The following paragraphs give some information about most of the State Symbols and Adoptions in the General Statutes of North Carolina. Many of the entries were substantially revised and updated in 2007, and new pictures were added where possible. Statistical information was drawn from state or federal government sources. Thumbnails link to larger pictures, most of which are in the public domain (except where noted). The texts of Session Laws prior to 1983 are provided by the State Library of North Carolina; acts passed in 1983 and subsequently are linked to the N.C. General Assembly website.
Statutes about the State Symbols are from the N.C. General Assembly website (http://www.ncleg.net)
Chapter 144 - State Flag, Official Governmental Flags, Motto, and Colors.
Chapter 145 - State Symbols and Other Official Adoptions.
Chapter 147-26 (State Seal)
Chapter 149 - State Song and Toast.
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Strawberries (genus fragaria) are high in Vitamin C and A, and supply 8% of the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance), for Iron. There are only 60 calories in a cup of fresh berries and zero grams of fat. A cup of blueberries (genus vaccinium) supplies 50% of the RDA for Vitamin C, as well as 22% of the fiber recommended for a healthy diet.
The session law itself explains how important these two berries are to the agricultural economy of the state. In the year 2005, strawberries brought in over $19,000,000, while the blueberry created over $37,000,000 in revenues. According to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, North Carolina was ranked 3rd in the nation in 2006 in strawberry production, and 5th in blueberry production.
Both berries are grown throughout the state, and consumers can pick their own berries at farms from one end of the North Carolina to the other. The NC Department of Agriculture provides a list of pick-your-own farms at NC Farm Fresh.
In making milk the official state beverage, North Carolina followed 17 other states, including both South Carolina and Virginia.
According to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, North Carolina ranks 31st among dairy producing states in the nation, producing just over 1,000,000 pounds of milk per year. Receipts in 2006 from milk production was approximately $139 million.
The Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) 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 farther 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.
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 Museum of the Albemarle embarked on a project in 1995 to restore a shad boat to working condition:
The General Assembly of 2005 adopted the Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) as the official State Carnivorous Plant (Session Laws, 2005, c. 74) .
Though it is known and cultivated throughout the world, it is native only to a small area of the Coastal Plain in North and South Carolina (mostly within a 75 mile radius around Wilmington).
The trap is activated when an insect (or other object) brushes 2 or more times against bristles that grow on the surface of the leaf. The trap springs shut in less than a second, but doesn't close completely until it has determined (either chemically or through movement) if it has caught worthwhile food. If it has, the trap gradually seals completely shut, allowing digestion to take place. It reopens in 3 days to 2 weeks.
The Venus Flytrap is currently listed as a Species of Special Concern, which means, "...any species of plant in North Carolina which requires monitoring but which may be collected and sold under regulations adopted under the provisions of this Article" (NCGS 106-202.12). It is also listed as Vulnerable on the Red List from the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). This means that it is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.
The General Assembly of 2005 adopted the Fraser Fir as the official Christmas Tree for the State of North Carolina (Session Laws, 2005, c. 387).
This law is the result of the hard work of Eighth Grade students at Harris Middle School in Spruce Pine, who researched the economic impact of the Fraser Fir industry on the state, and suggested this species as a new state symbol.
The Fraser fir (Abies fraseri) derives its name from John Fraser, a Scottish botanist who explored the Appalachian Mountains in the 1700's, and was a collaborator and competitor with Andre Michaux (see Carolina Lily on this page). Fraser firs, which are native to the Appalachian Mountains, can reach a height of 80 feet and may have trunks as large as 18 inches in diameter.
The Fraser Fir can take as long as 12 years to grow to retail Christmas Tree height (6-7 feet), and will be visited by the grower more than 100 times during its life. The Fraser Fir has been chosen 10 times since 1971 (most recently in 2007) as the White House Christmas Tree, and constitutes more than 90% of Christmas tree production in North Carolina.
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).
No specific meanings have been attached to the colors. However, the following paragraphs are copied from page 41 of Our Flag, published by the U.S. Government Printing Office in 1997, under the auspices of the Joint Committee on Printing in the United States Congress:
In heraldic devices, such as seals, each element has a specific meaning. Even colors have specific meanings. The colors red, white, and blue did not have meanings for the Stars and Stripes when it was adopted in 1777. However, the colors in the Great Seal did have specific meanings. Charles Thompson, Secretary of the Continental Congress, reporting to Congress on the Seal, stated:"The colors of the pales (the vertical stripes) are those used in the flag of the United States of America; White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness & valour, and Blue, the color of the Chief (the broad band above the stripes) signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice."
