Honey Bee Cartoon North Carolina State Symbols

Just click on the underlined words to see pictures of some of state symbols! 

The General Assembly of 2001 designated the blueberry as the official Blue Berry of North Carolina, and the strawberry as the state's official Red Berry. (Session laws, 2001, c. 488).

Grown throughout North Carolina, both of these berries are important to the state's agricultural economy. In the year 2000, the state's blueberry farmers grew 17,500,000 pounds of blueberries, and strawberry growers produced <23,000,000 pounds of strawberries, yielding a combined $35,325,000 in revenues. According to the 1997 Census of Agriculture, North Carolina was ranked 5th in the nation in the production of blueberries and 8th in the number of strawberries harvested.

A cup of blueberries supplies half of the vitamin C we need each day, as well as 22% of the fiber recommended for a healthy diet.

Strawberries are high in vitamins C and A.

  • Beverage, Milk

    The General Assembly of 1987 adopted milk as the official State Beverage. (Session Laws, 1987, c. 347).

    In making milk the official state beverage, North Carolina followed many other states including our northern neighbor, Virginia, and Wisconsin, the nation's number one dairy state.

    Dairy products rank 9th among major farm commodities in North Carolina, with the state's dairy farmers producing some 135 million gallons of milk per year. The annual income from this production amounts to nearly $200 million. North Carolinians consume over 143 million gallons of milk every year.

  • Bird, Cardinal

The Cardinal was selected by popular choice as our State Bird on March 4, 1943. (Session Laws, 1943. c. 595; G.S. 145-2)

The Cardinal is sometimes called the Winter Redbird because it is most noticeable during the winter when it is the only "redbird" present. A year-round resident of North Carolina, the Cardinal is one of the most common birds in our gardens, meadows, and woodlands. The male Cardinal is red all over, except for the area of its throat and the region around its bill which is black; it is about the size of a Catbird only with a longer tail. The head is conspicuously crested and the large stout bill is red. The female is much duller in color with the red confined mostly to the crest, wings, and tail. This difference in coloring is common among many birds. Since it is the female that sits on the nest, her coloring must blend more with her natural surroundings to protect her eggs and young from predators. There are no seasonal changes in her plumage.

The Cardinal is a fine singer, and what is unusual is that the female sings as beautifully as the male. The male generally monopolizes the art of song in the bird world.

The nest of the Cardinal is rather an untidy affair built of weed stems, grass and similar materials in low shrubs, small trees or bunches of briars, generally not over four feet above the ground. The usual number of eggs set is three in this State and four further North. Possibly the Cardinal raises an extra brood down here to make up the difference, or possibly the population is more easily maintained here by the more moderate winters compared to the colder North.

          The Cardinal is by nature a seed eater, but will also eat small fruits and insects.

  • Butterfly, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

The General Assembly of 2012 designated the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail as the official Butterfly of North Carolina. (Session Laws, 2012, c. 29)

Native to North America, the Eastern tiger swallowtail is believed to have first been drawn by John White, artist, cartographer and governor of the Roanoke Island colony that has come to be known as “The Lost Colony.”

The General Assembly of 1987 adopted the shad boat as the official State Historical Boat. (Session Laws, 1987, c. 366).

The Shad Boat was developed on Roanoke Island and is known for its unique crafting and maneuverability. The name is derived from that of the fish it was used to catch - the shad.

Traditional small sailing craft were generally ill-suited to the waterways and weather conditions along the coast. The shallow draft of the Shad Boat plus its speed and easy handling made the boat ideal for the upper sounds where the water was shallow and the weather changed rapidly. The boats were built using native trees such as cypress, juniper, and white cedar, and varied in length between twenty-two and thirty-three feet. Construction was so expensive that the production of the Shad Boat ended in the 1930s, although they were widely used into the 1950s. The boats were so well constructed that some, nearly 100 years old, are still seen around Manteo and Hatteras.

The General Assembly of 2005 adopted the Venus flytrap as the official Carnivorous Plant of North Carolina. (Session Laws, 2005, c. 74).

A small flowering perennial plant, the Venus flytrap is unique in that the hinged lobes of its leaves shut to form a trap when stimulated by insects lighting upon them.

