Just click on the underlined words to see pictures of some of
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.
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 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.
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
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
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
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,
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,
- 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.
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
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).
THE OLD NORTH STATE
(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.
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.
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