Art Medium — Clay

Adopted in 2013 as the state’s official art medium, clay is used to create traditional pottery. The state named the Seagrove area, which includes parts of Randolph, Moore, Chatham, Lee and Montgomery counties, as the official birthplace of traditional pottery in 2005. 

Blue Berry — Blueberry

Not be confused with the state fruit, the Scuppernong Grape, the blueberry (Vaccinium) is the state’s official blue berry. The statute classified all species of blueberry, not a particular type.

Interested in growing your own blueberries? According to the N.C. State Cooperative Extension Service, blueberries are one of the easiest fruits to grow. The organization recommends rabbiteye varieties in the Piedmont.They have a complete guide to growing blueberries.

You can also read about how the state insect, the honeybee, is important to the state blue berry.

 

Beverage — Milk

Adopted in 1987 as the official drink of North Carolina, North Carolina joins 19 other states having milk as their official beverage. The top counties in N.C. for dairy are Iredell, Randolph and Yadkin.

While N.C. has a long history of dairy production, it is probably more famous for soft drinks. Pepsi was created in New Bern, Cheerwine was launched in Salisbury and Sun Drop was long headquartered in Concord and is now part of Carolina Beverage Corporation, which owns Cheerwine.

 

 

Bird — Cardinal

(Bernard Thomas/Herald-Sun/AP)

The second state symbol after the dogwood was the cardinal as the state bird.

Boat — Shad Boat

The shad boat is so named for the type of fish the boat was commonly used to catch. Deployed in the sounds, the boat is small and maneuverable with a single mast and was made of white cedar.

George Washington Creef of Roanoke Island built the first shad boat in in the early 1880s. Few specimens of the boat remain. One is housed at the George Washington Creef Boathouse in Manteo, another at the Museum of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City, and another at Roanoke River Maritime Museum in Plymouth. 

The boat was named the state’s historical boat in 1987.

Butterfly — Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

(AP/News & Obsever/Chuck Liddy)

Adopted as the state butterfly in 2012,

Carnivorous Plant — Venus Flytrap

(AP Photo/Wilmington Star-News, Kev Blevins)

The Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) is a carnivorous plant native to North Carolina and South Carolina. It catches its prey of insects and spiders with its leaves, which are triggered by tiny hairs on the inner surfaces of the leaves.

Although cultivated for sale, the wild population of the Venus flytrap has declined in N.C. and the species is currently under Endangered Species Act review by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Arthur Dobbs, North Carolina’s colonial governor, called the flytrap a “great wonder of the vegetable kingdom” in 1759. It was named the state carnivorous plant in 2005.

Christmas Tree — Fraser Fir

The Fraser fir (Abies fraseri) was named the state Christmas Tree in 2005.

Dog — Plott Hound

Originally bred for bear hunting, this large hound was made the state dog in 1989. Part of coonhound classification with the American Kennel Club, the Plott Hound is named for George Plott, a German immigrant who moved to the N.C. in the late 1700s. He arrived with five boar hounds, which are the ancestors of the Plott Hound. A mountain range, The Plott Balsams, is also named for the Plott family.

In 2013, the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office trained two Plott Hounds for its K-9 unit.

South Carolina’s state dog, the Boykin Spaniel, is also known as the Swamp Poodle as it was bred for hunting wild turkeys and ducks in the South Carolina swamps.

Flower — Dogwood

The first symbol adopted for North Carolina was the Dogwood as the state flower in 1941.

Folk Dance — Clogging

Clogging was named the state’s official folk dance in 2005.

Fossil — Megalodon Teeth

Megalodon is is an extinct species of shark that lived millions of years ago between the Early Miocene and Pliocene eras. The ancient fish is considered to be the largest shark, and the largest fish, that ever lived.

The scientific name Carcharocles megalodon means “big tooth” and those big tooth are found regularly off North Carolina’s coast. Sometimes they even wash up on shore. The Megalodon tooth was made the official fossil of North Carolina in 2013. 

Freshwater Trout — Brook Trout

A rather specific title, the Southern Appalachian strain of brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) was named the state’s official freshwater trout in 2005.

Frog — Pine Barrens Tree Frog

Named the state frog in 2013, the Pine Barrens tree frog is actually named for a place in New Jersey. It is found in four distinct areas of the U.S. due to its special habitat needs: Pine Barrens, N.C., the Sandhills of N.C. and S.C., the Florida panhandle, and southern Alabama. 

Fruit — Scuppernong Grape

Named by the General Assembly as the official North Carolina fruit in 2001.

Horse — Colonial Spanish Mustang

Wild horses near Corolla, N.C. (Kevin Collins | CC)

Not to be confused with the Spanish Mustang, and official breed of horse, the state’s official horse is the Colonial Spanish Mustang. The term refers to a group of mostly feral horses which descended from the original Iberian horses brought from Spain to the New World.

The Colonial Spanish Mustang was named the state horse in 2010.

