North Carolina natives know the cardinal is the state bird and the dogwood is the state flower.
But some official state symbols may have slipped your mind since grade school, and perhaps you’ve never heard of others.
In that case, the State Library of North Carolina has you covered. Its online database NCpedia is a treasure trove of information on The Old North State – which happens to be the name of both the official state toast and the state song.
The toast (also known as “The Tar Heel Toast”) begins, “Here’s to the land of the long leaf pine” – a reference to what many were taught to be the state tree of North Carolina.
▪ The actual state tree is the pine, without any of the state’s eight native pine species attached. The longleaf misconception probably was fueled by the toast lyrics, according to historical records.
▪ And a reminder: The state motto is “Esse Quam Videri” which means “To be rather than to seem.”
▪ The state butterfly can also confuse, because the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is often mistaken for a Monarch.
▪ North Carolina has an official art medium, and it can be found by looking down across much of the state. Legislation naming clay the official art medium cited its importance to the state's cultural, social and economic prosperity.
▪ The art medium became official in 2013 along with the state fossil (Megalodon shark), state frog (Pine Barrens tree frog), state salamander (marbled), state marsupial (borrowed from Virginia, the opossum), and state folk art (Vollis Simpson’s whirligigs in Lucama).
▪ It makes sense that North Carolina has an official state Christmas tree, given that it produces more than 20 percent of the real Christmas trees in the United States, according to the N.C. Christmas Tree Association. The Fraser fir makes up nearly all of the Christmas trees grown in North Carolina.
▪ North Carolina has official colors: red and blue.
▪ The state dog isn’t one of the nation’s most popular breeds. But the Plott hound is the only recognized breed developed in North Carolina, and one of just four breeds native to the United States.
▪ It took some convincing to make the Scotch bonnet the official state shell, after the state representative who nominated the shell had a hard time finding many of them to give to his fellow lawmakers.
▪ Stock car racing became the official state sport in 2011.
North Carolina also has several official festivals:
▪ The official food festival of the North Carolina Piedmont Triad is the Lexington Barbecue Festival.
▪ The state peanut festival is the Dublin Peanut Festival.
▪ There’s a state mullet festival, but it doesn’t celebrate a haircut. The Swansboro Mullet Festival began when mullet fisherman held a fish fry in 1954 in honor of a new bridge in the Onslow County town.
▪ North Carolina has both northeastern and southeastern state watermelon festivals – the Hertford County Watermelon Festival and the Fair Bluff Watermelon Festival.