Michigan - State Symbols and Nicknames

State Symbols and Nicknames

Michigan is, by tradition, known as "The Wolverine State," and the University of Michigan takes the wolverine as its mascot. The association is well and long established: for example, many Detroiters volunteered to fight during the American Civil War and George Armstrong Custer, who led the Michigan Brigade, called them the "Wolverines". The origins of this association are obscure; it may derive from a busy trade in wolverine furs in Sault Ste. Marie in the 18th century or may recall a disparagement intended to compare early settlers in Michigan with the vicious mammal. Wolverines are, however, extremely rare in Michigan. A sighting in February 2004 near Ubly was the first confirmed sighting in Michigan in 200 years. The animal was found dead in 2010.

  • State nicknames: Wolverine State, Great Lakes State, Mitten State, Water-Winter Wonderland
  • State motto: Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice (Latin: If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you) adopted in 1835 on the coat-of-arms, but never as an official 'motto'. This is a paraphrase of the epitaph of British architect Sir Christopher Wren about his masterpiece, St. Paul's Cathedral.
  • State song: My Michigan (official since 1937, but disputed amongst residents), Michigan, My Michigan (Unofficial State Song, since the civil war)
  • State bird: American Robin (since 1931)
  • State animal: Wolverine (traditional)
  • State game animal: White-tailed deer (since 1997)
  • State fish: Brook trout (since 1965)
  • State reptile: Painted Turtle (since 1995)
  • State fossil: Mastodon (since 2000)
  • State flower: Apple blossom (adopted in 1897, official in 1997)
  • State wildflower: Dwarf Lake Iris (since 1998). Known as Iris lacustris, it is a federally listed threatened species.
  • State tree: White pine (since 1955)
  • State stone: Petoskey stone (since 1965). It is composed of fossilized coral (Hexagonaria pericarnata) from long ago when the middle of the continent was covered with a shallow sea.
  • State gem: Isle Royale greenstone (since 1973). Also called chlorastrolite (literally "green star stone"), the mineral is found on Isle Royale and the Keweenaw peninsula.
  • State Quarter: U.S. coin issued in 2004 with the Michigan motto "Great Lakes State."
  • State soil: Kalkaska Sand (since 1990), ranges in color from black to yellowish brown, covers nearly 1,000,000-acre (4,000 km2) in 29 counties.

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