In 2007, the General Assembly designated the Thalian Association of Wilmington as the Official Community Theater of the State of North Carolina (Session Laws, 2007, c. 68).
In Greek mythology, Thalia was the Muse of Comedy and Pastoral Poetry.
The General Assembly of 2005 adopted Clogging as the official folk dance, and Shagging as the official popular dance. (Session Laws, 2005, c. 218)
Clogging (the name of which derives from the Gaelic word for "time") is the name of a distinctive dance style which originated in the Appalachian mountains. Settlers from Northern and Western Europe (such as Holland, Germany, and the British Isles) brought their respective folk dance traditions to the colonies, which were further shaped by Native American and African American dance influences. These influences all combined and evolved into a percussive "foot-tapping" style of dance now known as Clogging. In the 1920's, Bascom Lamar Lunsford added team clogging to the competitions held at his annual Mountain Dance and Folk Festival in Asheville, thus helping to establish Clogging as a significant part of Appalachian cultural heritage.
The Shag is of much more recent origin, being a type of swing dance that developed in the 1930's and 40's. Shagging, combining nimble footwork with upbeat rhythm and blues (known as Beach music) originated at open air beach parties on the North and South Carolina coasts, and is also the official dance for the State of South Carolina.
The Plott Hound breed of dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) 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. The Plott Hound 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 has a beautiful brindle-colored coat and a spine-tingling, bugle-like call. It is also only one of four breeds known to be of American origin.
The American Kennel Club recognized the Plott Hound as a distinctive breed in 1998, and added it to the Hound group (that is, made it eligible for competition) in 2007.
In 1993, the General Assembly adopted the Hertford County Watermelon Festival as the official Northeastern North Carolina Watermelon Festival (Session Laws, 1993, c. 212).
In 1993, the General Assembly also designated the Fair Bluff Watermelon Festival as the official Southeastern North Carolina Watermelon Festival (Session Laws, 1993, c. 212).
In 2003, the General Assembly designated Folkmoot USA as the official State International Festival (Session Laws, 2003, c. 315).
In 2007, the General Assembly designated the Ayden Collard Festival as the official State Collard Festival (Session Laws, 2007, c. 28).
In 2007, the General Assembly designated the Lexington Barbecue Festival as the official Food Festival of the North Carolina Piedmont Triad (Session Laws, 2007, c. 533).
Channel Bass (Sciaenops ocellatus) are usually found in large numbers 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 here. The statutes relating to the flag are in the N.C. General Statutes, Chapter 144.
In 2007, the General Assembly approved the language for an Official Salute to the State Flag of North Carolina (Session Laws, 2007, c. 36).
The Dogwood (Cornus florida) 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 and red are not uncommon.
The General Assembly of 2005 named the Southern Appalachian Brook Trout as the official Freshwater Trout for the State of North Carolina (Session Laws, 2005, c. 387).
The Southern Appalachian Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) is a genetically distinct species that is North Carolina's only native freshwater trout. Sometimes known as "specks" because of their unique spotted appearance, the Brook trout is a favorite of sport fishermen in the cold mountain streams of Western North Carolina, as well as in Tennessee, Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina, and Kentucky.
The General Assembly of 2001 named the Scuppernong grape as the official State Fruit (Session laws, 2001, c. 488).
The Scuppernong (vitis rotundifolia) is a variety of muscadine grape, and has the distinction of being the first grape ever actively cultivated in the United States. It was named for the Scuppernong River, which runs from Washington County to the Albemarle Sound. Giovanni de Verrazano noticed this variety as far back as 1524, and explorers for Sir Walter Raleigh (or Ralegh, as it's sometimes spelled) in the 1580�s sent back reports from the Outer Banks of grape vines that ��covered every shrub and climbed the tops of high cedars. In all the world, a similar abundance was not to be found.� The Roanoke colonists are credited with discovering the Scuppernong �Mother Vineyard,� a vine that is now over 400 years old and covers half an acre.
Grape cultivation (of scuppernong and other varieties) is a small but growing part of the North Carolina economy. According to a 2007 press release from Governor Easley's office, North Carolina is now ranked tenth in the nation for both grape and wine production, and the industry produces $813 million a year for the state's economy.
The Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) is responsible for the annual production of more than $1 million worth of honey in the state, according to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. 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. According to a 2005 estimate, honey bees account for approximately $154 million in annual crop productivity in North Carolina.
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." The squirrel feels more at home in an "untouched wilderness" environment, although many squirrels inhabit 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.
The General Assembly of 1893 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 (Session Laws 1893, c. 145).
The motto is a literal translation of a phrase from a sentence in Cicero's "On Friendship" (De Amicitia, chapter 26). The complete sentence in Latin is:
Virtute enim ipsa non tam multi praediti esse quam videri volunt (see below for translations).
Until the act of 1893, North Carolina had no motto, being one of the few states--and the only one of the original thirteen--without one.
Translations and original essay:
"Fewer possess virtue, than those who wish us to believe that they possess it." (Giga Quotes, under "Virtue")
"The fact is that fewer people are endowed with virtue than wish to be thought to be so." (Shuckburgh translation)
"...[N]ot nearly so many people want actually to be possessed of virtue as want to appear to be possessed of it." (from On Old Age and On Friendship, trans. by Frank Copley, Ann Arbor, U Mich. Press, 1967, p. 87).
"...[F]or the Numbers of the really virtuous are not so great, as they appear to be." (from M.T. Cicero, His Offices, trans. by William Guthrie, Esq., London, T. Waller, 1755, p. 317).
De Amicitia (Entire essay in Latin)
The word Carolina comes from Carolus, the Latin form of the name Charles.
In 1629, King Charles I granted territory in America to his Attorney General, Sir Robert Heath, to be named Carolina, or the province of Carolina (though later in the same charter the province is referred to as Carolana or New Carolana).
The province was to be comprised of all the land lying between "the Ocean upon the east side & soe to the west & soe fare as the Continent extends itselfe...." The northern border was to be the 36th parellel (roughly on a line from Kill Devil Hills to Knoxville Tn.). The southern border was the 31st parellel, thus extending through most of Georgia (the state border between Florida and Alabama follows this line of latitude).
In 1663, King Charles II granted a new charter to the Lords Proprietors for the same territory. Two years later, the charter expanded the colony north to 36° 30', thus reaching approximately to the current NC/Va border, and south to 29° N latitude (just south of Daytona Beach).
The Old North State
The Carolina colony was divided in 1710, when the Lords Proprietors appointed Edward Hyde to be "...Governour for North Carolina Independent of the Governour of South Carolina." The southern part was called South Carolina and the older, northern settlement North Carolina. From this came the nickname the "Old North State."
The first known instance of the phrase is from the Introduction to Joseph Seawell Jones' book Defence of the Revolutionary History of the State of North Carolina from the Aspersions of Mr. Jefferson.
Tar Heel State
The origin of this nickname is mysterious, though most historians agree that the name derives from North Carolina's long history as a producer of naval stores--tar, pitch, rosin and turpentine--all of which were culled from the State's extensive pine forests. The historians Hugh Lefler and Albert Newsome, in their book North Carolina: the History of a Southern State (3rd edition, 1973, p. 97) state categorically that "[i]n fact, North Carolina led the world in the production of naval stores from about 1720 to 1870, and it was this industry which gave to North Carolina its nickname, 'Tar Heel State'."
Various stories and legends have sprung up to explain where the name came from. Perhaps the most popular is found in Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War 1861-1865 (edited by Walter Clark):
Thus after one of the fiercest battles, in which their supporting column was driven from the field and they successfully fought it out alone, in the exchange of compliments of the occasion the North Carolinians were greeted with the question from the passing derelict regiment: "Any more tar down in the Old North State, boys?" Quick as thought 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 is going to put it on you'ns heels to make you stick better in the next fight." (Vol. 3, p. 376)
The following paragraph appears in R.B. Creecy's Grandfather Tales of North Carolina History (1901):
During the late unhappy war between the States it [North Carolina] was sometimes called the "Tar-heel State," because tar was made in the State, and because in battle the soldiers of North Carolina stuck to their bloody work as if they had tar on their heels, and when General Lee said, "God bless the Tar-heel boys," they took the name. (p. 6)
While there may be no direct proof that Robert E. Lee ever spoke in such a fashion, there is at least some indirect evidence. In a letter dating from 1864 (currently housed in the State Archives and part of their "Tar Heel Collection") from Colonel Joseph Engelhard describing the Battle of Ream's Station in Virginia, he writes: "It was a ' Tar Heel ' fight, and ... we got Gen'l Lee to thanking God, which you know means something brilliant."
