The Robinson Library

The Robinson Library >> South Carolina
Official Symbols of South Carolina
spotted salamander

The spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) was designated the official AMPHIBIAN of South Carolina in 1999, after a campaign by the third grade class at Woodlands Heights Elementary School in Spartanburg.

white-tail deer

South Carolina designated the white-tailed deer (odocoileus virginianus) as the official state ANIMAL in 1972.


As of 1984, all but seven South Carolina counties had at least one dairy farm, which is why the General Assembly named milk the official state BEVERAGE that year.

Carolina wren

The Carolina wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) replaced the mockingbird as the official state BIRD in 1948.

tiger swallowtail

South Carolina designated the tiger swallowtail (Pterourus glaucus) as the official state BUTTERFLY in 1994.

The Carolina Shag was designated the official state DANCE in 1984. A form of Southern swing, shagging is said to have begun along the Grand Strand as early as the 1920's.
Boykin spaniel

South Carolina designated the Boykin spaniel as official state DOG in 1985. The breed was developed in the early 1900's by South Carolinian L. W. "Whit" Boykin, who trained a friend's stray, spaniel type dog, "Dumpy," to be a superior hunt dog and retriever. Dumpy subsequently became the father of the Boykin spaniel.

The wood duck (Aix sponsa), a year-round resident of South Carolina, was designated the official state DUCK in 2009.
striped bass

The striped bass (Morone saxatilis) was designated the official state FISH in 1972. South Carolina's Santee Cooper Lakes were the original home for the landlocked striped bass.

South Carolina flag

The state FLAG of South Carolina was adopted on January 28, 1861. The crescent symbol represents the silver emblem worn on the caps of South Carolina troops during the Revolutionary War, and the background color matches the blue of their uniforms. The flag also features the sabal palm, the state tree.

yellow jessamine

Yellow jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) was designated the official state FLOWER on March 14,1924. According to the enabling act, it was chosen because "its delicate flower suggests the pureness of gold; its perpetual return out of the dead winter suggests the lesson of constancy in, loyalty to, and patriotism in the service of the State."

South Carolina designated the square dance as its official FOLK DANCE in 1994.
Columbian mammoth

South Carolina designated the Columbian mammoth as the official state FOSSIL in 2014, prompted by a letter from 8-year-old Olivia McConnell of New Zion to her state legislator pointing out that the state had no official fossil. She suggested this particular animal because in 1725 slaves discovered a tooth from a Columbian mammoth on a South Carolina plantation.


South Carolina ranks second in fresh peach production in the United States (behind California and ahead of Georgia), which is why peaches were designated the official state FRUIT in 1984.

wild turkey

The wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) was designated the official state GAME BIRD in 1976.


Amethyst was designated the official state GEMSTONE on June 24, 1969. This designation followed the discovery of several world-class amethysts at the Ellis-Jones Mine near Due West, samples of which are on display at the American Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

Indian grass

South Carolina designated Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans) as the official state GRASS in 2001.

sweetgrass basket

Sweetgrass basket-making came to South Carolina in the 17th century by way of West Africans brought to America to work on plantations. The State Legislature recognized the tradition by making the sweetgrass basket the official HANDICRAFT in 2006.

marsh tacky

South Carolina designated the marsh tacky (Equus caballus) as the official state HORSE in 2010. Tracing its heritage back to stock that arrived with Spanish explorers, the marsh tacky has been in the state for over 400 years. Once thought extinct, DNA testing in 2005 proved the breed was still alive in coastal South Carolina.

iced tea

South Carolina-grown tea was designated the official state HOSPITALITY BEVERAGE in 1995. Tea was first brought to North America in 1799 by French botanist André Michaux, as a gift for future governor Henry Middleton, owner of Middleton Barony in Dorchester County. The plant was originally grown solely as an ornamental and its leaves were never brewed. Since then, however, the coastal region of South Carolina has proven to be ideal for harvesting tea, and an island just south of Charleston is home to the only teagarden in America.

Carolina mantid

South Carolina designated the Carolina mantid (Stagmomantis carolina) as the official state INSECT in 1988 as a symbol of the science of entomology and its special role in agriculture controlling harmful insects.

South Carolina Mace

Made for the Commons House of Assembly in 1756, the South Carolina MACE is the oldest, continuously used one by any U.S. state legislature. At almost 4' long and weighing over 10 pounds, the mace stands for the authority of the South Carolina House of Representatives.

bottle-nosed dolphin

The bottle-nosed dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) was designated the official state MARINE MAMMAL in 2009.

northern right whale

The northern right whale (Eubalaena glacialis glacialis) was designated the official state MIGRATORY MARINE ANIMAL in 2009.

