Symbols of Arkansas and Why They’re Significant

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Officially named ‘The Natural State’, Arkansas is abundant with rivers, lakes, clear streams, fish and wildlife. In 1836, Arkansas became a part of the Union as the 25th U.S. state but in 1861, it seceded from the Union, joining the Confederacy instead during the Civil War. Arkansas played a major role in the history of the nation and was the site of numerous Civil War battles.

Arkanas is known for several things such as quartz, spinach and folk music. It’s also the home of Bill Clinton, the 42nd president of the United States as well as several other major celebrities including Ne-Yo, Johnny Cash and author John Grisham. In this article, we’re going to take a brief look at some famous symbols commonly associated with the state of Arkansas.

Arkansas symbols list

Flag of Arkansas

The state flag of Arkansas displays a red, rectangular background with a large, white diamond in its center, representing Arkansas as the only diamond producing state in the United States. The diamond has a thick blue edge with 25 white stars along it, representing the position of Arkansas as the 25th state to join the Union. In the middle of the diamond is the state’s name with one blue star above it symbolizing the Confederacy and three blue stars beneath it which signify the three nations (France, Spain and the United States) that ruled Arkansas before it became a state.

Designed by Willie Hocker, the current design of the Arkansas state flag was adopted in 1912 and has remained in use ever since.

State Seal of Arkansas

The Great Seal of the state of Arkansas features an American bald eagle with a scroll in its beak, holding an olive branch in one claw and a bundle of arrows in the other. Its breast is covered with a shield, engraved with a plow and a beehive in the middle, a steamboat at the top and a sheaf of wheat.

At the top stands the Goddess of Liberty, holding her wreath in her left hand and a pole in her right. She’s surrounded by stars with a circle of rays surrounding them. An angel on the left of the seal holds part of a banner with the word Mercy while a sword on the right-hand corner has the word Justice.

All these elements of the seal are surrounded by the words ‘Seal of the State of Arkansas’. Adopted in 1907, the seal symbolizes the power of Arkansas as a U.S. state.

Diana Fritillary Butterfly

Designated the official state butterfly of Arkansas in 2007, the Diana Fritillary is a unique type of butterfly commonly found in wooded areas of eastern and southern North America. The male butterflies exhibit orange colored edges on the outer edges of their wings wings and burnt orange underwings. The females feature dark blue wings with dark underwings. The female Diana fritillary butterflyis slightly larger than the male.

Diana fritillary butterflies are mostly found in moist mountain areas of Arkansas and feed on flower nectar during the summer months. Out of all the states in the U.S. that has designated a butterfly as an important state symbol, Arkansas is the only state to have chosen the Diana fritillary as its official butterfly.

The Dutch Oven

The Dutch oven is a large metal box or cooking pot that serves as a simple oven. It was an extremely important piece of cookware for early American Settlers who used it to cook practically everything. These pots were iron cast and highly cherished by mountain men, explorers, cattle drive cowboys and settlers travelling west.

The Dutch oven was named the official cooking vessel of the state of Arkansas in 2001 and even today modern campers use the flexible and durable vessel for all their cooking needs. Americans still gather around their campfires after enjoying a delicious Dutch oven meal and share stories of their ancestors and history. 

Apple Blossom

The apple blossom is a stunning little flower that symbolizes peace, sensuality, good fortune, hope and fertility. It was adopted as the official flower of the state in 1901. Every year, an apple festival is held in Arkansas with lots of fun and games, free apple slices for the attendees and apple blossoms everywhere. 

In the past, apples were a dominant agricultural crop in the state of Arkansas but in the latter half of the 20th century, the importance of the fruit declined significantly. However, the popularity of the apple blossom remained the same.

Diamonds

The state of Arkansas is one of the few places in the U.S. where diamonds are found and the only place where people, including tourists, can hunt for them.

The diamond is the hardest substance on earth, formed over millions of years and made from densely packed carbon. While they aren’t rare, high quality diamonds can be hard to find because very few of these stones survive the tough journey from the pits of the earth to the surface. From the many diamonds that are mined every day, only a small percentage are of high enough quality to be sold.

The diamond was designated as the official gem of the state in 1967 and is a highly important gemstone in the history of Arkansas, featured on the state flag and the commemorative quarter.

The Fiddle

The fiddle refers to a stringed musical instrument used with a bow and is typically the colloquial word for a violin. A popular instrument used around the world, the fiddle was derived from the Byzantine lira, a similar stringed instrument used by the Byzantines. Fiddles played an important role in the lives of the early American pioneers at square dances and community gatherings which is why it was designated as the official musical instrument of Arkansas in 1985.

Pecans

Pecans are a popular type of nut available in over 1,000 varieties around the world. These varieties are typically named after native American tribes like Cheyenne, Choctaw, Shawnee and Sioux. The pecan has a pure American heritage and its role as a prime nut in the U.S. was honored with April declared as National Pecan Month.

The pecan was a favorite nut of both American presidents George Washington, who often carried pecans around in his pocket, and Thomas Jefferson, who transplanted pecan trees from Mississippi Valley to his home located in Monticello. In 2009, the pecan was designated as the official state nut of Arkansas mainly because the state produces over a million pounds of pecan nuts each year.

Arkansas Quarter

The Arkansas Commemorative quarter features several important state symbols including a diamond, a lake with a mallard duck flying over it, pine trees in the background and several rice stalks in the foreground.

On top of it all is the word ‘Arkansas’ and the year it became a state. Released in October, 2003, it’s the 25th coin to be released in the 50 State Quarters Program. The obverse of the coin displays a bust of the President George Washington, the first president of the United States.

Pine

A pine is an evergreen, coniferous tree which grows to up 260 ft tall and is available in several varieties. These trees can live for a long time, about 100-1000 years and some live even longer.

The bark of the pine tree is mostly thick and scaly, but certain species have flaky, thin bark and almost every part of the tree is used for various purposes. Pine cones are popular for craft work and the boughs are often cut for decorations, especially in wintertime.

The needles are also used for making baskets, pots and trays, a skill which is originally Native American, and was useful during the Civil War. In 1939, the pine was adopted as the official state tree of Arkansas.

Bauxite

Named the official rock of Arkansas in 1967, bauxite is a type of rock formed from laterite soil, a reddish clay-like material. It commonly occurs in subtropical or tropical regions and is composed of silica, titanium dioxide, aluminium oxide compound and iron oxides.

Arkansas contains the largest deposits of high-quality bauxite in the U.S., located in Saline County. During the Second World War, Arkansas supplied over 98% of all the bauxite that was mined in the U.S. for the production of aluminium. Due to its importance and the role it played in the history of Arkansas, it was designated the official state rock in 1967.

Cynthiana Grape

The Cynthiana, also known as Norton grape, is the official grape of the state of Arkansas, designated in 2009. It’s the oldest native North American grape currently in commercial cultivation.

The Cynthiana is a disease-resistant, winter-hardy grape used for making delicious wine with serious health benefits. Wine made from this grape is rich in resveratrol, a chemical found in red wine and is believed to help prevent arterial clogging, reducing the risk of heart disease.

Arkansas is one of the main producers of the Cynthiana grape in the U.S. with a rich heritage of wineries and vineyards. Since 1870, approximately 150 commercial wineries have operated in the stage out which 7 still continue this tradition.

 Check out our related articles on other popular state symbols:

Symbols of Hawaii

Symbols of New York

Symbols of Texas

Symbols of California

Symbols of New Jersey

Symbols of Florida

Symbols of Connecticut

Symbols of Alaska

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