Ohio Facts: State Symbols (2024)

Since the early 19th century, Ohio lawmakers have identified several symbols to represent the state.

State Flag

The Ohio Burgee

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Ohio’s state flag is called the Ohio burgee and was designed by John Eisenmann in 1901. It was adopted as the state flag in 1902. It has a unique swallow-tail design and includes a large, blue, triangular field with seventeen white stars. At the center of the field is a red circle with a wide white border. The flag also includes five stripes, three red and two white. The flag’s design is described in Ohio Revised Code, Section 5.01. Its display and maintenance requirements are described in Ohio Revised Code, Section 5.012. Further information about the flag is available from the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.

Coat of Arms and State Seal

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Ohio’s coat of arms depicts a sunrise over mountains, a river, and a field. The inspiration for the scene is Mount Logan and the Scioto River in Ross County. The foreground of the scene is a cultivated field with a standing sheaf of wheat on the left and a similarly shaped sheaf of arrows on the right. The design of the coat of arms is described in Ohio Revised Code, Section 5.04.

Ohio’s official seal consists of the coat of arms within a circle with the words THE GREAT SEAL OF THE STATE OF OHIO. The current design of the coat of arms and seal was adopted in 1996. Versions of the seal are approved for statewide elected officials, the supreme court, and certain agencies and organizations. Other uses of the seal can be approved by the Governor’s office upon request. The design and use of the Great Seal of the State of Ohio is defined in Ohio Revised Code, section 5.10.

State Motto

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“With God All Things Are Possible.”

Ohio’s state motto was recommended in 1958 by James Mastronardo, a 10-year-old Cincinnati resident. With the support of his state senator, Mastronardo collected petition signatures and testified before the legislature in favor of adding a state motto. The phrase was a favorite of his mother and comes from the Bible, Matthew 19:26. It became Ohio’s official motto in October, 1959. Its use as a state motto is not intended to endorse a specific deity, but instead stands as a generic expression of optimism.

State Slogan

"Ohio, The Heart of it All."

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Ohio's officialslogan is "Ohio, The Heart of it All." It is the official advertising and marketing tagline for Ohio Tourism to attract visitors to the state. Itis also used by state agencies, boards, and commissions to promote Ohio as a great place tolive, learn, work, and raise a family.

State Capital and Capitol Building

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Ohio’s capital city is Columbus, located in Franklin county in the central part of the state.

The capitol building, known as the Ohio Statehouse,is located in the city’s heart and features an iconic rotunda. The statehouse has hearing rooms and chambers for the Ohio Senate and the Ohio House of Representatives. The attached Senate Building has additional hearing rooms andofficesfor Ohio's senators. The Statehouse features a spacious atriumused for public and rental eventsand the Statehouse gift shop.

State Nickname

The Buckeye State

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The term buckeyehas widely been used to describe residents of Ohio since the mid-1800s. It is an obvious reference to the buckeye tree and its use reportedly became popular when supporters of William Henry Harrison's presidential campaign carved souvenirs out of buckeye wood. The word buckeye appears in the names of many geographic areas of the state including the community of Buckeye in Jackson County, Buckeye Lake in Fairfield and Licking Counties, and the Buckeye Trail, which is a hiking route that loops around the state. Buckeye is used in the names of many Ohio-based companies and organizations, and it is the official mascot of The Ohio State University.

State-Declared Holidays and Observances

The Ohio Legislature may declare awareness days, weeks, and months to draw attention to people, events, and causes of special interest. These observances are noted along with Ohio’s state symbols in Ohio Revised Code, Chapter 5.

State Animals

Bird: Cardinal

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Adopted: 1933

The cardinal is a small, non-migratory songbird common throughout the state. Cardinals have a distinctive orange beak and a sharp crest of feathers on the top of their heads. Male cardinals have distinctive, bright red feathers and a black mask around their faces. Female cardinals are brown and gray with red-orange accents in their wings, tails, and head crests. They feed on fruits, seeds, and insects. Cardinals mate for life and are highly territorial.

Insect: Ladybug

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Adopted: 1975

The ladybug, or ladybird beetle, is a small, shiny, red and black insect that is active from spring until fall in Ohio. They are harmless to humans, but valued by farmers and gardeners because they prey on aphids and other plant-eating pests. The most familiar ladybug is the seven-spotted bug, featuring a red body with three black dots on each side and one in the middle. Their distinctive coloring and foul taste protect them from predators.

