State Symbols

State Symbols

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was proudly founded by William Penn in 1681. Pennsylvania’s rich history spans five centuries and is woven into the fabric of our nation’s founding.

Find out more about the official emblems, symbols, and inventions that have come to represent Pennsylvania.

State Emblems

State Motto

Pennsylvania’s motto is “Virtue, Liberty, and Independence.”

State Coat of Arms

Pennsylvania’s coat of arms is one of the most familiar of our state emblems.

The coat of arms features a shield that shows symbols of Pennsylvania’s strengths — a ship to show state commerce being carried worldwide, a plow to show Pennsylvania’s rich natural resources, and three sheaves of wheat to show fertile fields and Pennsylvania’s wealth of human thought and action. An olive branch and cornstalk also cross beneath the shield — symbols of peace and prosperity. The state motto appears beneath.

State Flag

The first state flag of Pennsylvania was authorized by the General Assembly in 1799. Pennsylvania’s flag features the state coat of arms on a field of blue.

Image of the Commonwealth flag.

State Symbols

State Bird: Ruffed Grouse

This brown, chicken-like bird gets its name from the black “ruffs” on the side of its neck. The ruffed grouse was an important part of the food supply for early settlers, and it’s still a familiar sight in Pennsylvania forests today.

State Dog: Great Dane

In frontier Pennsylvania, Great Danes were used as a hunting and working breed. Pennsylvania founder William Penn even had a Great Dane — a portrait of Penn and his Great Dane hangs in the governor’s Reception Room in the Pennsylvania Capitol.

State Animal: White-tailed Deer

Native Americans and settlers alike relied on the white-tailed deer for food and clothing. The white-tailed deer continues to flourish in forests across Pennsylvania.

State Tree: Eastern Hemlock

Eastern hemlocks are a common sight in Pennsylvania forests. A slow-growing, long-lived tree, the eastern hemlock can take 250-300 years to reach maturity and may live for 800 years or more.

State Flower: Mountain Laurel

Mountain laurel is an evergreen shrub native to the eastern United States. Its fragrant star-shaped white and pink flowers have attracted travelers since early colonial days. Each spring, Pennsylvania’s mountainsides come alive with the pink blooms of mountain laurel.

State Fish: Brook Trout

Brook trout are the only trout species native to Pennsylvania. With a preference for clear and pure water, brook trout are at home in Pennsylvania’s 4,000 miles of cold water streams.

State Insect: Firefly

Whether you call them fireflies or lightning bugs, these luminous insects brighten Pennsylvania nights all summer long.

State Amphibian: Eastern Hellbender

The Eastern hellbender is the largest salamander in North America. Hellbenders can only survive in clean water, and their population has been on the decline. The official title as state amphibian is meant to bring attention to efforts to preserve their habitats.

State Inventions

As the birthplace of our nation, Pennsylvania is home to countless firsts. In addition to the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, we are the birthplace of the first:

  • Hospital
  • University
  • Stock exchange
  • Lending library
  • Lightning rod
  • Roller coaster
  • Revolving doors
  • Movie theater
  • Jeep
  • Bubble gum
  • Commercial radio station
  • Banana split
  • Superhighway
  • Little League Baseball
  • Slinky
  • Smiley face emoticon

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