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State Plants and Animals


West Virginia has named several plants and animals as official symbols of the state. These include the great rhododendron (state flower); cardinal (state bird); black bear (state animal); sugar maple (state tree); brook trout (state fish); golden delicious apple (state fruit); monarch butterfly (state butterfly); honeybee (state insect); timber rattlesnake (state reptile); and northern red salamander (state amphibian).

The species chosen for such distinction are those especially familiar or meaningful to West Virginians. Often the process begins with a vote by the schoolchildren of the state, followed by governmental action in Charleston. Thus the great rhododendron, our first official state species, was designated in 1903 by a resolution of the legislature, preceded by a vote of the schoolchildren and a recommendation by Governor White. The state tree and state bird were named through a similar process in 1949. The honeybee, West Virginia’s state insect, was honored in 2002, the timber rattlesnake in 2008, and the northern red salamander in 2015.

Some of the species chosen, such as the cardinal, are widely beloved and the official symbol of many other states in addition to West Virginia. Designation as a state plant or animal is only symbolic, indicating the interest and affection of West Virginians, and carries no protection the plant or animal is not otherwise entitled to.