Grown and cultivated through much of the world, the Venus flytrap is only native to a small area of North Carolina's Coastal Plain and is legally protected as a Species of Special Concern, meaning it is monitored but may be collected and sold under established regulations.

The General Assembly of 2005 adopted the Fraser fir as the official Christmas Tree of North Carolina. (Session Laws, 2005, c. 387).

Eighth Grade students at Harris middle School in Spruce Pine petitioned the General Assembly to establish the Fraser fir as the Official State Christmas Tree after studying the Fraser fir industry's economic impact on the state's economy. 

The Fraser fir grows naturally only in the Southern Appalachian mountains and is named for Scottish botanist John Fraser, who explored the Southern Appalachians of North Carolina in the late 1700s.

  • Colors, Red and Blue

    The General Assembly of 1945 declared Red and Blue of shades appearing in the North Carolina State Flag and the American Flag as the official State Colors. (Session Laws, 1945, c. 878).

  • Dances, Clogging, the Shag

The General Assembly of 2005 adopted Clogging as the official folk dance of North Carolina, and the Shag as the official popular dance of North Carolina. (Session Laws, 2005, c. 218).

Clogging is a traditional American folk dance that developed in the Southern Appalachian mountains during the Colonial period. This distinctive dance has been influenced by European, African-American, and Native American folk dance traditions. North Carolina plays host to a number of clogging competitions and events each year.

The shag is a form of swing dancing that originated on the Carolina coast in the 1940s and is most often associated with Carolina beach music. North Carolina is home to several shag competitions that draw accomplished dancers from across the nation. 

The Plott Hound was officially adopted as our State Dog on August 12, 1989. (Session Laws of North Carolina, 1989, c. 773; G.S. 145-13).

The Plott Hound breed originated in the mountains of North Carolina around 1750 and is the only breed known to have originated in this State. Named for Jonathan Plott who developed the breed as a wild boar hound, the Plott Hound is a legendary hunting dog known as a courageous fighter and tenacious tracker. He is also a gentle and extremely loyal companion to hunters of North Carolina. The Plott Hound is very quick of foot with superior treeing instincts and has always been a favorite of big-game hunters.

The Plott Hound typically has a beautiful brindle-colored coat and a spine-tingling, bugle-like call. It is also one of only four breeds known to be of American origin.

The General Assembly of 1971 designated the Channel Bass (Red Drum) as the official State Salt Water Fish. (Session Laws, 1971, c. 274; G.S. 145-6).

Channel Bass usually occur in great supply along the Tar Heel coastal waters and have been found to weigh up to 75 pounds although most large ones average between 30 and 40 pounds.

Follow the evolution of the State Flag of North Carolina.

The General Assembly of 1941 designated the dogwood as the State Flower. (Public Laws, 1941, c. 289; G.S. 145-1).

The Dogwood is one of the most prevalent trees in North Carolina and can be found in all parts of the state from the mountains to the coast. Its blossoms, which appear in early spring and continue on into summer, are most often found in white, although shades of pink (red) are not uncommon.

  • Frog, Pine Barrens Treefrog

The General Assembly of 2013 adopted the Pine Barrens Treefrog as the official Frog of North Carolina (Session Laws, 2013, c. 189)

The rare Pine Barren Treefrog can be found in the Sandhills and Coastal Plain regions of North Carolina. Raleigh teenager Rachel Hopkins led the effort to designate the Marbled Salamander and the Pine Barren Treefrog as state symbols in order to raise awareness of the importance of amphibian conservation.

The General Assembly of 2005 adopted the Southern Appalachian brook trout as the official Freshwater Trout of North Carolina. (Session Laws, 2005, c. 387).

The Southern Appalachian brook trout is commonly found in the state's mountain streams. North Carolina is home to more self-sustaining populations of the Southern Appalachian brook trout than any other state. Sometimes known as "speckle" trout because of its speckled appearance, the Southern Appalachian brook trout is a favorite of sport fisherman in the cold mountain streams of North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina, and Kentucky.

The General Assembly of 2001 designated the Scuppernong grape as the official State Fruit (Session laws, 2001, c. 488).

