Symbols of Ohio
Since the early 19th Century, Ohio's lawmakers have identified several symbols to represent the state. Whether a song, animal or plant life, or a beverage, these symbols represent Ohio and serve to unify Ohioans living in all corners of the Buckeye State. The official state symbols are listed below in order of adoption.
The Seal of Ohio
Adopted: Early 1800s
The state of Ohio has had an official seal for more than 150 years. Over that time period, the Ohio government has made several modifications to the seal. The current state seal was adopted by the state legislature in 1967, and most recently modified in 1996.
The seal illustrates Ohio’s diverse geography. In the background stands Mount Logan, in Ross County. Separating Mount Logan from the rest of the seal is the Scioto River. In the freshly harvested wheat field stands a wheat bushel, illustrating Ohio’s important contributions to agriculture. Next to the wheat bushel stands 17 arrows, representing Ohio’s place as the 17th state in the Union. The sun has 13 rays protruding outward, representing the original 13 colonies.
Early versions of the seal included a canal boat, but the modern-day version removed this item. The idea for the Ohio seal originated during the early 1800s. It was thought to be based on the eastern view from Thomas Worthington’s home, Adena, located near modern-day Chillicothe. Worthington was Ohio’s first United States senator and also served as the sixth governor of the state. Today, Adena is a museum.
The Flag of Ohio
Adopted: Early 1902
Ohio’s official flag was adopted by an act of the Ohio Legislature on May 9, 1902. The Ohio burgee (bûr’je), as the swallow-tailed design is properly called, was drawn by John Eisenmann, architect and designer for the Ohio State Pan-American Exposition Commission.
The State Flower: Red Carnation
Ohio adopted its official state flower, the red carnation, in 1904. The state Legislature chose the red carnation to honor President William McKinley, an Ohioan, who was assassinated in 1901. McKinley liked to wear red carnations stuck in his buttonhole on the lapel of his jacket.
Alliance, Ohio is known as "Carnation City."
The State Bird: Cardinal
In 1933, the Ohio General Assembly made the cardinal Ohio's state bird. The cardinal's scientific name is Cardinalis cardinalis. When Europeans first arrived in Ohio in the late 1600s, Ohio was 95 percent forest and cardinals were rare to the area. As forests were cleared, the habitat became more suitable for cardinals. By the late 1800s, cardinals had expanded into the modified habitat of Ohio and could be found across the state.
The State Tree: The Ohio Buckeye
In 1953, the Ohio Legislature designated the Ohio Buckeye, Aesculus glabra, as Ohio’s official state tree. The tree is called the buckeye because its nuts resemble the shape and color of a deer’s eye. The buckeye is relatively common in Ohio, growing especially well along rivers and streams and in floodplains.
The buckeye tree has also provided Ohioans with their principal nickname—the Buckeyes. Ohioans have referred to themselves as Buckeyes since at least the election of 1840, when Ohio resident William Henry Harrison won the presidency. Harrison’s supporters carved campaign souvenirs out of buckeye wood to illustrate their support for their fellow Ohioan.
The buckeye has become better known as The Ohio State University’s nickname, personified through their mascot “Brutus the Buckeye.”
The State Motto: With God, All Things Are Possible
During the early 1950s, the Ohio Legislature sponsored a contest to select a state motto. “With God All Things Are Possible” became Ohio’s state motto on October 1, 1959. James Mastronardo, a 12-year-old boy, recommended this quotation from the Bible.
In 1997, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a suit against Ohio and its state motto, claiming that this phrase violated the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guarantees religious freedom and a separation of church and state. Various federal courts sided with Ohio, allowing the state to retain the motto. Judges ruled that Ohio’s motto does not endorse a specific god and, thus, was not a violation of the First Amendment. Ohio is one of five states with the word “God”in their mottos.
The State Gemstone: Ohio Flint
In 1965, the Ohio General Assembly adopted flint as Ohio’s official gemstone. Large quantities of this gem exist, especially in the eastern and central parts of the state.
Flint, a specialized variety of microcrystalline quartz, is a hard and durable mineral. Both prehistoric and historic natives used flint to make tools, weapons, and ceremonial pieces. Flint Ridge, in Licking and Muskingum counties, was a major source of flint for Ohio’s Indians. The Hopewell Indians traded flint with other native people across the United States. Archaeologists have discovered artifacts made from Flint Ridge flint as far away as the Rocky Mountains and the Gulf of Mexico.
