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Official Symbols of California State

Jun 22nd, 2023

California is a state with a rich history, and what better way to honor that history than by officializing its symbols?

Here are just a few of California’s official state symbols and the roles they had to play in the story of our state!

16 California State Symbols


California red legged frog

Identifiable by its reddish body covered with black spots, this Californian amphibian is found in marshes and waterways all over the state. Its population met a sharp decline during the 19th century gold rush, though, as miners ate over 80,000 of the creatures during their stay out in the remote Californian hills. 


California grizzly bear

This bear species was completely wiped out of the state by 1922 after 75 years of terrorizing farms, attacking settlers and disrupting homesteads. Prior to its extinction, ten thousand of the California grizzly bears could be found roaming through valleys and hills around the state’s mountains. 


California quail

This popular game bird is also often referred to as the valley quail, as it is found in valleys and plains all over the state year-round. In winter, these little gray and white-flaked birds congregate in large flocks, though they distribute into pairs during the spring and summer months when it’s easier to hide. 


Blue and gold

As an homage to the state’s gold rush history, the classic blue and gold combo were originally chosen to represent the blue skies and gold nuggets found in the soil. The University of California, Berkeley first adopted the color combo in 1875, but the secretary of state began using the palette on official documents a few decades later in 1913. The blue and gold became official state colors in 1951. 


Augustynolophus morrisi

Though the state doesn’t have nearly the same amount of fossils as, say, Colorado or Texas, a few of these extinct creatures found their way to California soils back in the Maastrichtian Age a cool 66 million years ago — the Augustynolophus morrisi being one of them. 



Though invented in Europe in the 16th century, denim became popular in 19th-century San Francisco when a humble clothing company owned by a guy named Levi Strauss began creating denim work trousers with copper buttons and reinforced pockets. The rest, as they say, is history, and today California produces about three quarters of all the jeans… in the world!


Golden trout

Found only in California waters, this popular game fish was first found in the icy cold waters of the Kern River below Mount Whitney.


California poppy

This delicate orange wildflower covers coastal hills in swaths of vibrant color every spring. Not only is it a gorgeous plant to look at, but it’s also used for oils and food in traditional medicine!


Sabertooth cat

This terrifying ice age creature roamed the Golden State just over 10,000 years ago. 

How do we know this? Well, several of these unlucky creatures fell into the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles where they were preserved for modern-day archaeologists to find!



Nicknamed the “blue diamond” for its startling color and shine, this rare gemstone has only been found in the San Benito River in Central California — hence the name!

Gold rush ghost town


Yup, California has a bona-fide ghost town!

The town of Bodie is truly in the middle of nowhere. Located just an hour north of secluded Mono Lake on the California/Nevada border, Bodie once housed at least ten thousand people during the 19th century gold rush in California. Once the gold ran out, so did the people, and the town has been dusty and empty ever since! 


Purple needle grass

Officially named Nassella pulchra, this long, wispy grass grows all over the state in rich clay soil. It was used extensively by Native Americans as a food source and it’s still used as a staple for cattle and wildlife today. 

A fun fact about this grass: it can live up to 150 years! 


California dog face butterfly

Found only in the foothills of Central California, this delicate orange and black butterfly bears an image of a silhouetted dog’s head on its wings. 


Lace lichen

This delicate green lichen hangs from trees and shrubs all along the West Coast, where animals and birds make use of the light material for food and nests. Though it can be a pain to walk through in a dense forest, the presence of this lichen indicates healthy air quality and a thriving forest ecosystem!

We’re lichen those facts, for sure!

Marine fish


This bright orange, goldfish-looking critter is a common sight along reefs and kelp forest down the Californian coast. In addition to its striking color, divers and swimmers can identify this fun fishy by its characteristic thumping noise that it emits to scare predators from their nests. 

Marine mammal

California gray whale

Identifiable by its fin-less back, splotchy gray color and stumpy-looking tail, these 40-ton behemoths migrate down the California coast to mate and breed in Baja California, up to 7,000 miles away from their home waters in the northern Pacific! 

If you live in or near our luxury Southern California apartments, then be sure to keep an eye out for these symbols in your day-to-day life. You never know how embedded these symbols are in California’s heritage until you’re looking for them!

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Featured photo courtesy Pixabay/lswaters1968

Author of Article

Colleen Ford is a South African who now lives in Spokane, Washington. She loves to travel, camp (in warm weather) and bake.

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