A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

Carolina Tartan • State Tartan The creation of our state tartan was a natural consequence of the deep and abiding connections shared by Scotland and the Carolinas. Dogwood • State

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

Carolina Tartan • State Tartan The creation of our state tartan was a natural consequence of the deep and abiding connections shared by Scotland and the Carolinas. Dogwood • State

North Carolina’s Official State Symbols

Carolina TartanState Tartan

The creation of our state tartan was a natural consequence of the deep and abiding connections shared by Scotland and the Carolinas.

DogwoodState Flower

North Carolinians know it’s not truly spring until the dogwoods bloom. The showy and beautiful dogwood tree became the state flower — yes, flower — in 1941, but the pops of white scattered along the edges of woods across the state have been a welcome herald of warmer weather since long before that.

illustration by Kyle T. Webster

Plott HoundState Dog

Generations of the Plott family have bred this brave, tenacious hound in Haywood County, where it’s been used for more than two centuries to hunt bear and wild boar.

CardinalState Bird

Regal, perky cardinals are monogamous and often mate for life, making them a symbol not only of the Old North State, but also of loyalty, constancy, and devotion.

illustration by Kyle T. Webster

HoneybeeState Insect

In 1973, the North Carolina General Assembly recognized the importance of pollinators to our agriculture industry by designating the honeybee as our state insect. Sixteen other states claim the honeybee as theirs, but we were the first to offer royal treatment.

MilkState Beverage

North Carolina’s dairy industry churns out about one billion pounds of milk each year, so it’s fitting that milk was named the state beverage. Iredell County leads the charge in dairy production.

Sweet PotatoesState Vegetable

Growing nearly half of the country’s supply, North Carolina produces more sweet potatoes than any other state.

Stock Car RacingState Sport

Born on the dirt tracks of the Piedmont, our state sport became a national pastime in the 1960s.

Gray SquirrelState Mammal

This prolific, adaptable species is found everywhere from our eastern swamps to our western hardwood forests. In other words, it’s ubiquitous.

illustration by Kyle T. Webster

Scuppernong GrapeState Fruit

The musky perfume of sweet, round, green-gold scuppernongs announces autumn in eastern North Carolina. A large, old variety of muscadine, our native grape grows only in the South, and was named after the area of Tyrrell County where it was first recorded in the 1700s.

GoldState Mineral

More than 220 years after 12-year-old Conrad Reed discovered a 17-pound yellow “rock” in Cabarrus County, kicking off the nation’s first gold rush, our state mineral continues to capture our imagination.

EmeraldState Precious Stone

North America’s only significant emerald deposits are found in Alexander, Mitchell, and Cleveland counties. At the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh is the 64-carat Carolina Emperor, the largest cut emerald on the continent. It’s a dazzling display of the precious green gemstone.

Brook TroutState Freshwater Trout

Our native trout can only be found in the pure, high-elevation streams of Southern Appalachia.

Channel BassState Saltwater fish

Also known as redfish, red drum, and puppy drum, this headstrong saltwater fish loves small tidal creeks, flooded marshes, crashing surf, rough-water shoals, and deep tidal rivers. In other words, to fish for channel bass is to hunt for channel bass.

illustration by Kyle T. Webster

Shad BoatState Historical Boat

Designed and built with local wood by a native on Roanoke Island, the shad boat sailed the sounds well into the 20th century, as hardy as the fishermen it carried.

Pine • State Tree

Despite our nickname being the land of the longleaf pine, no single species of pine is designated as our state tree, leaving North Carolinians to debate whether the General Assembly meant the loblolly or the longleaf.

illustration by Kyle T. Webster

Fraser FirState Christmas Tree

The “Cadillac of Christmas trees” thrives at elevations above 3,000 feet, meaning that western North Carolina is home to rolling patchwork quilts of Fraser firs. It’s the most popular Christmas tree in North America, and we’re proud to call it our own.

Blueberry & StrawberryState Berries

Yes, we have a state blue berry (ahem, the blueberry) and a state red berry (the strawberry). Because two berries are better than one.

illustration by Kyle T. Webster

WhirligigsState Folk Art

Dozens of these colorful, wind-activated sculptures — made with salvaged metal by folk artist Vollis Simpson — spin, swing, and, well, whirl at Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park in Wilson.

Colonial Spanish MustangState Horse

The majestic wild horses on our coast are descended from Spanish mustangs brought by the earliest European explorers 500 years ago.

ClayStart Art Medium

In the Piedmont, red clay is a source of work and of art. Generations of hardworking North Carolinians have reckoned with the red land, and a handful of industrious souls found a different way to master it: Potters shape it to their will.

“The Old North State: A Toast”State Toast

North Carolina is the only state with an official toast, and that deserves … well, a toast!

illustration by Kyle T. Webster

“The Old North State”State Song

North Carolina’s official state song, “The Old North State,” was adopted as such by the General Assembly in 1927, but it had been sung as the unofficial state song — albeit with a few different arrangements — since it was written in 1835. It is not, despite common misconception, the state toast set to music.

GraniteState Rock

In Mount Airy, the world’s largest open-faced granite quarry is a scientific wonder. Its owners have mined it for 130 years, pulling out some of the finest white granite anywhere. When the General Assembly named granite our state rock in 1979, they exalted it as “a symbol of strength and steadfastness, qualities characteristic of North Carolinians.”

Pine Barrens Tree FrogState Frog

This very green but seldom-seen species, which lives in the pine forests of the Coastal Plain and the Sandhills, is considered one of the most beautiful frogs in the Southeast.

Marbled SalamanderState Salamander

Good luck spotting this striking salamander: The species, which gets its name from the white or grey bands across its back and sides, is relatively common across North Carolina, but it’s also super secretive.

Scotch BonnetState Shell

The 1965 session during which the General Assembly picked our state shell was apparently quite long. Many members felt that the Scotch bonnet — pronounced “bonay” — was too elusive on our beaches, too fragile. But the bonnet prevailed. And we continue to comb our beaches in search of it.

illustration by Kyle T. Webster

The Carolina ShagState Popular Dance

This born-at-the-beach boogie is the offspring of a 1940s Carolina beach music tradition merged with a healthy dose of Motown. Let the sand be your dance floor.

CloggingState Folk Dance

This foot-tapping dance originated in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, where folk dance traditions brought over by the area’s European settlers melded with those of African and Native Americans.

Megalodon Shark ToothState Fossil

My, what big teeth you have! The fossilized tooth of the largest shark to ever live, the megalodon, is our state fossil. Occasionally, lucky beachcombers find the prehistoric chompers washed up on our shores.

Eastern Box TurtleState Reptile

Each eastern box turtle — the only terrestrial turtle native to North Carolina — has a unique shell pattern and a strong homing instinct.

illustration by Kyle T. Webster

OpossumState Marsupial

Yes, the opossum is a state symbol and has been since 2013, when the legislature named it our state marsupial. No disrespect to opossums (or legislators), but that’s not saying much — the opossum is the only marsupial found in the state (and, for that matter, in all of North America).

Carolina LilyState Wildflower

The yellow to reddish-orange and brown-spotted blooms of this wildflower are breathtakingly beautiful — when you can find them.

Eastern Tiger SwallowtailState Butterfly

Check your butterfly bush! Buttery yellow butterflies with black stripes bring spring on their wings. The state butterfly can be found in all 100 counties.

This story was published on Nov 16, 2022

Our State Staff

Since 1933, Our State has shared stories about North Carolina with readers both in state and around the world. We celebrate the people and places that make this state great. From the mountains to the coast, we feature North Carolina travel, history, food, and beautiful scenic photography.