Pet shelter pet 2015
Dance West Coast swing dance 1988
Folk Dance square dance Redundant Symbol 1988
Fife and Drum Band California Consolidated Drum Band 1997
Theater Pasadena Playhouse 1937
Outdoor Play Ramona Pageant 1993
Language English Redundant Symbol 1986
Vietnam Veterans War Memorial California Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Capitol Park, Sacramento 2013
Military Museum California State Military Museum and Resource Center 2004

The overall theme is gold.

California is nicknamed The Golden State. It’s an official nickname, adopted in 1968. The state motto, Eureka (“I have found it”), is thought to recall the discovery of gold in 1848.

Shortly after gold was discovered, it was decided to steal what is now California from Mexico.

The rebels adopted a flag featuring a grizzly bear. The bear can still be seen on California’s flag, even though the last California grizzly was killed in 1922.

Today, the California grizzly is California’s official state animal.

California’s state flag and seal both rank among the best. The seal features a grizzly bear, grapes, a prospector, the state motto and ships sailing in the distance.

Can you guess what the official state mineral is? Gold!

California’s state flower is the California poppy. Early Spanish explorers called the beautiful flower copa de oro (“cup of gold”). As they sailed along the coast, they were stunned by hillsides covered with golden blossoms. They reportedly called it “The land of fire.”

Still more California symbols embrace this golden theme. However, California’s remaining symbols are a reminder that all that glitters is not gold. But is there any truth to the rumor that California has four official nuts?

* * * * *

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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