Today, artists use flint to make attractive pieces of jewelry. The gem’s surfaces will take a high polish.
For more information on Flint, read Flint: Ohio's Official Gemstone (PDF), issued by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Geological Survey.
The State Beverage: Tomato Juice
In 1965, the Ohio General Assembly made tomato juice Ohio’s official beverage. In 1870, Reynoldsburg resident Alexander Livingston began to grow tomatoes commercially. The annual Tomato Festival honors Livingston and the tomato’s importance to Ohio’s economy.
While farmers grow tomatoes across Ohio, the heaviest concentration of tomato farming takes place in the northwestern quadrant of the state.
The State Song: Beautiful Ohio
In 1969, the Ohio Legislature adopted “Beautiful Ohio” as Ohio’s state song. Mary Earl, whose real name was Robert A. King, composed the music in 1918, while Ballard MacDonald wrote the original lyrics.
In 1989, with the permission of the Ohio Legislature, Wilbert B. McBride altered the lyrics.Beautiful Ohio
I sailed away; Wandered afar;
Crossed the mighty restless sea;
Looked for where I ought to be.
Cities so grand, mountains above,
Led to this land I love.
Beautiful Ohio, where the golden grain
Dwarf the lovely flowers in the summer rain.
Cities rising high, silhouette the sky.
Freedom is supreme in this majestic land;
Mighty factories seem to hum in tune, so grand.
Beautiful Ohio, thy wonders are in view,
Land where my dreams all come true!
The State Insect: Ladybug
In 1975, the Ohio government selected the ladybug (ladybird beetle), Coccinellidae, as Ohio’s official insect. There are many different species of ladybird beetles found in Ohio today. According to the Ohio General Assembly’s resolution, the ladybug:
“Is symbolic of the people of Ohio—she is proud and friendly, bringing delight to millions of children when she alights on their hand or arm to display her multi-colored wings, and she is extremely industrious and hardy, able to live under the most adverse conditions and yet retain her beauty and charm, while at the same time being of inestimable value to nature.”
Ladybugs exist in all of Ohio’s 88 counties and are ferocious predators, eating small pests such as aphids, greatly assisting Ohio’s farmers and gardeners by reducing the need for insecticides.
The State Fossil: Isotelus
In 1985, Ohio made Isotelus the state's official fossil. Isotelus is a trilobite that existed between 430 and 480 million years ago. At that time, an ocean covered much of what is now Ohio. A trilobite was an invertebrate marine creature having a hard outer shell or skeleton. Two lines crossed the body of the trilobite, making it appear to be in three parts. Trilobite means “three-lobed creature.” Isotelus primarily lived during the Ordovician Age and was one of the largest trilobites, with some of them reaching more than two feet in length.
The State Rock Song: Hang On Sloopy
“Hang on Sloopy” is a rock song, recorded by the McCoys, a band from Dayton.
In October 1965, the song hit Number 1 on the American charts. Bert Berns and Wes Farrell co-wrote the song, using a singer from Steubenville, Dorothy Sloop (who performed under the stage name Sloopy) as inspiration.
“Hang on Sloopy” became tied with The Ohio State University after its marching band began playing it at football games. Today, the OSU marching band plays the song before the start of the fourth quarter of every Buckeye game.
In 1985, the General Assembly passed a resolution making “Hang on Sloopy” Ohio’s official rock song. Ohio was the first state to
The State Wild Flower: White Trillium
In 1986, the Ohio General Assembly made the white trillium Ohio’s official wildflower. The white trillium is also known as the wake robin, the snow trillium, the great white trillium, or the large white trillium. The General Assembly selected this flower because it exists in all of Ohio’s 88 counties.
The State Mammal: White-Tailed Deer
In 1988, the General Assembly made the white-tailed deer Ohio’s state mammal. The white-tailed deer, Odocoileus virginianus, has been extremely important in Ohio’s history. White-tailed deer have been in Ohio since the end of the last Ice Age. Ohio’s native people used the deer’s meat for food, the hide for clothing and the bones and antlers for tools. Indians also used the hides, antlers and bones for ceremonial purposes. Archaeologists have found deer antlers sheathed in copper at a prehistoric site, and Hopewell craftspeople made shaman characters wearing deer antlers.
