State Symbols

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State Symbols

  • State Animal
California’s state animal is a grizzly bear. The grizzly bear is a powerful carnivore that once lived in the valleys of California. When the gold rush began grizzly bears refused to hide when swarms of people came to California and caused great trouble to the settlers who came to California. Every grizzly bear was tracked and killed, but it officially became the state animal of California in 1953.
  • State Flag
The Bear Flag was first raised by a group of men in Sonoma, a town in California, on June 14, 1846. These men wanted California to become a republic or an independent nation. Sadly, they did not succeed, but the flag they hastily drew was adopted as state flag. The original flag was destroyed in the fires of San Francisco.
  • State Flower
Our state flower is the golden poppy. One hundred years ago the members of the California State Floral Society voted for a flower that would serve as the official state emblem. There were three flowers that they had to choose from the California poppy, the Mariposa lily, and the Matilija poppy. The Mariposa lily got a small three votes and the Matilija poppy got no votes. As you can see the California poppy won!
  • State Tree
The state tree is the California redwood and Giant Sequoia. In the mid 1930’s people began to take interest in naming the official state tree of California. The state Legislature named the native redwood the state tree in April 3, 1937. People got confused because there were two native redwoods, so in 1951 California's Attorney General named both trees the official state tree.
  • State Song
The California State Song is called “I Love You, California” was written by Francis Bernard Silverwood in 1913. The music was composed by Abraham Franklin Frankenstein. The song became famous. It was declared the official song of expositions held in San Francisco and San Diego in 1915. On April 26, 1951, the California Legislature made a resolution saying that “I Love You, California was the official state song. Some legislature tried to replace “I Love You, California” with other songs, but in 1988 the state song was put into law.

The chorus of the song goes like this-

Where the snow crowned Golden Sierras
Keep their watch o'er the valleys bloom,
It is there I would be in our land by the sea,
Every breeze bearing rich perfume.
It is here nature gives of her rarest.
It is Home Sweet Home to me,
And I know when I die I shall breathe my last sigh
For my sunny California.

(Jessica April 23, 2008)


  • State Bird
The California Valley Quail was adopted June 12, 1931. Known for its hardiness and adaptation, it was the most hunted bird at that time. Less than three months after a new bill was read, the choice was forwarded to the Senate, which was sent to the governor, Governor James Rolph, Jr., for approval.
  • Color
The colors are blue and gold. They were originally the University of Berkeley’s school colors, but the governor chose it anyway. It was adopted on June 28, 1951. Blue was chosen because it was popular. Gold was a thought since California’s nickname was the “Golden State.” Frank M. Jordan was the man who suggested the colors, so we should give most of the credit to him.
  • Fish
The California Golden Trout was elected on April 11, 1947. It is also the pisifaunal emblem of California. Sadly, the fish is endangered because its habitat was destroyed and changed, so that it looked very, very different from the original living place.
  • Mineral
The state mineral is gold! Adopted in April 20, 1965, the gold rush and the nickname (the “Golden State”) helped officials decide. The mineral is also native to the state. Serpentine, another mineral, confused governors, but gold was more favored, so they chose that.
  • Reptile
The desert tortoise is the California state reptile. It is very patient, moving 20 feet per minute. Although it is an endangered species, the slow animal played a very important role in the Desert Protection Act of 1994. That time, the desert was very scarce, so many, many acres of land had been added to them. Someone brought the desert tortoise, and that’s how it became state reptile.

(Ellen April 25, 2008)

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