20 Texas state symbols every Texan should know

February 18, 2022

Learn more about the Texas state symbols and what they mean.

The Texas flag, a Texas State Symbol

Every Texan probably knows the Texas state flower, but did you know we have a state plant and a state tree, too? You may know the Texas state bird, but did you know we have a state reptile, small mammal, AND large mammal? We have a Texas state dish, but we also have a state vegetable and fruit, too! 

Texas has many state symbols, each connected to our historical roots, geography, and culture. In fact, we have a Texas state symbol for just about every category of symbol you can think of! But what are they? Where did they come from and what makes them special? 
With Texas Independence Day around the corner, it's the perfect time to talk about these 20 Texas state symbols and how they help make Texas a unique, one-of-a-kind place! Read on, ya'll! 

What is the Texas state motto?

The Texas state motto is Friendship, which was adopted in 1930. Many people mistake the Texas state motto for “Remember the Alamo,” which was the Republic of Texas motto from 1836 to 1845. The new motto was most likely chosen because the state’s name was the Spanish pronunciation for the word “teyshas” or “thecas,” which was the local Native American tribe’s word for friends or allies.

What is the Texas state nickname?

The Texas state nickname is the Lone Star State. It got this nickname in 1836 when the Republic of Texas declared itself an independent nation. They flew a flag with a single star on it, thus the nickname, the Lone Star State. The lone star can still be seen on the Texas state flag today.

What is the Texas state song?

The Texas state song is “Texas, Our Texas.” Written by William J. Marsh and Gladys Yoakum Wright, this song was adopted as the state song in 1929. Only one change has been made since then. After Alaska became a state in 1959, the phrase “largest and grandest” was changed to “boldest and grandest” since Texas was no longer the largest U.S. state.

What is the Texas state capital?

The Texas state capital is Austin, TX. Founded in 1839, this popular Texas city has a rich history. It was named for Stephen F. Austin, who was known as the Father of Texas. Despite some worries that the city was too remote and may be difficult to defend from enemies, Mirabeau B. Lamar, the president of the Republic of Texas, named Austin the capital city.

When Sam Houston became president in 1842, he moved the state records to Houston, TX, but Austin regained its capital status in 1846 when Texas became a state.

What is the Texas state musical instrument?

The Texas state musical instrument is the guitar. Legislators officially adopted the guitar as the state musical instrument in 1997. This instrument commemorates an important part of the state’s culture as well as its contributions to the world of music, especially in pop, blues, country, jazz, rock, and Tejano music.

What is the Texas state sport?

The Texas state sport is rodeo. With roots in 1700s Spanish cattle culture, the rodeo became popularized in Texas by Mexican vaqueros and American cowboys. By the late 1800s, rodeos became commonplace in Texas. In 1936, it became a formally recognized sport.

What is the Texas state dish?

The Texas state dish is Chili Con Carne, or just "chili" for short. Meaning chili with meat, this was a popular trail stew for cowboys. This dish is commonly made with ground beef or chuck roast and a mix of different chilies. You may find that some Texans are a bit secretive about their guarded family recipes, especially since chili cook-offs have become somewhat of a state pastime.

What is the Texas state fruit?

The Texas state fruit is the red grapefruit. Designated as the official state fruit in 1993, the red grapefruit has been grown by Texans in the Rio Grande Valley for a century. In 1929, the Texas Ruby Red (a mutation on a single tree) received the first patent ever awarded to a grapefruit.

What is the Texas state vegetable?

The Texas state vegetable is the sweet onion. Designated as the official state vegetable in 1997, this onion (known as Texas 1015) is super sweet. It also contains very little pyruvate, the enzyme that makes people tear up while chopping onions.

What is the Texas state small mammal?

The Texas state small mammal is the nine-banded armadillo, also known as the long-nosed armadillo. These nocturnal animals are the only armadillo species that are native to North America. In 1995, elementary school children had a mock election where they voted for the state mammal. The election resulted in a tie between the armadillo and the longhorn, so legislators decided to have both a small and large state mammal.

