Bear, or Ursus americanus, is actually deeply
tinted with brown. Its habitat in West Virginia is primarily in
the eastern mountain region. The black bear still roams freely
throughout 36 states and Canada. Either one or two cubs, rarely
three, are born at a time, weighing about eight ounces each. The
adult reaches an average maximum weight of 250 pounds.
was made West Virginia’s official bird by concurrent resolution
of the 1949 Legislature. The male of the species is a rich scarlet
with a mask and shading of black, while the young birds and
females are a less brilliant color. The cardinal measures
approximately eight inches long and is found from New York state
to the Gulf of Mexico and as far west as Oklahoma. Its scientific
name is Cardinalis cardinalis.
Butterfly was designated West Virginia's official state
butterfly on March 1, 1995 by the Legislature, after declaration
by Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 11. The orange and black
insect dines on milkweed as a caterpillar, sips nectar from
flowers as a butterfly and, at summer's end, migrates south to
Mexico. The butterflies that you see in the spring are the great
grandchildren of the ones that lived in Mexico during the winter.
Trout, a native of West Virginia waters, is perhaps the
most sought after trout. It puts up an excellent fight for its
size. Not being able to withstand higher temperatures, it does
best in small, cold, spring-fed streams. The brook trout is olive
with lighter sides and a reddish belly (in males) and easily
identified by the light colored edges of the lower fins. Its
hatchery growth averages six to eight inches in length soon after
By Senate Joint
Resolution Number 18, approved by the Legislature March 7, 1929,
West Virginia adopted the present State Flag. The resolution in
part is a s follow: "That the Legislature of West Virginia
hereby adopts a State Flag of the following design and
The proportions of
the flag of the State of West Virginia shall be the same as those
of the United States ensign; the field shall be pure white, upon
the center of which shall be emblazoned in proper colors, the
coat-of arms of the State of West Virginia upon which appears the
date of the admission of the State into the Union, also with the
motto, ‘Montani Semper Liberi’ (Mountaineers Are Always Free).
Above the coat-of-arms of the State of West Virginia there shall
be a ribbon lettered, ‘State of West Virginia,’ and arranged
appropriately around the lower part of the coat-of-arms of the
State of West Virginia a wreath of Rhododendron maximum in
proper colors. The field of pure white shall be bordered by a
strip of blue on four sides. The flag of the State of West
Virginia when used for parade purposes shall be trimmed with gold
colored fringe on three sides and when used on ceremonial
occasions with the United States ensign, shall be trimmed and
mounted in similar fashion to the United States flag as regards
fringe, cord, tassels, and mounting."
maximum, or "big laurel," is the state
flower of West Virginia. It was selected on January 23, 1903, by
the Legislature, following a vote by pupils of the public schools.
It is a shrub of the heath family and may be recognized by its
large dark evergreen leaves and delicate pale pink or white bloom,
mottled with either red or yellow flecks.
Delicious Apple. Designated as the official State Fruit
by Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 7, adopted by the Legislature
on February 20, 1995. This apple variety was discovered by
Anderson Mullins in Clay County, W. Va. in 1905. The plain apple
had been previously designated as the official State Fruit by
House Concurrent Resolution No. 56, adopted March 7, 1972.
The Sugar Maple, or Acer
saccarum as it is known scientifically, was made West
Virginia's official tree by a resolution of the 1949 Legislature.
It's wood is excellent for furniture and it produces maple syrup.
A single tree is 70-120 feet high and produces two to three pounds
of sugar when "sugared-off." It has a five-lobed leaf
and a small wing-shaped seed pod. In the fall the leaves turn
Joseph H. Diss
Debar, an artist from Doddridge County, was chosen by a committee
of the Legislature to prepare drawings for an official seal for
the state of West Virginia. The artist submitted his drawings with
an explanation of each detail and from these was adopted, by the
Legislature, a seal which has remained without change, the
Official Seal of West Virginia. The seal contains the Latin motto,
Montani Semper Liberi, which means "Mountaineers Are
Always Free." A large stone in the center of the seal stands
for strength. On the stone is the date on which the State was
admitted to the Union, June 20, 1863. The farmer with his axe
represents agriculture and the miner with his pick represents
industry. In front of the rock are two rifles, crossed and
surmounted at the place of contact by the Phrygian cap, or cap of
liberty, indicating that freedom and liberty were won and will be
maintained by the force of arms. While the seal was designed and
adopted with two sides, only the front side is in common use.
The reverse side of
laurel and oak leaves, log house, hills, factories and boats is
the Governor’s Official Seal. The Constitution
of West Virginia, Article 2, Section 7, provides that: "The
present seal of the state, with its motto ‘Montani Semper Liberi,’
shall be the great seal of the state of West Virginia, and shall
be kept by the secretary of state, to be used by him, officially
as directed by law."
The West Virginia
Hills, words and music by Ellen King and H.E. Engle; This is My
West Virginia, by Iris Bell; and West Virginia, My Home Sweet Home
by Julian G. Hearne, Jr. Adopted by the Legislature as official
songs February 28, 1963.
June 20th. West
Virginia was proclaimed a state in 1863. "West Virginia
Day" became a legal holiday by Chapter 59, Acts of the
Legislature, Regular Session, 1927.
The State Gem is
technically not a gemstone, but rather the silicified
Mississippian Fossil Coral, Lithostrotionella,
preserved as the siliceous mineral chalcedony. Designated by House
Concurrent Resolution No. 39, March 10, 1990. It is found in the
Hillsdale Limestone in portions of Greenbrier and Pocahontas
counties and is often cut and polished for jewelry and for
The State Soil is Monongahela
Silt Loam, adopted by concurrent resolution in 1997,
making West Virginia the twelfth state to have an official state
Old Gold and
Blue were designated as Official State Colors by Senate
Concurrent Resolution No. 20, adopted by the Legislature on March