Europeans considered deer hide to be very valuable. They used deerskins in barter and trade with the Indians and with other Europeans. The slang term “buck,” referring to a dollar, dates to this time when deerskins (commonly called buckskins) were used to trade and barter for supplies. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources estimates there are 600,000 white-tailed deer in Ohio.
The State Reptile: Black Racer Snake
In 1995, the Ohio Legislature made the black racer Ohio’s official reptile due to the snake’s prevalence in the state. The black racer’s scientific name is Coluber constrictor, and is non-poisonous. This reptile provides valuable assistance to Ohio’s farmers by killing various types of rodents that can cause damage to the farmers’ crops.
The State Bicentennial Bridge: The Blaine Hill Bridge
The Blaine Hill Bridge, spanning the Wheeling Creek in Belmont County, is Ohio’s oldest sandstone bridge. Built in 1828 as part of the National Road project, the 345-foot long bridge is considered one of the most historically and architecturally significant structures in Ohio. After being closed to traffic in 1994, the bridge underwent reconstruction and is now an historical site. The bridge received the state symbol honor in 2002.
The State Prehistoric Monument: The Newark Earthworks
The Newark Earthworks were the largest set of geometric earthen enclosures in the world. Built by prehistoric Hopewell people between 100 BC and AD 500, this architectural wonder of ancient America was part cathedral, part cemetery and part astronomical observatory. The Earthworks originally covered more than four square miles, and more than seven million cubic feet of earth were used in their construction.
The 2006 designation of the Newark Earthworks as Ohio’s state prehistoric monument honors the ancient American Indian builders of this incredible site. The Newark Earthworks are also recognized as a National Historic Landmark.
The State Fruit: Tomato
Before Ohioan Alexander W. Livingston developed the Paragon Tomato in 1870, most Americans thought of tomatoes as small fruits with a bitter taste. The Paragon was larger and sweeter, leading Livingston to develop more than 30 other varieties of tomatoes. Livingston’s work, along with that of other Ohioans boosted the popularity of the tomato with American gardeners, cooks and diners. Today, Ohio farmers harvest more than 6,000 acres of tomatoes, with the heaviest concentration of tomato farming occurring in the northwestern quarter of the state. Ohio is the nation’s third-largest producer of tomatoes. The tomato (Lycopersicon esculentus) became the official state fruit in 2009.
The State Native Fruit: Pawpaw
In the past 20 years, a little-known fruit called the pawpaw has experienced a resurgence, with many Ohioans growing, selling and eating their own pawpaws. The pawpaw (Asimina triloba) is North America's largest native tree fruit and its trees are found throughout all of Ohio. According to fossil records, the papaw’s forebears were established in North America millions of years before the arrival of humans. American Indians extensively used the pawpaw and introduced it to European explorers. The pawpaw has more protein than most other fruits, with a flavor somewhat similar to both banana and mango, which varies depending on cultivar. An annual festival in Athens County is devoted to the pawpaw, which was named the state native fruit in 2009.
The State Amphibian: Spotted Salamander
Even though they live mostly underground, the spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) is Ohio's official state amphibian.
State lawmakers declared the salamander's status as the state amphibian in 2010. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources reports salamanders are found anywhere in Ohio where there are low-lying moist woodlands adjacent to swamps, ponds and creeks. The salamander has a nocturnal nature and tunnels underground, mostly being seen above the surface in early spring to migrate to breeding ponds. The spotted salamander is described as having a chunky body with two rows of bright yellow or gold spots on its sides.
The State Frog: Bullfrog
In 2010, Ohio lawmakers made the bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) the official state frog. The bullfrog, which is the largest frog in North America has a deep, resonating call that can be heard up to a mile away. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the bullfrog resides in ponds, marshes and large, slow-moving streams throughout Ohio from late April through late summer.
Bullfrogs are found throughout Ohio. The life expectancy of the bullfrog is between seven and nine years. Adult bullfrogs are sometimes hunted for their legs, which are sometimes served in upscale restaurants.
The State Artifact: The Adena Pipe
The Adena Pipe, a 2,000-year-old relic found near Chillicothe, was named Ohio’s State Artifact in 2013. The effigy pipe, which was linked to the Adena culture, was found in a burial mound in 1901. The pipe is made of Ohio pipestone. According to the Ohio Historical Society, the Adena Pipe is unique because it is tubular and formed in the image of a person. However, it is uncertain if the figure is modeled after an Adena man or a mythological being.