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Astor Florida is located north of Orlando Florida between Silver Springs and Daytona Beach along Highway 40 on the St Johns
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STATE OF FLORIDA INFORMATION

On this page are a number of facts about the State of Florida, all courtesy of www.myflorida.com

 

Origin of state's name: Named on Easter 1513 by Ponce de Leon for Pascua Florida, meaning "Flowery Easter"

Florida was the 27th State to be admitted to the Union on March 3, 1845

“Sunshine State” was adopted as the State Nickname by the 1970 Legislature. Previously, official sanction for this nickname could be inferred from the law requiring use of Sunshine State on motor vehicle licenses."

FLORIDA MUSEUMS

FLORIDA NATIONAL FORESTS

STATE LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES

EXPLORING FLORIDA HISTORY

 

FLORIDA STATE SYMBOLS


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The State Flag:
Florida State Flag
The current design of Florida's state flag was adopted in 1900. In that year, Florida voters ratified a constitutional amendment based on an 1899 joint resolution of the state legislature to add diagonal red bars, in the form of a St. Andrew's cross, to the flag.
Between 1868 and 1900, Florida's state flag consisted of a white field with the state seal in the center. During the late 1890s, Governor Francis P. Fleming suggested that a red cross be added, so that the banner did not appear to be a white flag of truce or surrender when hanging still on a flagpole.
In the rewriting of the Constitution in 1968, the dimensions were dropped and became statutory language. The flag is described in these words: "The seal of the state, of diameter one half the hoist, in the center of a white ground. Red bars in width 1/5 the hoist extending from each corner toward center to the outer rim of seal."
On a white field emblazoned with a red X and the state seal, Florida's flag represents the land of sunshine, flowers, palm trees, rivers and lakes. The seal features a brilliant sun, a cabbage palmetto tree, a steamboat sailing and a Native American Seminole woman scattering flowers. Flag adopted 1899.


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The State Reptile:
Alligator
In 1987 the Florida legislature designated the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) as the official state reptile. Long an unofficial symbol of the state, the alligator originally symbolized Florida's extensive untamed wilderness and swamps. Alligators are found throughout Florida and in parts of other southeastern states. They prefer lakes, swamps, canals, and other wetland habitats.
Alligators eat fish, turtles, and a variety of other animals. In late June and early July, female alligators usually lay thirty to fifty eggs in mound-shaped nests made of reeds and other vegetation. Baby alligators hatch after an incubation period of about two months. When hatched, alligators are already fully developed and about eight inches long. Mature alligators usually range from six to twelve feet in length, with females rarely exceeding nine feet.
Because alligators are cold-blooded, we often see them sunning on logs or on banks near water. Gators can move surprisingly fast over short distances, and their powerful jaws and swinging tails make them dangerous to approach. Female alligators are particularly aggressive when guarding their nests. Alligators should not be fed, since this causes them to lose their fear of humans, and feeding is against Florida statutes.
Today, the alligator is no longer on the endangered-species list, because the reptile has successfully repopulated itself after having been over-exploited by illegal hide hunters. Alligators are now under controlled management by the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission to preserve the species and the wetland habitats that they and other Florida wildlife inhabit.


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The State Flower:
Orange Blossom
The blossom of the orange tree (Citrus sinensis) is one of the most fragrant flowers in Florida. Millions of these white flowers perfume the atmosphere throughout central and south Florida during orange blossom time. The orange blossom was selected as the state flower by the 1909 legislature.


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The State Saltwater Mammal:
Porpoise
Is it a porpoise, or is it a dolphin? Even the 1975 Florida legislature, adopting the creature as the official saltwater mammal, left the issue open, designating the "porpoise, also commonly known as the dolphin."
The terms porpoise and dolphin are often used interchangeably. Usually, they refer to the bottle-nose dolphin (Tursiops truncates), the species commonly found along Florida's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Dolphins are gray with a lighter underside. They can live to the age of thirty, occasionally attaining a length of twelve feet, although most are in the six- to eight-foot range.
Dolphins use a system of echolocation, much like sonar, to determine their orientation. They have no sense of smell. Their keen eyesight, remarkable hearing, and wide variety of sounds (barks, clicks, and whistles) make dolphins especially interesting to study.


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The State Wildflower:
Coreopsis
In 1991 the flower of the genus Coreopsis was designated as Florida's official wildflower. The state legislature made this designation after the colorful flowers were used extensively in Florida's roadside plantings and highway beautification programs. The coreopsis is found in a variety of colors, from golden to pink.


