Kansas has many symbols, some of which are easily remembered like the sunflower, but others might be less known to even native Kansans. Do you know all 13 of these Kansas symbols by heart? Let’s see what things are attached to the state of Kansas, and how many you remember!
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. State Flower: Wild native sunflower
We all know and love our sunflowers, but did you know they only follow the sun until they're fully grown? Once they have their heads, they no longer need to gaze up at the skies for light.
2. State Amphibian: Barred Tiger Salamander
Salamanders in Kansas? Though I've heard many a small-town fisherman tell me they make excellent bait, I've always seen these as school pets. Named our state amphibian in 1994, these squishy little guys are fun to find if you know where to look. We used to have them wandering into our driveway back when I lived in a small town.
3. State Soil: Harney Silt Loam
Having a state soil doesn't seem too important, until you realize how much our soil type affects our farmers. Loam types of soil contain a great ratio of sand, silt, and clay, perfect for growing virtually anything. It makes sense why Kansas does so well in farming, then!
4. State Animal: Bison (American Bison/American Buffalo)
Though many incorrectly refer to these animals as buffalo, their scientific name is
bison, causing much confusion when referring to these animals. They were named as the official animal in 1955, though they were hunted nearly to extinction up until 1889. Luckily, they are no longer in danger, and you can get a good look at wild bison at the Sandsage Bison Range.
5. State Motto: Ad Astra Per Aspera
We're all familiar by now with the phrase "To the stars, through difficulties." and this phrase is all over Kansas, from businesses to the flag and state seal.
6. State Grass: Little Bluestem
Though it's a little odd that we have a state grass, it was designated in 2010 due to how abundant and vital it is to our wildlife, for both food and habitat.
7. State Bird: Western Meadowlark
Though it seems we love all things yellow, this species of bird was dedicated to Kansas in 1937. They're all over the western two-third of Kansas and have a signature sound you have to hear to love. Check fenceposts out west for a good chance of seeing these beauties!
8. State Marine Fossil: Tylosaurus
Many of us know that western Kansas used to be part of the Western Interior Seaway, where an ocean of life once lived. Over by Monument Rocks, aquatic fossils of all sorts can be found, and those include the large and terrifying Tylosaurus. Tylosaurus grew to around 45 feet long and operated sort of like a giant crocodile with fins. A normal-sized human is about the size of its head — jaws included.
9. State Insect: Honeybee
Honeybees are an important part of life all over the planet, but Kansas holds a special place in their heart for the little fuzzy bugs. They help pollinate crops and became the state insect when a petition in 1976 signed by Kansas schoolchildren passed through and named them so.
10: State Song: Home On The Range
Though many Kansans have been confused on certain lines in this wonderful song, antelope (at least pronghorn) actually used to roam throughout western Kansas almost as common as bison, but numbers today are only in the thousands. The song, composed by Dr. Brewster Higley, became our official state song in 1947.
11. State Flying Fossil: Pteranodon
Pronounced with the 'p' silent, this flying reptile once soared through the skis hunting for prey and living life as a giant pterosaur with a wingspan of 12-18 feet. Though you might not be thinking about flying reptiles when you think of Kansas fossils, they were native to this area much earlier than we were!
12: State Reptile: Ornate Box Turtle
Only two species of land-dwelling turtles live on the great plains of America and this one is not only beautiful but protected against poaching. It can completely withdraw into its shell — though that only protects it from predators and not your vehicle. If it's turtle season (April to October) and you see one on the road, safely stop your vehicle and move the turtle to the other side in the direction it was going.
13: State Tree: Cottonwood
You may not be able to tell a cottonwood tree from any other during most of the year, but we all know when they start blowing "cotton" all over everything that it catches on. Our Kansas winds blow them far and wide, helping them propagate.
What is your favorite of all these Kansas symbols? Mine has to be the sunflower for sure. I love it so much, I created a
step-by-step sunflower painting tutorial just for Only In Kansas!