What is the Texas state large mammal?

The Texas state large mammal is the Texas Longhorn, which earned this title in 1995. Longhorns are well known for their long horns and tough hooves. These hardy animals are a great symbol of Texas tenacity. In fact, they were nearly bred out of existence but were saved by breeders in the 1920s. They’ve been a mainstay of Texas ranching ever since.

What is the Texas state flying mammal?

The Texas state flying mammal is the Mexican Free-Tailed Bat. The largest concentration of these bats in the United States happens to be in Bracken Cave, about 20 miles from downtown San Antonio. It’s estimated that about 20 million bats make their home in this cave from March to October. When it starts to get chilly in late October, they make their way to Mexico until spring.

But these little critters don't just hide away in dark caves. From late spring into fall, around 1.5 million Mexican Free-Tailed Bats can be found hanging out under the Congress Avenue bridge in downtown Austin! In fact, it's even a local tradition to grab a seat nearby and watch as they pour out like black smoke into the evening sky, off to hunt bugs!

What is the Texas state bird?

The Texas state bird is the Northern Mockingbird. State legislators thought it was the perfect pick for Texas since the birds are found in all parts of Texas, in all seasons, and in both rural and urban areas. It also is a good representation of Texas in that it has a distinct song and fights to protect its home like a true Texan.

What is the Texas state reptile?

Adopted in 1993, the Texas state reptile is the Texas Horned Lizard. This creature is also known as the horned toad, horned frog, and horny toad, even though it is a lizard. State legislators found it to be a worthy representative of Texas because, despite its frightening appearance, it is a docile and peaceful creature at heart.

What is the Texas state insect?

The Texas state insect is the Monarch butterfly, which was adopted in 1993. Due to its location, Texas plays an important role in the monarch butterfly’s life cycle.

The butterflies lay their eggs in Texas and other southern states when they migrate from Mexico to Canada in the spring. On their way back to hibernate in the mountains of Mexico through the winter, they make a stop in Texas to rest and feed.

What is the Texas state fish?

The Texas state fish is the Guadalupe Bass. This bass was adopted as the state fish in 1989, and it’s well-known in the fishing community for its hard-fighting spirit. The fish is actually exclusive to Texas and helps the sport-fishing industry bring in $70 million to Texas annually.

What is the Texas state tree?

The Texas state tree is the pecan tree. This native tree’s popularity increased in 1906 when the former governor James Stephen Hogg requested that a pecan tree be planted over his grave. In 1919, the pecan tree was adopted as the official state tree. The pecan is Texas’ only commercially grown nut, and it can be found in pies, candies, and other treats made in the state.

What is the Texas state flower?

The Texas state flower is the bluebonnet. This native flower was named the official state flower in 1901, beating out the cotton boll and prickly pear cactus for the title! When these flowers appear in late March through early April, they signal to Texans that spring has finally arrived.

What is the Texas state plant?

The Texas state plant is the Prickly Pear Cactus. With more than 100 species of wild cactus growing in Texas, it’s no surprise that this is the official state plant. Ranchers burn the spines from the pads to use them as cattle feed and the pads are also often used in Tex-Mex cuisine. The cactus’s fruits can be made into wine, pies, jams, and jellies.

What is the Texas state gem?

The Texas state gem is Blue Topaz. Adopted in 1969 as the official state gem, blue topaz is found in Central Texas in the Llano uplift area. Although topaz comes in a variety of colors, naturally occuring blue topaz is quite rare. Often sought for its striking beauty, this gem is commonly used in jewelry. In fact, it’s one of the most commonly used gemstones.

Did you recognize all 20 symbols on our list? Did any of them surprise you? Now that you've brushed up on your knowledge of Texas state symbols, quiz your family and friends and share these interesting facts about all the things that make Texas unique, from the quirky and fun to the awe-inspiring and beautiful!

Armadillo in bluebonnets, two Texas state symbols 
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by Geoff Ullrich

About the Author

Geoff Ullrich is a writer and Content Marketing Specialist at Germania Insurance.