The first grape to be actively cultivated in the United States, the Scuppernong is a variety of muscadine grape. It was named for the Scuppernong River, which runs from Washington County to the Albemarle Sound. The Roanoke colonists are believed to have discovered the Scuppernong “Mother Vineyard,” a vine that is now over 400 years old and has a trunk more than two feet thick.

Grape cultivation is a small but growing part of the North Carolina economy. The value of the state’s 2000 crop was over $2,600,000, up 17% from 1999.

  • Horse, Colonial Spanish Mustang

The General Assembly of 2010 adopted the Colonial Spanish Mustang as the official Horse of North Carolina. (Session Laws, 2010, c. 6)

Believed to be descendants of the Colonial Spanish Mustangs brought to the Americas by Spanish explorers dating back to the 16th century, wild horses have roamed North Carolina’s Outer Banks for hundreds of years. Following numerous requests from the students of Shawboro Elementary

School in Currituck County, as well as the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, the General Assembly designated the Spanish Colonial Mustang as the Official Horse of the State of North Carolina to honor the role they have played in the history and culture of the Outer Banks.

The General Assembly of 1973 designated the Honey Bee as the official State Insect. (Session Laws, 1973, c.55).

This industrious creature is responsible for the annual production of more than $2,000,000 million worth of honey in the state. However, the greatest value of Honey Bees is their role in the growing cycle as a major contributor to the pollination of North Carolina crops.

The General Assembly of 1969 designated the Gray Squirrel as the official State Mammal. (Session Laws, 1969, c. 1207; G.S. 145-5).

The gray squirrel is a common inhabitant of most areas of North Carolina from "the swamps of eastern North Carolina to the upland hardwood forests of the piedmont and western counties." He feels more at home in an "untouched wilderness" environment, although many squirrels inhabit our city parks and suburbs. During the fall and winter months the gray squirrel survives on a diet of hardwoods, with acorns providing carbohydrates and proteins. In the spring and summer, their diet consists of "new growth and fruits" supplemented by early corn, peanuts, and insects.

  • Marsupial, Virginia Opossom

The General Assembly of 2013 adopted the Virginia Opossom as the official Marsupial of North Carolina. (Session Laws, 2013, c. 189)

The Virginia opossum is native to North Carolina and is the only marsupial found in North America. It is also one of the oldest and most primitive species of mammal found in North America. The female carries its underdeveloped young in a pouch until they are capable of living independently, similar to a kangaroo.

The Virginia opossum is nocturnal and lives in a wide variety of habitats, including deciduous forests, open woods, and farmland but prefers wet areas such as marshes, swamps, and streams.

  • Mineral, Gold

The General Assembly of 2011 designated Gold as the Official Mineral of North Carolina. (Session Laws, 2011, c. 233)

North Carolina was the site of America’s first Gold Rush. It all began in 1799 when twelve year old Conrad Reed found a 17 pound gold nugget while fishing in a Cabarrus County Creek. For the first half of the 19th century, gold mining was North Carolina’s second most important industry after agriculture.

  • Motto, Esse Quam Videri

    The General Assembly of 1893 (chapter 145) adopted the words "Esse Quam Videri" as the State's motto and directed that these words with the date "20 May, 1775," be placed with our Coat of Arms upon the Great Seal of the State.

    The words "Esse Quam Videri" mean "to be rather than to seem." Nearly every State has adopted a motto, generally in Latin. The reason for mottoes being in Latin is that the Latin language is far more condensed and terse than the English. The three words, "Esse Quam Videri," require at least six English words to express the same idea.

    Curiosity has been aroused to learn the origin of our State motto. It is found in Cicero's essay on Friendship (Cicero de Amnicitia, Chapter 26).

    It is somewhat unique that until the act of 1893 the sovereign State of North Carolina had no motto since its declaration of independence. It was one of the few states which did not have a motto and the only one of the original thirteen without one.

  • Nickname, The Old North State or The Tar Heel State

    In 1629, King Charles I of England "erected into a province," all the land from Albemarle Sound on the north to the St. John's River on the south, which he directed should be called Carolina. The word Carolina is from the word Carolus, the Latin form of Charles.

