Learn More about West Virginia

State Animal: Black Bear

The Black Bear, or Ursus americanus, was selected in 1954-55 and adopted by the Legislature as the official state animal on March 23, 1973. Actually deeply tinted with brown, the black bear roams freely throughout 36 states and Canada, with its West Virginia habitat primarily focused in the eastern mountain region of the state. One or two cubs, rarely three, are born at a time, weighing about eight ounces each and reaching an average maximum weight of 250 pounds as adults.

State Bird: Cardinal

The Cardinal, or Cardinalis cardinalis, became West Virginia’s official bird in 1949 by the Legislature authorizing a vote by pupils of public schools and civic organizations. The male cardinal is a rich scarlet color with a mask and shading of black, while the young and females are a less brilliant color. The cardinal measures approximately eight inches long and is found from New York to the Gulf of Mexico and as far west as Oklahoma.

State Fish: Brook Trout

Adopted as the State Fish March 23, 1973, during regular session following a poll of sportsmen, the Brook Trout, a West Virginia native fish, is perhaps the most-sought-after trout by anglers, as it puts up an excellent fight for its size. It thrives in small, cold, spring-fed streams and is unable to withstand warmer temperatures. The brook trout is olive with lighter sides and a reddish belly (in males) and is easily identified by the light-colored edges of the lower fins.

State Fruit: Golden Delicious Apple

The Golden Delicious Apple was designated as the official state fruit by the Legislature on February 20, 1995. Anderson Mullins discovered this apple variety in Clay County in 1905. The plain apple had been previously designated as the official state fruit on March 7, 1972.

State Flower: Rhododendron

The Rhododendron maximum, or “big laurel,” is the state flower of West Virginia. It was adopted by the Legislature on January 23, 1903 following a recommendation by the Governor and a vote by the pupils of 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 blooms, with either red or yellow flecks.

State Butterfly: Monarch

The Monarch Butterfly was designated West Virginia’s official state butterfly on March 1, 1995, by the Legislature. The orange and black insect feasts on milkweed as a caterpillar, sips nectar from flowers as a butterfly and, at summer’s end, migrates south to Mexico. The butterflies you see in the spring are the great grandchildren of the ones that lived in Mexico during the winter.

State Tree: Sugar Maple

The Sugar Maple, Acer saccarum, became West Virginia’s official tree by a resolution of the 1949 Legislature. Known for maple syrup and excellent wood for furniture, the Sugar Maple grows to be 70-120 feet high and produces two to three pounds of sap sugar. The tree has a five lobed leaf and in the fall when the leaves turn brilliant colors has a small wing-shaped seed pod.

State Insect: Honeybee

The Honeybee became West Virginia’s official state insect March 7, 2002, by the Legislature. In addition to its flavorful honey, the honeybee pollinates many of the state’s most important crops including fruits, vegetables and grasses. Its activity produces more benefit to the state’s economy than any other insect. The honeybee has six legs, four wings and its coloring ranges from dark yellow to gold with three dark bands on its abdomen.

State Flag

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 as follows: "That the Legislature of West Virginia hereby adopts a State Flag of the following design and proportions, to-wit:

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."

State Seal

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 the State was admitted to the Union, June 20, 1863. The farmer with his ax represents agriculture, and the miner holding 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."

Kid's Activity Book

Kid's Activity BookIn this activity book, you will learn about our culture, our history, and the many West Virginians who have made the Mountain State what it is today. With every turn of the page, you will have the opportunity to relive history. You will learn that West Virginia is the only state formed by presidential proclamation and the only state entirely within the Appalachian Mountains. You will learn about our government and the legislative process—and how you can get involved. Whether you’re studying at school or spending time with friends, there’s always something new to learn.

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