The area centered around Seagrove (including portions of Randolph, Chatham, Moore, and Montgomery Counties) has been a center for potters and pottery making for more than 250 years. Several families have been creating pottery in this clay rich area of the Piedmont for nine generations.
So rich and unique is this heritage that an annual Seagrove Pottery Festival is held, and the North Carolina Pottery Center was opened in 1998 to promote and preserve the State's unique and longlastingcontribution to this craft.
The Eastern Box Turtle is found all along the East Coast, and as far inland as Michigan, Kansas, and Texas. The name derives from the box turtle's ability to retract its head and legs into its shell and clamp it shut, thus creating a protective "box." Eastern Box Turtles are omnivores, living on a varied diet of plants and plant roots, fish, snails, berries, fungi, snails, and even small birds or snakes. Some turtles may live to be over 100, though 40 - 60 years is the average.
The Eastern Box Turtle is listed as "Near Threatened" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). While not officially considered Endangered or Vulnerable, the status of the Eastern Box Turtle should be monitored to avoid continued population decline.
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 supersmooth surfaces are necessary.
North Carolina granite has been used for many magnificent edificies 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.
In 2004, North Carolina mined over 51 million metric tons of granite.
The State Seal of North Carolina has seen many changes since its origins in 1663.
Trace the evolution of the Great Seal of the State of North Carolina.
The General Assembly of 1965 designated the Scotch Bonnet (pronounced bonay) as the State Shell. (Session Laws, 1965, c. 681).
First cataloged by Ingaz, Edler von Born, in 1778, the Scotch Bonnet (Phalium granulatum) is found along the the Atlantic Coast from North Carolina to Brazil. The shell was so named because of its resemblance to the caps worn by Scottish peasants, and because the coloration resembles a Scottish plaid or tartan.
The Scotch Bonnet is a gastropod, in the same class with such mollusks as snails, slugs, and limpets. It is abundant in North Carolina coastal waters at depths between 50 to 150 feet. The best source of live specimens is from offshore commercial fishermen.
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.
Sheet music for two versions is available:
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. An emerald crystal weighing 1869 carats, thought to be the largest ever found in North America, was unearthed in late 2003 at a mine in Hiddenite, near Statesville. A 71-carat stone found on the same property yielded two finished stones--the 7.85 carat Carolina Prince that sold for $500,000, and the Carolina Queen (18.88 carats).
More information on emeralds and minerology
The General Assembly of 1991 officially designated pattern known as the Carolina Tartan to be the official State Tartan (Session Laws, 1991, c. 85).
A unique blend of red, azure, black, yellow, green and white, the Carolina Tartan was first registered with the Scottish Tartans Society in 1981, and is also the Official Tartan for South Carolina. The design is a variation of a tartan associated with two monarchs--King Charles II, who gave his name to the Carolinas, and the honorary bodyguard of King George II, who designated both North and South Carolina as Royal Colonies in 1729. Large numbers of Scots helped to colonize the Carolinas in the 17th and 18th centuries, and the State is now home to a number of festivals, games, and organizations that celebrate Carolina's Scottish heritage, including the Flora MacDonald Highland Games, the Scottish Tartan Museum, and the North Carolina Scottish Heritage Society.
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!
Contrary to popular belief, no specific type of pine tree was specified in the Session Law. Eight types are considered indigenous to the state, including the eastern white, loblolly, longleaf, pitch, pond, shortleaf, table mountain, and virginia. 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.
According to North Carolina Forests, 2002 (published by the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service), softwood species (like pine, hemlock, and spruce) made up 34% of the state's total wood volume, with the loblolly pine being the predominant species.
Students at a Wilson County school petitioned the North Carolina General Assembly for the establishment of the sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) as the Official State Vegetable. Their assignment led to the creation of this state symbol. 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.
According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, North Carolina is the largest producer of sweet potatoes in the nation, harvesting more than 700 million pounds of the vegetable in 2006, and thus providing more than 40% of the 1.6 billion pounds produced in the United States.
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.
In addition to the citations appearing for individual symbols, the preceding information was gathered from a number of sources, including:
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