Insect — Honeybee

Vital to North Carolina’s top industry — agriculture — the honeybee was adopted as the state insect in 1973.

 

Mammal — Gray Squirrel

The gray squirrel was adopted as the state’s official mammal in 1969. The scientific name for the eastern gray squirrel is Sciurus carolinensis with the carolinensis referring to the Carolinas where the species was first recorded.

Marsupial — Virginia Opossum

(Cody Pope | CC)

Adopted in as the state marsupial in 2013, and also commonly known as the North American opossum, the Virginia Opposum is the only marsupial found north of Mexico

 

 

 

 

Mineral — Gold

North Carolina is home to many gold mines. North Carolina joins Alaska and California in having gold as the official state mineral.

Popular Dance — Shagging

The Carolina Shag is a partner dance done primarily to beach music. According to historians, the name was coined at Carolina Beach, N.C.

The basic step is a six-count, eight-step pattern danced in a slot.

The dance was featured in the feature film “Shag” which starred Phoebe Cates and Bridget Fonda.

Shagging was made the official state popular dance in 2005.

 

 

Precious Stone — Emerald

The most-prized of the green gemstones, the emerald was adopted as the state’s precious stone in 1973.

Red berry — Strawberry

Eamon Queeney—North State Journal
Strawberry Day at the State Farmers’ Market in Raleigh (North State Journal)

The strawberry is North Carolina’s official red berry.

Typically, North Carolina’s strawberry season ranges from mid-April to early June. Since timing is everything, the North Carolina Strawberry Association features a farm locator on its website to find one near your. From enjoying berries right off the vine to making jams, sauces, or add-ins for a sweet strawberry shortcake, there’s multiple uses for freshly picked strawberries. Both children and adults love the experience of picking their own, with a dose of nostalgia and a combined novelty of visiting the farm.

The N.C. Strawberry Festival happens each year in May in the town of Chadburn.

Fresh strawberries are delicious by themselves but if you want to take the flavor even further, try this 1928 strawberry shortcake recipe.

Reptile — Turtle

(AP/The Republic/Joel Philippsen)

Like the long leaf pine, the official state turtle is less than clear. The General Assembly named “the turtle” as the state reptile in 1979.

The eastern box turtle, scientific name Terrapene carolina carolina and subspecies of the common box turtle (Terrapene carolina), like the eastern gray squirrel, was first described in North Carolina. Likely for that reason, the legislature designated the subspecies “as the emblem representing the turtles inhabiting North Carolina.”

You can find eastern box turtles from Murphy to Manteo. While they are considered to be pond turtles, they are mostly found on dry land.

Rock — Granite

Adopted as the state rock in 1979, this igneous rock had diverse coloring and is useful in many applications. The word granite comes from the Latin granum, a grain, in reference to the coarse-grained structure of the crystalline rock.

Salamander — Marbled Salamander

The Marbled Salamander (Ambystoma opacum) was named the state salamander in 2013.

Saltwater Fish — Channel Bass (Red Drum)

The red drum is rarely referred to as the channel bass in North Carolina but both names were included when the General Assembly named the tasty sport fish the official saltwater fish in 1971.

Shell — Scotch Bonnet

The Scotch Bonnet was adopted as the state’s official shell in 1965. It was the first time a U.S. state designated an official shell. According to The Travel Channel, 13 other states designated official shells after the Old North State.

Tree — Pine

(AP/Robert F. Bukaty)

While many consider the long leaf pine to be the official tree of North Carolina, pine trees in general are officially the state tree by statute. The long leaf pine is officially the state tree of Alabama.

Many consider the long leaf pine to be the official state tree because the state’s highest civilian honor is the “Order of the Long Leaf Pine” and the state’s official toast begins with “Here’s to the land of the long leaf pine …”

The pine was the third official state symbol of North Carolina, adopted in 1963.

 

 

Vegetable — Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes at Vick Family Farms in Wilson, N.C.(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Since 1971, North Carolina has ranked as the top sweet potato-producing state in the nation. The Tarheel State produces nearly 60% of the U.S. supply. American Indians were growing sweet potatoes when Columbus discovered America in 1492 and some scientists believe that dinosaurs might have eaten these delicious vegetables. Sweet potatoes are cultivated from Murphy to Manteo, but 17 counties produce the bulk of the Old North State’s sweet potatoes.

The top producers of North Carolina official state vegetable are Sampson, Johnston, Wilson and Nash counties. The holiday season from Thanksgiving to Christmas marks the most popular time during the year to enjoy our state’s favorite vegetable.

Some people mistake a sweet potato for a yam but agriculturally, they are different. Almost all vegetables labelled as yams as actually sweet potatoes. The NC Yam Festival in Tabor City is actually a celebration of sweet potatoes. The sweet potato was named the state vegetable in 1955.

Wildflower — Carolina Lily

The Carolina lily can grow over three feet tall with four-inch flowers. It is the only fragrant lily east of the Rockies. 

The lily was named the official North Carolina wildflower in 2003.