    When Carolina was divided in 1710, the southern part was called South Carolina and the northern, or older settlement, North Carolina. From this came the nickname the "Old North State." Historians have recorded that the principle products during the early history of North Carolina were "tar, pitch, and turpentine." It was during one of the fiercest battles of the War Between the States, so the story goes, that the column supporting the North Carolina troops was driven from the field. After the battle the North Carolinians, who had successfully fought it out alone, were greeted from the passing derelict regiment with the question: "Any more tar down in the Old North State, boys?" Quick as a flash came the answer: "No, not a bit, old Jeff's bought it all up." "Is that so; what is he going to do with it?" was asked. "He's going to put on you-un's heels to make you stick better in the next fight." Creecy relates that General Lee, upon hearing of the incident, said: "God bless the Tar Heel boys," and from that they took the name (Adapted from Grandfather Tales of North Carolina by R.B. Creecy and Histories of North Carolina Regiments, Vol. III, by Walter Clark).

  • Pottery Birthplace, Seagrove Area

The 2005 General Assembly designated the Seagrove area as the State Birthplace of Traditional Pottery. (Session Laws, 2005, c. 78)

Artisans began crafting traditional pottery in North Carolina around 1750 in the clay rich Seagrove area, which includes portions of Randolph, Chatham, Moore and Montgomery counties, and a number of families have continued the tradition for nine generations. Considered to be the state's pottery capital, Seagrove is also home to the annual Seagrove Pottery Festival, which has become the premier traditional pottery event in North Carolina.

The General Assembly of 1979 designated the Eastern box turtle as the official State Reptile for North Carolina. (Session Laws, 1979, c. 154).

The eastern box turtle is terrestrial, meaning it lives on land, and is most commonly found  in and near wooded areas. These turtles' high domed top shells and hinged bottom shells allow them to completely close their shells for protection when predators are on the prowl. 

Eastern box turtles hibernate in winter and the females typically lay their eggs in June and July. These turtles can live longer than 50 years! While still common in many areas, the eastern box turtle population has declined, partly due to human activity, including being caught as pets and the destruction of its natural habitats.

The General Assembly of 1979 designated Granite as the official Rock for the State of North Carolina. (Session Laws, 1979, c. 906).

The State of North Carolina has been blessed with an abundant source of "the noble rock," granite. Just outside Mount Airy in Surry County is the largest open face granite quarry in the world, measuring one mile long and 1,800 feet in width. The granite from this quarry is unblemished, gleaming, and without interfering seams to mar its splendor. The high quality of this granite allows its widespread use as a building material, in both industrial and laboratory applications where super smooth surfaces are necessary.

North Carolina granite has been used for many magnificent edifices of government throughout the United States such as the Wright Brothers Memorial at Kitty Hawk, the gold depository at Fort Knox, the Arlington Memorial Bridge and numerous courthouses throughout the land. Granite is a symbol of strength and steadfastness, qualities characteristic of North Carolinians. It is fitting and just that the State recognize the contribution of granite in providing employment to its citizens and enhancing the beauty of its public buildings.

  • Salamander, Marbled Salamander

The General Assembly of 2013 adopted the Marbled Salamander as the official Salamander of North Carolina. (Session Laws, 2013, c. 189)

A striking Amphibian with a unique color pattern, the Marbled Salamander can be found throughout North Carolina. Raleigh teenager Rachel Hopkins led the effort to designate the Marbled Salamander and the Pine Barren Treefrog as state symbols in order to raise awareness of the importance of amphibian conservation.

The General Assembly of 1965 designated the Scotch Bonnet (pronounced bonay) as the State Shell. (Session Laws, 1965, c. 681).

A colorful and beautifully shaped shell, the Scotch Bonnet is abundant in North Carolina coastal waters at depths between 500 and 200 feet. The best source of live specimens is from offshore commercial fishermen.

  • Song, The Old North State

    The song known as "The Old North State" was adopted as the official song of the State of North Carolina by the General Assembly of 1927. (Public Laws, 1927, c. 26; G.S. 149-1).


    (William Gaston; Collected and Arranged by Mrs. E. E. Randolph)

    Carolina! Carolina! heaven's blessings attend her,
    While we live we will cherish, protect and defend her,
    Tho' the scorner may sneer at and witlings defame her,
    Still our hearts swell with gladness whenever we name her.
    Hurrah! Hurrah! the Old North State forever,
    Hurrah! Hurrah! the good Old North State.

