City Cast

Get To Know DC’s ‘State’ Species

Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Posted on September 6
An American Beauty Rose in bloom.

An American Beauty Rose in bloom. (CurtisC Photoography/Getty Images)

Despite D.C.’s lack of statehood, we still lay claim to several “state” species, some of which make more sense than others.

State Flower: The American Beauty Rose

D.C.’s oldest state symbol, the rose was adopted in 1925. It was very popular at the time but is no longer grown commercially as it is weaker than newer breeds. It is famous for its fragrant crimson blooms.

State Fruit: Cherry

This one’s a puzzle. Cherries aren’t prolific in D.C. and the cherry blossom trees along the Tidal Basin don’t produce edible fruit, so what’s the deal? The Official Fruit Act claims cherries are symbolically associated with our namesake George Washington, but seems weak to me.

State Crustacean: Hay's Spring Amphipod

This small, blind crustacean is an endangered species that ONLY exists in certain areas of Rock Creek Park. It is hard to spot because it’s clear, shy, and makes its home in the groundwater and wet leaves by the creek bed. She’s my favorite.

Scarlet Oak tree in Rock Creek Park.

Scarlet Oak tree in Rock Creek Park. (Katja Schulz/Wikimedia Commons)

State Tree: Scarlet Oak

Shockingly not the cherry tree. This oak species is best known for its bright red autumn colors. It can be found all around D.C., including at the White House, the Capitol, along New Hampshire Avenue NW, and Rock Creek Park.

State Bird: Wood Thrush

Despite only spending five months a year in the D.C. region, this small bird makes its presence known through its distinct flute-like call. It can be found in any wooded area of the city.

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