Mammal: White-Tailed Deer

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Adopted: 1988

White-tailed deer have lived in Ohio since the last Ice Age. They are a medium-sized deer with a grey-brown coat. When alarmed, the deer raises its tail, revealing the white fur on the underside that gives the species its name. Ohio’s native peoples used white-tailed deer for meat, clothing, and tools. Early settlers traded deerskins for supplies, a practice that led to the slang term of “buck” to refer to money. White-tailed deer are foragers, eating mostly woody plants, grasses, nuts, berries, wildflowers, and cultivated crops. This diet means that they are frequently found where human communities and wild forests meet.

Reptile: Black Racer Snake

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Adopted: 1995

The black racer snake is found primarily in Ohio’s eastern and southern regions. It is black with no markings and can reach an average length of three to five feet. It is valued by farmers and gardeners because it preys on rodents and other small animals that can damage crops. As its name suggests, it is fast. It can move at speeds around 10 miles per hour. It can be aggressive and will attack humans if threatened. However, its bite, though painful, is not poisonous.

Amphibian: Spotted Salamander

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Adopted: 2010

Spotted salamanders are common in Ohio’s moist woodlands, near swamps, ponds, and creeks. If you see one, consider yourself lucky. They are nocturnal burrowers that spend most of their lives underground. They grow to an average body length of 6-7.75 inches and eat large insects, earthworms, amphibians, and small mice. Spotted salamanders can live up to 20 years.

Frog: American Bullfrog

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Adopted: 2010

The largest frog in North America, the bullfrog is known for its deep call that can be heard up to a mile away. It is common in ponds, marshes, and slow-moving streams, and can be seen and heard from late April through summer. They are found around the state and can live from 7-9 years, on average. They are typically green with brown markings and range in length from 3.5 to 6 inches. They are typically solitary and territorial and feed on crayfish, insects, mice, and other frogs.

Pet: Shelter Pet

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Adopted: 2019

The Ohio Legislature named the shelter pet as Ohio’s official state pet to raise awareness of the high numbers of cats and dogs waiting for homes at animal shelters around the state. About 6.5 million animals are taken to shelters across the nation, and only about half are adopted. Contact your local animal shelter or humane society to learn how to adopt a pet in your community.

State Plant Life

Flower: Red Carnation

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Adopted: 1904

The carnation is a perennial plant that can grow to about 2.5 feet tall with grey-green or bluish-green stems and serrated leaves. The plant produces a flower that ranges from 1.25 to 2 inches in diameter. The flower’s petals are fringed and have a spicy fragrance, making them a favorite in the floral industry. The red carnation is thought to symbolize love and passion. It was a favorite of Ohio-born president William McKinley, who often wore one on his jacket. The red carnation was named the state flower in his honor after his assassination.

Tree: Ohio Buckeye

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Adopted: 1953

The buckeye tree is native to North America. In late summer and early fall, the trees bear fruit that contain a large nut. The nut gives the tree its name because it is dark brown with a light spot, resembling the shape and color of a deer's eye. The nut also lends its name to a popular confection. Chocolate buckeyes are peanut butter bonbons dipped in chocolate. Part of the light-colored filling is left un-coated giving the candy the appearance of a buckeye nut. While the buckeye is poisonous, it’s candy copy is edible and delicious.

Wild Flower: White Trillium

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Adopted: 1986

The white trillium, also known as the wake robin or the snow trillium, is a perennial wildflower that grows in all 88 Ohio counties. The plant blooms in the spring with a large, white flower containing three petals. They can be found in shady or mostly shady environments, such as woodlands. Some native Americans cooked and ate the leaves and chewed the rootstalks for medicinal purposes.

Fruit: Tomato

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Adopted: 2009

Many experts credit Ohio native Alexander W. Livingston for inventing the modern tomato. In 1870, Livingston perfected his “Paragon” tomato breed, which was larger and sweeter than most tomatoes Americans knew at that time. Livingston began to grow tomatoes commercially and would develop more than 30 varieties of the fruit. By the late 1800s, commercial tomato farming had taken roots in Ohio and remains an important part of Ohio’s economy.

Native Fruit: Pawpaw

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Adopted: 2009

The pawpaw is the only edible fruit that is native to Ohio. As far back as the 1500s, native Americans in the Ohio valley used the tree fruit for food and trade. It grows two to four inches in length and can be green, yellow, or brown, depending on ripeness. It looks like a short, fat banana, and tastes like a cross between a banana and a mango. It is rich in protein, vitamin C, iron, and potassium. Mid-September is peak harvesting season for pawpaws.

Human-Made State Symbols

Beverage: Tomato Juice

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Adopted: 1965

An Ohioan, Alexander W. Livingston, is largely credited with inventing the modern tomato in 1870. Native Americans and early settlers to the region found the tomato unpleasant, and many feared it was poisonous. Livingston’s larger and sweeter “Paragon” tomato and breeds that would follow it became instant successes. The growing and processing of tomatoes into juice and other products quickly became an integral part of Ohio’s agricultural economy.