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The State Beverage:
Orange Juice
Whenever the words "orange juice" are read, written, or spoken, many people automatically think of Florida.
During the Second World War, scientists invented a process for making concentrated orange juice. Soon, a frozen concentrate was developed that transformed orange juice production into a multi-billion-dollar industry. In 1967 the Florida legislature designated orange juice as the official state beverage.


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The State Play:
Cross and Sword
"Cross and Sword," Florida's official state play since its designation by the 1973 legislature, dramatizes the story of Spanish colonization of the nation's first city, St. Augustine.
The pageant, written by Paul Green, features lavish costumes, dramatic lighting, and stirring music. It entwines the lives of some of Florida's early European settlers: Pedro Menéndez, Jean Ribault, and Father López.


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The State Seal:
Florida State Seal
In 1985, Secretary of State George Firestone presented the revised Great Seal of the State of Florida to the Governor and the Cabinet. The previous State Seal had several errors which were corrected in in the 1985 Seal. This revised Seal has a Seminole Indian woman rather than a Western Plains Indian, the steamboat is more accurate, and the cocoa palm has been changed to a sabal palm as the Legislature prescribed in 1970.


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The State Butterfly:
Zebra Longwing
Long black wings with distinctive thin yellow bands - combined with slow, graceful flight - characterize the zebra longwing (Heliconius charitonius). It has a wide range of habitats, including hardwood hammocks, thickets, and gardens. The zebra longwing is found throughout the state, although it is more common in south Florida, particularly in the Everglades National Park. In 1996 the state legislature designated the zebra longwing as the official state butterfly.


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The State Marine Mammal:
Manatee
The manatee (Trichechus manatus), also called a sea cow, is a gray, waterplant-eating, gentle giant that reaches eight to fourteen feet in length and can weigh more than a ton. It was designated the state marine mammal in 1975.
Manatees are on the endangered species list, but chances for their survival are good if humans' activities can be controlled. Of all the known causes of manatee fatalities, humans are responsible for about half of the deaths. The most-common cause of death for manatees is being struck by boats and barges. Also, the propeller blades of speeding boats can cut a manatee's hide to ribbons. The Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978 and later regulations have limited the speed of boats in waters populated by manatees during winter months, when more than 1,500 of them swim to warm bays and rivers to avoid pneumonia and death.


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The State Motto:
"In God We Trust"
"In God We Trust" was adopted by the Florida legislature as part of the state seal in 1868. This is also the motto of the United States and is a slight variation on Florida's first state motto, "In God is our Trust."


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The State Shell:
Horse Conch
The horse conch (Pleuroploca gigantea), also known as the giant band shell, has been Florida's official state shell since 1969. This shell is native to the marine waters around Florida and can grow to a length of twenty-four inches. Young horse conchs have orange-colored shells; adults have orange apertures.
At least 535 million years ago, mollusks acquired the ability to secrete a carbonate of lime solution that formed a hard, protective shell around them. The word "conch" comes from a Greek word meaning "shell."


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The State Stone:
Agatized Coral
Coral is the outside skeleton of tiny ocean animals called polyps, which live in colonies attached to hard underwater surfaces. When alive, polyps combine their own carbon dioxide with the lime in warm seawater to form a limestone-like hard surface, or coral.
Agatized coral occurs when silica in the ocean water hardens, replacing the limy corals with a form of quartz known as chalcedony. This long process (20-30 million years) results in the formation of a "pseudomorph," meaning that one mineral has replaced another without having lost its original form. In 1979 agatized coral was designated the official state stone.
Agatized coral is found in three main Florida locations: Tampa Bay, the Econfina River, and the Withlacoochee/Suwannee river beds.


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The State Saltwater Fish:
Sailfish
Sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus) are not unique to Florida; they are found nearly everywhere there is warm ocean water. However, Florida sailfishing is legendary, especially in the Fort Pierce, Miami, and Keys areas during colder months. Sailfish migrate southward as the weather chills in the north.
The sailfish can reach speeds of sixty m.p.h. The average size of sailfish found in Florida is approximately six to seven feet and thirty to forty-five pounds. (The author Ernest Hemingway landed a nine-foot, one-inch sailfish off Key West in 1934.)
The 1975 Fl. legislature adopted the Atlantic sailfish as the state's official saltwater fish.


