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All the Official Symbols of Washington State

Apr 17th, 2023

We love our dear ol’ Washington State, and there are plenty of symbols that we use to show our love and appreciation of the land. 

If you’re in or near our luxury Seattle apartments, then see how many of these Washington State symbols you already know of!

WA State official symbols

Amphibian: Pacific chorus frog

These precious little frogs make gentle squeaks that, when sung in choruses, serenade nature lovers around ponds, creeks and lakes all over Washington. 

They can be identified by their bright green bodies with a sleek black stripe across their eyes and cheek. 

Bird: willow goldfinch

With a bright yellow body, white-speckled black wings, a black cap forehead and an orange beak, the willow goldfinch — also known as the American goldfinch — can be seen in backyards and grassy areas all over the state. 

Dance: square dance

Yee haw!

Washington has a rich history of pioneers and settlers who, as they made their way across the state, brought with them square dancing. Who would have thought that decades later in 1979, the dance would become forever immortalized in the state’s legislature as the official Washington State dance!

Endemic mammal: Olympic marmot

This furry creature that you can find around rocks, boulder fields and meadows all over the Olympic Peninsula is Washington’s only endemic mammal — meaning you can only find it in Washington and only on the Peninsula!  

Fish: steelhead trout

No matter where we go, we always end up coming back to our dear ol’ Washington — just like the steelhead trout that travels back and forth from Washington’s fresh water and salt water in an age-old cycle of life!


When it comes to state flags, the Washington State flag has a pretty straightforward design. It’s simply the state seal on a green background because, y’know, trees and stuff. 

Flower: coast rhododendron

The 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago prompted a handful of Washington women to rally together and select a state flower for submission to the floral exhibit there. A few selections were tossed around, but eventually the coast rhododendron was chosen and, a few decades later in 1959, the state legislature made it the official state flower!

Folk song: “Roll on, Columbia, Roll On”

Back in the early 1940s, the Bonneville Power Administration ran a campaign aimed at getting more residents to power their homes with electricity from the Grand Coulee and Bonneville hydroelectric dams. Part of their campaign involved paying Woody Guthrie to compose a song for their promotional movie, and he came up with “Roll On, Columbia, Roll On” and 25 other songs in just one month.

The song became the state song a few decades later in 1987!

Fossil: Columbian mammoth

Paleontologists and Earth-scientists have long known that mammoths roamed the continent for almost two million years until the end of the last ice age, which ended about 10,000 years ago.

However, it wasn’t until 2016 that the first fossils of the ancient ice-age behemoths were found in the state on the Olympic Peninsula.

Fruit: apple

If you’ve ever made it across the Cascades to Leavenworth or Wenatchee, then you already know that there are a lot of apples in Washington. 

As in, a lot.

Washington is the nation’s top producer of apples, so it makes sense that the fruit has become the state’s official fruit!

Gem: petrified wood

You know the bridge crossing the Columbia River on Interstate 90? Well, right before the bridge (on the Seattle side) is an unassuming park with some of the oldest biological remains in the region — petrified Ginkgo trees!

Long before the ice-age floods washed through the state, a large forested area covered the center of Washington where there is now only grassland. Volcanic eruptions from the active Cascade volcanoes buried these forests under layers and layers of lava which, because there was no air available, prevented the organic products in the trees from decomposing.

After being buried for millions of years, ice age floods seeped into the lava-soaked ground and eventually made its way through fissures and cracks to the trapped wood below. The water interacts with the chemicals in the organic compounds which, eventually, results in a total mineralization of the wood. 

Thus, these ancient trees which once swayed in the breeze have become a new symbol of Washington — the official state gem!

Grass: bluebunch wheatgrass

This particular type of wheatgrass is familiar with nearly everyone on the eastern side of the state, where hotter, drier temperatures create ideal conditions for this stalky grass to grow. 

Insect: green darner dragonfly

Recognizable by its bright green body and striped black tail, this dragonfly captured the hearts of elementary school students in Kent who, with the help of teachers, brought the matter to legislators and made the bug the official insect of the state!

Oyster: Ostrea lurida

This particular oyster species has long been a part of the shellfish environment and culture in the state, appearing in waters all along the Puget Sound and the West Coast. 


The Washington State Seal, which can be found on the state flag and other state government properties, is a simple design that’s still very effective. All it is is an engraving of George Washington centered in a yellow circle with the words “The Seal of the State of Washington 1889" around it — pretty self explanatory!


Yes! Washington has a state tartan!

Tartans are special weavings of cloth that have certain patterns and colors representing different things. The Washington State tartan is mostly green (for the many forests) with bands of blue (for all the rivers, lakes and ocean waters), white (for the snow), red (for the apples and cherries), yellow (for the wheat and other grain crops) and black (representing the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1983).  

Tree: Western Hemlock

Back in 1946, our state got teased by an Oregon newspaper for not having a state tree. So, what better tree to represent us than the western hemlock that covers much of the western side of the state?

Vegetable: Walla Walla Sweet Onion

This sweet onion variety was developed in the Walla Walla region and, as such, grows exceptionally well in the cold winters and dry summers of southeast Washington. 

Waterfall: Palouse Falls

Fun fact: Washington is the only state with an official state waterfall!

Unless you went looking for it, you’d never know that Palouse Falls even existed out in the desolate Palouse region of southeast Washington. 

Characterized by rolling hills and deep, cavernous ravines created by ancient floods, the Palouse region boasts some beautiful scenery and stunning ravines. These particular falls are some of the last remaining year-round waterfalls created by the ice-age floods, and the 198-foot-tall waterfall attracts anywhere between 80,000 to 100,000 visitors each year!

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Featured photo courtesy Pixabay/stevenmdean

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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