Alabama has interesting state symbols

Published 7:30 am Saturday, May 28, 2022

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What is Alabama’s state flower? If the humble, persistent goldenrod popped in your mind, you are mistaken just as I was on first thought. Then I remembered that although my grammar school classmates and I were taught the prolific goldenrod held that title, it was replaced in 1957 by the more sophisticated camellia.

I don’t know why that occurred, since in my humble opinion the goldenrod raced all over, lining the winding sides of the roads we traveled to reach our little country school. The goldenrod seems more appropriate. To this day, you can spot it everywhere, chasing each other profusely in the woods, with heads waving high in the wind.

Now that we have explored that, did you know there is a state dance symbol? That is not hard to answer. It is the Square Dance, of course.

How about a state fossil symbol? Yes, Alabama has one of those—the Basilosaurus found its way on the state symbol list more than 20 years ago. It represents a primitive whale from which fossilized bones were found in several of our counties.

If asked what the state bird is, I think most would answer right away that it is the yellowhammer. Maybe you heard the story that the name originated during the Civil War when a company of Alabama soldiers paraded in uniforms trimmed in yellow. That bright spot of yellow under the wings of the yellowhammer bird was the inspiration.

Alabama has two state fish, the tarpon, which was first designated as the state fish, but is now the saltwater fish. The largemouth bass is the state freshwater fish.

Alabama’s game bird is the wild turkey, which is no surprise to me. I was probably ignorant of this until I started work at The Andalusia Star-News in the 1970s, but would have been surprised at any other designation after that. Photos of proud hunters with their catch of wild turkeys occupied a lot of space in the newspaper during turkey hunting season. I remember making many of those photos.

Alabama’s state song? But of course, “Alabama,” which every student learned and sang at school in my day.

Our state tree is the Southern Pine. Our state mineral is red iron ore. It is easy to understand why those pines were selected, but if you are not a native, you might find it enlightening to research the iron and steel industry in this state and the part iron ore played in it. A visit to Tannehill Historic State Park Museum in McCalla is a good place to begin.

Other symbols are the state rock, which is marble, the state nut pecan, the state horse, the racking horse, and the state reptile, the red-bellied turtle.

Maybe your curiosity has been aroused about the Legislature’s selection of these symbols. You might want to explore this subject a little more for yourself.