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The State Gem:
Moonstone
United States astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin ("Buzz") Aldrin landed on the moon on July 20, 1969, aboard the Apollo 11 spacecraft. Since this and all other astronaut-controlled spaceflights had been launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Brevard County, the Florida legislature sought to memorize this "giant step" for humankind. In 1970, lawmakers adopted the moonstone as the official state gem.
Ironically, the moonstone, a form of the mineral feldspar, is not found naturally in Florida... nor was it found on the moon!


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The common mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) is a superb songbird and mimic. Its own song has a pleasant lilting sound and is, at times, both varied and repetitive. Often, the mockingbird sings all night long, especially under bright springtime moonlight.
Mockingbirds are usually about ten inches in length, with a fifteen-inch wingspan, grayish upper portions, white undersides, and white patches on the tail and wings. Female has  less whiteness in its feathers than the male.
The mockingbird is helpful to humans because it usually feeds on insects and weed seeds. In the summer and fall, it also eats ripe berries.
The nest, a joint project of the male and female mockingbird, is a bulky, open cup of grass, twigs, and rootlets carelessly arranged in a dense tree or bush. The three to six eggs per nest are a pale blue-green with brown spots. This year-round Florida resident is known for its fierce defense of the family nest.
Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 3 of the 1927 legislative session designated the mockingbird as the state bird. Not only a Florida favorite, it is also the state bird of Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas.


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The State Animal:
Florida Panther
The most endangered of all Florida's symbols is its state animal, the panther (Felis concolor coryi) which was chosen in 1982 by a vote of students throughout the state.
The Florida Panther is a large, long-tailed, pale brown cat that grows to six feet or longer. Its habitat is usually the same as that of the white-tailed deer, which is the mainstay of its diet.
Much folklore surrounds these seldom-seen cats, sometimes called "catamounts" or "painters," and they have been persecuted out of fear and misunderstanding of the role these large predators play in the natural ecosystem. Human population growth has been the primary threat to the panther's range and continues to diminish the quality of existing habitats.
The Panther has been protected from legal hunting in Florida since 1958. It has been on the federal endangered species list since 1967 and on the state's endangered list since 1973. The future of this large animal depends entirely on the management decisions that are made today on its behalf. The Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission is responsible for management and preservation of this endangered State Animal, but only with your support will the Florida Panther remain a part of our unique wildlife community.


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The State Tree:
Sabal Palm
The sabal palm (Sabal palmetto) is the most widely distributed palm in Florida. It grows in almost any soil and has many uses, including food, medicine, and landscaping. The 1953 Florida legislature designated the sabal palm as the state tree, and the 1970 legislature mandated that the sabal palm should replace the cocoa palm on the state seal.


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State Song:"The Swanee River
(Old Folks at Home)"
Stephen C. Foster wrote "The Swanee River (Old Folks at Home)" in 1851. After Foster wrote the song, he sold it to E. P. Christy, a businessman who operated a series of minstrel shows. Foster is reported to have chosen the term "Swanee" because its two-syllable cadence fit nicely into the music he had composed. The composer was not familiar with the Florida section of the Suwannee River, because he never visited the state. A memorial center at White Springs, Florida, honors Foster, who authored about 200 popular songs during his prolific career.
Representative S. P. Robineau of Miami introduced House Concurrent Resolution No. 22 in 1935, designating "Swanee River" as the official state song. It replaced "Florida, My Florida," which had been adopted as the state song in 1913. The Suwannee River flows in a southerly direction from the Okeefenokee Swamp in Georgia to the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. The river separates the Florida panhandle from the rest of the state. LYRICS


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The State Freshwater Fish:
Largemouth Bass
One of America's most-prized gamefish, the Florida largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides floridamus) seems to grow to unusually large size in Florida waters. It can reach a length of more than twenty inches and weigh more than fifteen pounds. This black bass is an elongated sunfish, whose distinguishing feature, aside from its exceptionally large mouth, is a deep notch in the dorsal fin. Largemouth bass usually live in quiet waters that contain bountiful vegetation.
The 1975 legislature designated the large-mouth bass as the official state freshwater fish.


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The State Soil:
Myakka Fine Sand
In 1989 the legislature designated Myakka fine sand as the official state soil. Myakka soil, which is unique to Florida, occurs in more than one-and-a-half million acres of flatwoods, making it the single most extensive soil in the state. Soil conservation is very important in Fl., where agriculture is a significant industry.

     
 



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