Song: "Beautiful Ohio"

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Adopted: 1969

“Beautiful Ohio” was written in 1918 by Mary Earl (music) and Wilbert McBride (lyrics). It was adopted as the state song in 1969. In 1989, with the permission of the Ohio legislature, Wilbert B. McBride revised the lyrics to provide a more accurate portrayal of the state by referring to its industries, cities, and farmland.
Chorus: “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!”

Rock Song: "Hang On Sloopy

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Adopted: 1985

Ohio is the only state to have an official rock song in recognition of the genre’s integral part in state and national culture. Written by Bert Berns and Wes Farrell, “Hang on Sloopy” was a major hit for the band The McCoys in 1965. Two members of the band, Randy and Rick Derringer, were from Ohio. The song is reported to be about Dorothy Sloop, a singer from Steubenville, Ohio, who sometimes used the stage name Sloopy. The Ohio State University Marching Band first performed the song at the Ohio State vs. Illinois football game in October 1965. The marching arrangement written by John Tagenhorst became a staple of the band’s repertoire and cemented the song as an Ohio icon.

Bicentennial Bridge: Blaine Hill Bridge

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Adopted: 2002

The Blaine Hill Bridge spans Wheeling Creek in Belmont County. Built in 1826, it is Ohio’s oldest and longest sandstone bridge. It is the last of three bridges in the “S” three-arch design built during the National Road Project. The bridge was closed to traffic in 1994. In 1999, the Blaine Bridge Community Preservation Project saved the bridge from demolition and began a multiyear project to reconstruct the bridge. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010.

Prehistoric Monument: Newark Earthworks

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Adopted: 2006

Ancient peoples in the region that would become Ohio often constructed mounds, trenches, pits, and other structures from the earth beneath them. Built by the Hopewell culture between 1 and 400 A.D., the Newark Earthworks was the largest of its kind in the state. They originally encompassed more than 4 square miles and used more than seven million cubic feet of earth. They were part cathedral, part cemetery, and part astronomical observatory. Three major segments of the earthworks survive today: The Great Circle (including Eagle Mound), the Octagon, and the Wright Earthworks.

Artifact: Adena Pipe

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Adopted: 2013

The Adena Pipe was found among other relics in a mound near Chillicothe in Ross County. The pipe is tubular and carved to resemble a man wearing a loincloth and feather bustle. It is believed that pipe was used for smoking tobacco and its owner was an important person in his time, perhaps a leader or shaman. The Adena culture thrived from 800 B.C. to 100 A.D. in what would become the Scioto and Hocking River valleys in Ohio.

Historical Architectural Structure: Barn

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Adopted: 2019

Barns are a symbol of Ohio’s rich agricultural heritage and economy. Farms dot the Ohio landscape from Lake Erie to the Ohio River. It’s no surprise that barns can be found all around the state. Timber frame barns came in many different sizes, colors, and shapes. Some were uniquely shaped to serve the needs of the farm. Others reflect the preferences and beliefs of their builders and owners. Some were painted with murals or advertisem*nts. From 1997 through 2002, artist Scott Hagan painted one barn in each of Ohio’s 88 counties with a logo commemorating Ohio’s 200th anniversary in 2003.

Geological Symbols

Gemstone: Flint

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Adopted: 1965

Flint is a hard and brittle rock that was important to the native Americans who lived in the Ohio region before its settlement. A variety of quartz, flint could be easily shaped into different tools, often with razor-sharp edges. Flint Ridge in Licking and Muskingum counties was the most remarkable of Ohio’s many flint deposits. It was quarried by native Americans for more than 12,000 years and people would travel hundreds of miles to produce or replace tools in the region. Early European settlers also valued flint for fire staters, flintlock guns, and grinding stones. Today, flint is often polished as jewelry.


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Adopted: 1985

Isotelus was a trilobite, which is an invertebrate marine creature having a hard outer shell or skeleton. Trilobite means “three-lobed creature,” and the animals were so named because two lines that crossed their bodies made them appear to be in three parts. Isotelus was one of the largest trilobites, with some of them reaching more than two feet in length. The animal became extinct approximately 430 million years ago, but their fossils can still be found in Ohio. Their existence is evidence that the region was once covered by an ocean.

Fossil Fish:Placoderm Fish

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Adopted: 2021

Placoderms were large, armored, prehistoric fish that became extinct nearly 360 million years ago. The fish could grow as large as 20 feet in length and had a series of thick, bony plates that protected their heads and bodies. They were active predators with a jaw that could shear or crush their prey. Fossils of placoderms have been found in Ohio shale deposits. The Cleveland Museum of Natural History has a large collection of specimens on display.

Ohio Facts: State Symbols (2024)


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