From the roots of the buckeye tree to the flight path of the bright red cardinal, many of Ohio’s state symbols show a strong connection with nature. Ohio lawmakers have been designating state symbols since the early 19th century. Animals, plants, and even prehistoric fossils have made the list. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has experts who can help you learn about 12 state symbols you can see across the Buckeye State.
The State Bird: Cardinal
With red plumage and a distinct song, cardinals can be found across Ohio year-round. Division of Wildlife Biologist Dr. Laura Kearns explains what connects one of America’s favorite backyard birds to the Buckeye State.
The State Frog: Bullfrog
A deep croak connects male bullfrogs with their own chorus line. Wildlife biologist Kipp Brown describes the Ohio state frog’s song, its purpose, and why you shouldn’t count on getting your hands on one.
The State Insect: Ladybug
Did you know NASA sent ladybugs to space? Wildlife Technician Sarah Stankavich explains what Ohio’s official state insect has in common with several other state symbols.
The State Tree: Ohio Buckeye
Solid and strong, the buckeye tree is an essential symbol of our state. Forester Tyler Stevenson explains where the buckeye gets its name and why this tree will always be associated with Ohio.
The State Invertebrate Fossil: Isotelus
Last seen hundreds of millions of years ago, the Isotelus is Ohio’s official invertebrate fossil. Geologist Mark Peter explains where you can find the fossil now, and how some of Ohio’s youngest residents were behind its state status.
The State Fossil Fish: Dunkleosteus terrelli (“The Dunk”)
A top predator and bigger than any great white shark, the Dunkleosteus terrelli (aka the “Dunk”) is Ohio’s newest state symbol. Geologist Erika Danielsen explains what led scientists to the fish fossil 360 million years after its existence.
The State Gemstone: Flint
Beautiful and brittle, Ohio’s state gemstone was historically used for more than fashion. Geologist Sam Hulett explains how flint was used, why Ohio has some of the most sought-after flint in the world, and where it can be found.
The State Native Fruit: Pawpaw
The official native fruit of Ohio has seen a resurgence of interest over the last 20 years. The Pawpaw tree’s tropical appearance makes it easy to recognize, and, as Forester Cotton Randall explains, the pawpaw can be used for a lot of delicious recipes to fill your plate.
The State Reptile: Black Racer Snake
Three to five feet long and a painful bite are characteristic of Ohio’s state reptile, the Black Racer Snake. Wildlife expert Brian Banbury tells us how fast they can go and why you’ll need to look down AND up to spot them.
The State Wildflower: Large-Flowered Trillium
Ohio’s state wildflower can bloom spring after spring for up to 25 years! The Large-flowered trillium is found across Ohio, and many creatures in the Buckeye State benefit from them. Botanist Rick Gardner explains the beauty and utility of the large-flowered trillium.
The State Mammal: White-Tailed Deer
Beauty and Grace define Ohio’s official state mammal. You’ve probably seen a white-tailed deer, but you may not know how important they are to Ohio’s past. Deer program administrator Michael J. Tonkovich explain the role these creatures played in the state’s history.
The State Amphibian: Spotted Salamander
Ohio’s state amphibian moves under the cover of night. The spotted salamander spends most of its time underground. Wildlife biologist Kate Parsons explains the defense these spotted creatures use to survive.