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List of Kentucky state symbols

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Title: List of Kentucky state symbols  
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List of Kentucky state symbols

The Commonwealth of Kentucky has 29 official state emblems, as well as other designated places and events. The majority are determined by acts of the Kentucky General Assembly and recorded in Title I, Chapter 2 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes.[1] The state's nickname – "The Bluegrass State" – is traditional, but has never been passed into law by the General Assembly. It does, however, appear on the state's license plates. Despite the nickname's popularity, the General Assembly has not designated bluegrass (or any other grass) as the official state grass.

The first symbol was the Seal of Kentucky, which was made official in 1792. The original seal also contained the future state motto. It served as the state's only emblem for over 130 years until the adoption of the state bird in 1926. Enacted by law in 2010, the newest symbols of Kentucky are the state insect, the honey bee, and the state sports car, the Chevrolet Corvette.


Type Symbol Description Year Image Source
Flag The Flag of Kentucky Kentucky's flag has a navy blue background with the Seal of Kentucky in the middle. 1928 Kentucky flag [2][3]
Latin motto Deo gratiam habeamus
Let us be grateful to God
2002 [4]
Motto United we stand, divided we fall 1942 [4]
Nickname The Bluegrass State The native bluegrass that grows in the state's pasture land Traditional [5]
Seal The Seal of Kentucky Kentucky's seal depicts two men embracing, the state motto and two sprigs of goldenrod. 1792 Kentucky State Seal [6][7]
Slogan Kentucky Unbridled Spirit The slogan alludes to Kentucky's reputation in horse racing and horse farms. 2004 [8]


Type Symbol Description Year Image Source
Bird Cardinal
Cardinalis cardinalis
The male cardinal is bight red and the female is brown and dull red. They live in Kentucky year-round. 1926 Cardinal [9]
Butterfly Viceroy Butterfly
Limenitis archippus
Viceroys are a Müllerian mimic to the Monarchs which birds avoid eating because they are toxic and distasteful. The butterfly is usually found all over the state, except in mountainous areas, from April till November.[10] 1990 Viceroy Butterfly [11]
Fish Kentucky Spotted Bass
Micropterus punctulatus
Similar to the largemouth bass, a common sporting fish that usually weighs up to 5 pounds (2.3 kg). 2005
Flower Goldenrod
Soldiago gigantea
The goldenrod has a yellow flower that blooms in late summer and early fall. It is also the state flower of Nebraska. 1926 Goldenrod [13]
Fruit Blackberry
Rubus allegheniensis
This soft fruit is used to make jams, seedless jellies and wine. 2004
Horse Thoroughbred
Equus caballus
A horse breed best known for its use in horse racing. Over 30% of all U.S. thoroughbred births happen in Kentucky, more than any other state[15] 1996
Insect Honey Bee
Apis mellifera
Official state insect in 17 states 2010
Tree Tulip Poplar
Liriodendron tulipifera
The tulip tree is also called the yellow poplar. It has a distinctive leaf shape and yellow, bell-shaped flowers. 1994 Tulip Poplar tree [18]
Wild animal game species Eastern Gray Squirrel
Sciurus carolinensis
Predominantly gray fur but it can have a reddish, black or white color. It has a white underside and a large bushy tail. 1968 Eastern Grey Squirrell [19]


Type Symbol Description Year Image Source
Fossil Brachiopod Brachiopods are the most collected fossil in Kentucky. They resemble clams, but their top and bottom shell are not identical, and they don't burrow into the sand.[20] 1986 Abyssal Brachiopod [21]
Gemstone Freshwater pearl The pearl is formed in several species of freshwater mussels. Originally found all over Kentucky, increased pollution, over-harvesting and damming of rivers have severely depleted the population of freshwater mussels.[22] 1986 Pearl [23]
Mineral Coal Kentucky is the third leading state in coal production.[24] 1998 Coal [25]
Rock Kentucky Agate Agate, a form of quartz, has varying shades of color arranged in layers of red, black, yellow, and gray. 2000 [26]
Soil Crider Soil Series The Crider soils make up about 500,000 acres (2,000 km2) in Kentucky. Most areas are used for crops or pasture for corn, small grain, soybeans, tobacco, and hay. 1990 [27]


Type Symbol Description Year Image Source
Beverage Milk 2005 A glass of milk [28]
Bluegrass song Blue Moon of Kentucky
by Bill Monroe
Kentucky native Bill Monroe wrote this song in 1947 and performed it soon thereafter. Elvis Presley sung the song when he auditioned for the Grand Ole Opry and later recorded it for his first single for Sun Records. 1988
Dance Clogging Clogging in the southern U.S. has its roots from early settlers. English clogging, Irish Jigs, African-American buck dance and Cherokee dance.[30] 2006 Couple of women dancing [31]
Language English Over 95% of the state's residents are able to speak English.[32] 1984 [33]
Music Bluegrass music
But it wasn't called bluegrass back then. It was just called old time mountain hillbilly music. When they started doing the bluegrass festivals in 1965, everybody got together and wanted to know what to call the show, y'know. It was decided that since Bill was the oldest man, and was from the Bluegrass state of Kentucky and he had the Blue Grass Boys, it would be called 'bluegrass.'
— Don Harrison, [34]
2007 Women playing the banjo, guitar, bass and violin [35]
Musical instrument Appalachian Dulcimer A stringed instrument that appeared in the south in the early 19th century 2001 Five stringed instruments [36]
Silverware pattern Old Kentucky blue grass, the Georgetown pattern 1996 [37]
Song "My Old Kentucky Home" The song describes life on a Kentucky plantation. 1928 [38]
Sports car Chevrolet Corvette Since 1981, the Chevrolet Corvette has been manufactured in Bowling Green. 2010 [39]


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