State Symbols

Find out more about the history of the emblems and state symbols that have come to represent California.

State Amphibian - Red Legged Frog

Amphibian – Red Legged Frog

California red-legged frogs are an endangered species due to the loss of habitat, invasive species, and water pollution.

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State Animal

Animal – California Grizzly Bear

The loss of habitat and over-hunting by a rapidly growing human population led to their complete extinction by the 1920s.

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State Bird - California Valley Quail

Bird – California Valley Quail

California Valley Quail live from Canada to Mexico and from the Pacific coast to Utah.

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State Colors - Blue and Gold

Colors – Blue and Gold

Blue and gold have long been associated with California.

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Swing Dance

Dance – West Coast Swing

The emergence of West Coast Swing dancing is a California story, rooted in the Lindy Hop of the 1930s and the later Jitterbug.

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State Dinosaur

Dinosaur – Augustynolophus Morrisi

The first was discovered in 1939 in Fresno County.

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State Fabric - Denim

Fabric – Denim

The origins of denim, the State Fabric, are found in the tough fabric itself and the history of Gold Rush California.

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Fife and Drum Band

Fife and Drum Band – California Consolidated Drum Band

Fifes and drums came to America from Western Europe and can be heard for long distances.

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State Flag


The California State Flag, also known unofficially as the “Bear Flag,” is the oldest unofficial State Symbol.

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State Flower - Golden Poppy

Flower – California Golden Poppy

The California golden poppy is bright orange with blue-green, fern-like leaves and grows in bushy clumps up to 2 feet tall and wide.

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State Folk Dance

Folk Dance – Square Dance

The square dance, performed by couples, has to be by far the most popular state dance form there is.

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State Fossil - Saber-Toothed Tiger

Fossil – Saber-Toothed Tiger

These cats roamed California during the Late Pleistocene, eventually going extinct approximately 10,000 years ago.

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Fish - Golden Trout

Freshwater Fish – California Golden Trout

The California golden trout, is native to California’s southern Sierra Nevada Mountains.

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State Gemstone - Benitoite

Gemstone – Benitoite

This rare gemstone is also known as the “blue diamond” because of its deep shades of transparent blue color.

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Gold Rush Ghost Town

Gold Rush Ghost Town – Bodie

Bodie was named after W. S. Body (or Bodey), who was first credited with discovering gold in Bodie in 1859.

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State Grass - Purple Needlegrass

Grass – Purple Needlegrass

Purple needlegrass helps the survival of young oak trees and provides food for over 330 species.

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Historical Society

Historical Society

The California Historical Society (CHS) has existed since 1871.

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State Insect - CA Dogface Butterfly

Insect – California Dogface Butterfly

This bright yellow, orange and black butterfly can be found only in California.

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LGTBQ Veteran Memorial

LGBTQ Veterans Memorial

The California LGBTQ Veterans Memorial is the first official veterans memorial of its type to be dedicated in the United States.

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Lace Lichen

Lichen – Lace Lichen

Lace lichens hang in clumps from tree bark and branches, grow up to 3 feet long, are flat, yellow-green and shaped like lace.

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State Marine Fish - Garibaldi

Marine Fish – Garibaldi

The garibaldi is a brilliant orange fish that lives in the Pacific Ocean from Monterey Bay south to Baja California.

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State Marine Mammal - CA Gray Whale

Marine Mammal – California Gray Whale

California gray whales are amazing travelers, migrating 14,000 miles a year.

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State Marine Reptile - Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle

Marine Reptile – Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle

Pacific leatherback sea turtles are the largest turtles and one of the largest living reptiles in the world.

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Military Museum

Military Museum

The Museum and Resource Center is home to more than 30,000 military artifacts as well as thousands of books and documents.

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State Mineral - Gold

Mineral – Gold

Gold is the precious metal that made the state of California. Since its first discovery in the 1820s, no other mineral has had a greater impact on the course of the state’s history than gold.

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Motto - Eureka

Motto – Eureka

Eureka means “I have found it!”

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State Nickname - Golden State

Nickname – Golden State

Golden State became the official State Nickname in 1968.

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State Nuts - Almond, Walnut, Pistachio, Pecan

Nuts: Almond, Walnut, Pistachio, Pecan

Despite official recognition as State Nuts, these four are not technically nuts.

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Prehistoric Artifact

Prehistoric Artifact

California is the only state to have a State Prehistoric Artifact.

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State Quarter


The quarter shows a scene with naturalist John Muir gazing on Yosemite with a California condor overhead

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State Reptile - Desert Tortoise

Reptile – Desert Tortoise

The desert tortoise can live 45-100 years.

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State Rock - Serpentine

Rock – Serpentine

Since 1965, serpentine has been the State Rock.

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State Seal


The Great Seal of the State of California was designed and approved at the 1849 Monterey Constitutional Convention.

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Silver Ghost Town - Calico

Silver Rush Ghost Town – Calico

The old town was restored and became part of the 480-acre San Bernardino County Regional Park in 1966

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State Soil - San Joaquin soil

Soil – San Joaquin

These well-drained deposited soils make for very productive agricultural lands.

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I love you California Songsheet

Song – “I Love You, California”

Songwriter F. B. Silverwood and composer A. F. Frankenstein, both of Los Angeles, wrote the song in 1913.

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Sport - Surfing

Sport – Surfing

Surfing was first introduced to the United States from Hawaii during the 19th century by California hotel owners.

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State Tall Ship - Californian

Tall Ship – Californian

The Californian continues to serve as a sailing school and educational vessel and takes part in many festivities, ceremonies, and events in the Pacific and Atlantic regions.

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State Tartan


It is based on the tartan of the family of the noted Scottish naturalist John Muir.

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State Theater - Pasadena Playhouse

Theater – Pasadena Playhouse

The Pasadena Playhouse began life as a small community theater in 1916.

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State Tree - California Redwood

Tree – California Redwood

There are two related native species of redwood trees, the Coast Redwood and giant Sequoia, which share the designation of State Tree.

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Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

This memorial is located in the California State Capitol Park.

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