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State Symbols Used on this Website
(for more, see "Massachusetts Facts")

Massachusetts State Bird - Chickadee

The Black-Capped Chickadee (Penthestes atricapillus) was adopted as the official State Bird by the Massachusetts Legislature on March 21, 1941. It is also known as the titmouse, tomtit, and the dickybird, and it is one of the most familiar of the North American birds. It is from four to five inches in size, its tail accounting for nearly half its length. The general coloring is ashy-grey, the back having a brownish tinge; the crown, nape, chin, and throat are black, and the cheeks white. It nests in a stump, tree, or fence post close to the ground, and broods twice a year. It is a cheerful bird and has a pleasing call: "Chick-adee-dee-dee".

State Game Bird or Game Bird Emblem

The Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), which was eaten at the first Thanksgiving, was designated the state game bird on December 23, 1991.

Cranberry - State Berry

Cranberry Juice was named the beverage of the Commonwealth on May 4, 1970. This was a tribute to the great Massachusetts cranberry industry, which grows one of the largest crops in the world.

A fifth-grade class on the North Shore adopted the cause of making the Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) the official berry of the state. Their two years of lobbying, petitions, and hearings were finally rewarded in July of 1994.

Mayflower - State Flower

The Mayflower (Epigaea regens), also commonly known as the ground laurel or trailing arbutus, has ovate hairy leaves and fragrant, pink or white, spring-blooming flowers with five petals. It grows in woods, preferring sandy or rocky soil, under or near evergreens. It was adopted as the official flower of the Commonwealth by the General Court on May 1, 1918. Unfortunately, since 1925 it has been on the endangered list.

Boston Terrier - State Dog

The Boston Terrier (Canis familiaris bostenensis), first purebred dog developed in America (1869); a cross between an English bulldog and an English terrier. It was recognized by the Legislature in 1979.

Right Whale - State Marine Mammal

The Right Whale (Eubabalena Glacialis) was so called because the flourishing whaling industry in Massachusetts found the cetacean the "right" whale to hunt, especially before 1750. Unfortunately, the large, slow-moving mammal, which is found nearer shore than many other whales, was hunted nearly to extinction and is only now rebuilding its population. The Legislature adopted the whale in March 1980.

Johnny Appleseed - State Folk Hero

The Legislature adopted Johnny Appleseed as folk hero on August 2, 1996. He was born John Chapman in Leominster in 1775, at the time of independence. Chapman gained fame and his nickname because of the apple trees he planted in rural areas beyond Massachusetts. The apple blossom is the state flower in Arkansas and Michigan, two of the far flung states that received his apple seedlings.

American Elm - State Tree

The American Elm (Ulmus Americana) was adopted as the official tree March 21, 1941, to commemorate the fact that General George Washington took command of the Continental Army beneath one on Cambridge Common in 1775. It is a large tree, with gray flaky bark. When growing in the forest it often attains a height of 120 feet, but in the open it is wide-spreading and of lesser height. The leaves are oval, and dark green, turning to a clear yellow in the autumn. The American Elm, like most elms, has been severely afflicted by Elm Disease.

Ladybug - State Insect

The Ladybug; also lady beetle, ladybird, ladyfly, etc. Most common in the state is the Two-Spotted Lady Beetle (Adalia bipunctata). Its head is black with pale yellowish margins; elytra reddish, with two black spots. Idea originated in 1974 with a second-grade class in the Town of Franklin.

State Horse

The Morgan Horse was adopted as the official state horse in 1970. The first of this breed is said to have been born in 1789 in West Springfield, MA. Originally called "Figure", he could outrun and outwork any horse in the area. Later, this horse became known as the Morgan Horse after its original owner, Justin Morgan, and is still admired today as a strong and sturdy horse.


State Cookie

The Chocolate Chip Cookie was designated the official cookie of the Commonwealth on July 9, 1997. A third grade class from Somerset proposed the bill to honor the cookie invented in 1930 at the Toll House Restaurant in Whitman. 


State Bean

Cultivated plants and the colloquial names for them change over the centuries, but in 1993 the legislature finally determined that the Navy Bean had been the original bean in the famous and venerable Boston Baked Bean recipe.


State Muffin

The schoolchildren of Massachusetts petitioned for the Corn Muffin, a staple of New England cooking, and the Legislature made it official in 1986.


State Dessert

The Boston Cream Pie, created in the 19th century, was chosen as the official state dessert on December 12, 1996. A civics class from Norton High School sponsored the bill. The pie beat out other candidates, including the toll house cookie and Indian pudding.


State Fish or Fish Emblem

The Cod (Gadus morrhua). A soft-finned fish, usually 10-20 lbs. General coloring is olive grey with lateral lines paler than rest of body tint. Indians and Pilgrims used them as common food and fertilizer. A sculpture of a cod hangs in the House of Representatives as a tribute to this useful aquatic creature. For over 200 years, the emblem of the cod has remained a symbol of the Commonwealth's economic beginnings, as the fishing industry provided the Puritans with food, fertilizer, and revenue for trade.

State Shell

The New England Neptune (Neptuna lyrata decemcostata) was made the state shell in 1987.

State Gem or Gem Emblem

Rhodonite is the most beautiful gem material found in the state. It varies in hue from a light pink to a deep rose or reddish pink and is associated with black manganese. It was adopted in 1979.

State Mineral or Mineral Emblem

The finest quality Babingtonite in America has come from this state. Although the Commonwealth is not overly blessed with mineral resources, it is one of the few locations in the world where this usually jet black material with a brilliant submetallic luster is found. The Legislature adopted it in April of 1971.

State Rock or Rock Emblem

The Roxbury Puddingstone, sometimes called Roxbury Conglomerate, became the state rock in 1983.


State Historical Rock

Plymouth Rock. Although the Pilgrims did not actually land on it, its historical significance led the Legislature to commemorate it in 1983.


State Explorer Rock

Dighton Rock was made the explorer rock of the state in 1983.


State Building Rock and Monument Stone

Granite was made the building rock of the State in 1983. The last Ice Age did leave Massachusetts with exceptionally fine samples of this rock; granite from Quincy was used to build the Washington Monument.


Soil of the Commonwealth

The Paxton Soil Series was adopted by the Legislature on July 10, 1990.

State Fossil or Fossil Emblem

The Dinosaur Tracks in Massachusetts, which were made over 200 million years ago. In Granby, the prints of a theropod dinosaur fifty feet in length from head to tail (the first record of a theropod of such magnitude), were found. They were made the official fossil in 1980.


© Massachusetts Studies Project 1997 - 2002