South Carolina has two state MOTTOS, both of which were first used in 1777 when the state seal had two sides. On the front of this seal was "Animis Opibusque Parati," which is Latin for "Prepared in Mind and Resources," and the back had "Dum Spiro Spero," which is Latin for "While I Breathe, I Hope." The spiritual was passed down orally for many years and first committed to writing in South Carolina on St. Helena Island by a freed black woman and a white Union Army officer during the Civil War. The publication of an 1867 book on slave songs was the result of the work done by an educational mission on the Port Royal islands in 1861. South Carolina made the spiritual its official state MUSIC in 1999.
Charleston native DuBose Heyward wrote the novel Porgy, featuring the fictional Catfish Row and its Gullah residents in 1925. George Gershwin turned the novel into the opera Porgy and Bess in 1935, and the opera was designated the official state OPERA in 2001. Penned by Mrs. John R. Carson in 1950, "I salute the flag of South Carolina and pledge to the Palmetto State love, loyalty and faith." was officially designated the state PLEDGE in 1966.
The official NICKNAME for South Carolina is The Palmetto State, referring to the state tree (the sabal palmetto). Beach music, which originated around the time of the second World War and has come to be regarded as synonymous with the official state dance, the Carolina shag, was designated the official state POPULAR MUSIC in 2001.
loggerhead sea turtle

Thanks to a fifth-grade class from Ninety-Six in Greenwood County, the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) was designated the official state REPTILE in 1988.

state seal

The state SEAL was first used in 1777, although it was two sided at that time. Eventually the two sides were combined so that they fit next to each other on a one-sided seal. The left oval was originally the front of the seal, and has Animis Opibusque Parati. The palmetto tree represents a battle victory against the British at present-day Fort Moultrie during the Revolutionary War. The right oval was originally the reverse side of the seal, and it has Dum Spiro Spero. The woman pictured is Spes, the Roman goddess of hope.

lettered olive

South Carolina designated the lettered olive (Oliva sayana) as the official state SHELL in 1984. The shell was found and named by Dr. Edmund Ravenel of Charleston, South Carolina.

boiled peanuts

The boiled peanut was designated the official state SNACK FOOD in 2006.

South Carolina has two official state SONGS. Acting on the memorial of the South Carolina Daughters of the American Revolution that the patriotic song "Carolina," written by South Carolina poet Henry Timrod and set to music by Anne Custis Burgess, was designated on February 11, 1911. "South Carolina on My Mind," written and recorded by Hank Martin and Buzz Arledge, both native South Carolinians, was designated in 1984. Barbecue was designated the official state SOUTHERN PICNIC CUISINE in 2014.
Carolina wolf spider

South Carolina designated the Carolina wolf spider (Hogna carolinensis) as the official state SPIDER in 2000, due to the efforts of Skyler B. Hutto, a third grade student at Sheridan Elementary School in Orangeburg.

blue granite sidewalk in Charleston

South Carolina is one of the largest producers of granite in the United States. Blue granite is unique to the Midlands and the Piedmont region of the state, and was designated the official state STONE in 1969.

From the Mountains to the Sea

South Carolina designated "From the Mountains to the Sea"  as the official state TAPESTRY in 2000. The tapestry was made from 100% cotton and represents all areas of South Carolina. It is displayed at the South Carolina Cotton Museum in Bishopville, South Carolina.

Carolina tartan

The Carolina TARTAN is based on a fragment of a coat of the Royal Company of Archers dated c.1730, believed to be the same sett as was used for the wedding ribbons of Charles II in 1661. (The Carolina colonies were named for King Charles).

sabal palmetto

South Carolina designated the sabal palmetto (Inodes palmetto) as the official state TREE in 1939. The palmetto symbolizes the defeat of the British fleet at Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island, which was constructed of palmetto logs that were able to absorb the impact of cannon balls.

collard greens

South Carolina designated collard greens (Brassica oleracea) as the official state VEGETABLE in 2011, as a result of efforts made by Mary Grace Wingard, a third-grader from Lexington, South Carolina. South Carolina ranks second in the nation, and Lexington County ranks first among the counties of South Carolina, in collard green production.

tall goldenrod

Tall goldenrod (Solidago altissima) became South Carolina's state WILDFLOWER in 2003, championed by garden clubs after it was determined their first choice, Queen Anne's Lace, is not native to the state.



South Carolina's Information Highway
State Symbols USA

See Also

White-Tailed Deer
Bottle-Nosed Dolphin
George Gershwin
Revolutionary War

Questions or comments about this page?

The Robinson Library >> South Carolina

This page was last updated on September 29, 2018.