    Tho' she envies not others, their merited glory,
    Say whose name stands the foremost, in liberty's story,
    Tho' too true to herself e'er to crouch to oppression,
    Who can yield to just rule a more loyal submission.
    Hurrah! Hurrah! the Old North State forever,
    Hurrah! Hurrah! the good Old North State.

    Then let all those who love us, love the land that we live in,
    As happy a region as on this side of heaven,
    Where plenty and peace, love and joy smile before us,
    Raise aloud, raise together the heart thrilling chorus.
    Hurrah! Hurrah! the Old North State forever,
    Hurrah! Hurrah! the good Old North State.

  • Stone, Emerald

The General Assembly of 1973 designated the emerald as the official State Precious Stone. (Session Laws, 1973, c. 136).

A greater variety of minerals, more than 300, have been found in North Carolina than in any other state.

These minerals include some of the most valuable and unique gems in the world. The largest Emerald ever found in North Carolina was 1,438 carats and was found at Hiddenite, near Statesville. The "Carolina Emerald," now owned by Tiffany & Company of New York was also found at Hiddenite in 1970. When cut to 13.14 carats, the stone was valued at the time at $100,000 and became the largest and finest cut emerald on the continent.

The General Assembly of 1991 designated the Carolina Tartan as the official Tartan of North Carolina. (Session Laws, 1991, c. 85). 

Tartan, a plaid textile design consisting of stripes of varying width and color, was first worn by Scottish Highlanders. Scottish families began to settle in both North and South Carolina in the late 1600s, with Scots eventually becoming a vital part of both colonies. The Carolina Tartan - a variation of a tartan associated with King Charles II - is believed to be the first tartan design sanctioned for a group of U.S. states. 

  • Toast, The Tar Heel Toast

    The following toast was officially adopted as the State Toast of North Carolina by the General Assembly of 1957. (Session Laws, 1957, c. 777).

Here's to the land of the long leaf pine,
The summer land where the sun doth shine,
Where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great,
Here's to "Down Home," the Old North State!

Here's to the land of the cotton bloom white,
Where the scuppernong perfumes the breeze at night,
Where the soft southern moss and jessamine mate,
'Neath the murmuring pines of the Old North State!

Here's to the land where the galax grows,
Where the rhododendron's rosette glows,
Where soars Mount Mitchell's summit great,
In the "Land of the Sky," in the Old North State!

Here's to the land where maidens are fair,
Where friends are true and cold hearts rare,
The near land, the dear land, whatever fate,
The blest land, the best land, the Old North State!

The pine was officially designated as the State Tree by the General Assembly of 1963. (Session Laws, 1963, c. 41).

The pine is the most common of the trees found in North Carolina, as well as the most important one in the history of our State. During the Colonial and early Statehood periods, the pine was a vital part of the economy of North Carolina. From it came many of the "naval stores" - resin, turpentine, and timber - needed by merchants and the navy for their ships. The pine has continued to supply North Carolina with many important wood products, particularly in the building industry.

The sweet potato was officially designated the State Vegetable by the General Assembly of 1995. (Session Laws, 1995, c. 521).

Students at a Wilson County school petitioned the North Carolina General Assembly for the establishment of the sweet potato as the Official State Vegetable. North Carolina is the largest producer of sweet potatoes in the nation, harvesting over four billion pounds of the vegetable in 1989. The sweet potato is high in vitamins A and C and low in fat and was grown in North Carolina before the European colonization of North America.

In 2003, the General Assembly designated the Carolina Lily (Lilium michauxii) as the official State wildflower (Session Laws, 2003, c. 426).

Named for Andre Michaux, a noted eighteenth century naturalist and explorer, this flower grows throughout the state, from the forests and hills of Cherokee County to the coastal swamplands (pocosins) of Hyde and Pamlico counties. The stem can grow up to 4 feet high, and can have up to 6 flowers at the summit, though 1-3 are more common. The petals are brilliant red-orange with brown spots, and arched back so that the tips overlap.

The Carolina Lily grows throughout the southeast, from West Virginia to Florida, and can bloom as late as October, though it is most prevalent in July and August.

(Descriptions of symbols courtesy of the North Carolina Manual and the North Carolina Encyclopedia.)

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