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North Carolina State Symbols

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Welcome to the Tarheel State! North Carolina has some exciting symbols that represent the sea, including the red drum, Scotch bonnet, shad boat, and the fossilized teeth of the super-shark Megalodon. The state horse is the colonial Spanish mustang, which is associated with shipwrecks. (Continued below)

North Carolina State Flag
Nicknames & Slogans
Nicknames The Tar Heel State, Turpentine State, Old North State, First in Flight  
Symbols of State
Motto Esse Quam Videri 1893
Song The Old North State 1927
EcoSymbols
Flower dogwood (Cornus florida) 1941
Wildflower Carolina lily (Lilium michauxii) 2003
Tree pine (Pinus) 1963
Christmas tree Fraser fir (Abies fraseri) 2005
Fruit scuppermong (Vitis rotundifolia) 2001
Blue Berry blueberry (Vaccinium) 2001
Red Berry strawberry (Fragaria) 2001
Vegetable sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) 1995
Carnivorous Plant Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) 2005
Bird cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) 1943
Mammal gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) 1969
Marsupial Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginianus) 2013
Horse colonial Spanish mustang (Equus caballus) 2011
Dog Plott Hound (Canis lupus familiaris) 1989
Reptile eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina) 1979
Salamander marbled salamander (Ambystoma opacum) 2013
Frog Pine Barrens tree frog (Hyla andersonii) 2013
Amphibian (former) bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) 2007
Fish channel bass or red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) 1971
Freshwater Trout Southern Appalachian brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) 2005
Butterfly eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) 2012
Insect honeybee (Apis mellifera) Redundant Symbol 1973
Shell Scotch bonnet (Phalium granulatum) 1965
Mineral gold 2011
Rock granite 1979
Precious Stone emerald 1973
Fossil † Teeth of shark Megalodon 2013
Soil Cecil (unofficial) Unofficial
Cultural Symbols
Colors red and blue 1945
Boat shad boat 1987
Sport stock car racing 2011
Toast A Toast to North Carolina 1957
Tartan Carolina Tartan 1991
Cookie Moravian cookie 2023
Beverage milk Redundant Symbol 1987
Folk Dance clogging 2005
Popular Dance shag 2005
Art Medium clay 2013
Pottery Birthplace Seagrove Area 2005
Folk Art Whirligigs by Vollis Simpson 2013
Star Moravian star 2023
Theater Thalian Association 1975
Language English Redundant Symbol 1987
Veterans Day Parade Veterans Day Parade held in the Town of Warsaw 2016
Military Academy Oak Ridge Military Academy, Oak Ridge 1991
Flag Salute 2007

The nickname First in Flight recalls the Wright Brothers’ famous flight on a North Carolina beach. But were the Wright Brothers really the first to fly? There’s some conspiracy involved in their story, and the Smithsonian Institution is among the chief conspirators.

However, most of the Tarheel State’s symbols represent the land, from the Scuppermong grape to the gray squirrel and opossum. Though North Carolina’s official wildflower, the Carolina lily, is a unique symbol, nothing could be more unique than the Venus flytrap, which was designated its official carnivorous plant.

Another truly unique symbol is the famous Whirligigs, which was named the official folk art. They say it’s something you have to see to believe.

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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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