Florida Symbols

Florida, often known as the Sunshine State, is a beautiful and fascinating state with an interesting history and a still more interesting ecosystem. Its symbols reflect that, showcasing both the state's past and its present.

The official seal of Florida is particularly ornate, drawn in warm colors that highlight the sunny beauty of the state. The seal depicts a Seminole woman, a member of the Native American tribe most localized in Florida. She is scattering hibiscus flowers, one of the beautiful flowers common in Florida. Two specimens of the state tree, the Sabal palm, grow - one in the background, one in the foreground. A steamboat, most likely representing commerce, sails in front of a rising sun. The seal is ringed by the words "Great Seal of the State of Florida" along with the state motto, "In God we Trust".

The flag uses the seal as well, but adds in the background a red saltire (diagonal cross). The official reason for the cross is simply to distinguish the flag from a flag of surrender, but the red cross used has origins in Spain and, before that, in France. Known as the Cross of Burgundy, the cross with extra notches on it was used as early as the 15th century and became commonly known as a Spanish naval flag. Florida's design simplifies the lines but is clearly still influenced by the Cross of Burgundy.

Florida has a large number of official flora and fauna, representing the diversity of the Floridian ecosystem as well as its beauty. The state flower is the orange blossom which, in addition to its merits in terms of beauty, is in many ways the center of the Floridian economy - the growth of oranges is one of the main enterprises of Florida, along with tourism. The Sabal palm, mentioned before, serves as both a component of the Floridian landscape and the Floridian diet, as hearts of palms are harvested from these trees. The state animal, the Florida panther, is notable as being highly endangered, with only around one hundred currently in the wild. However, conservation efforts are steadily raising those numbers. Interestingly, Florida shares its state bird, the northern mockingbird, with four other southern states. Still, the bird is beautiful and serves as a fine symbol of the state.

With its imagery of sunlit settings and its beautiful, sun-loving plants and animals, it's easy indeed to see why Florida has gained the nickname of the Sunshine State.