Leave it to Californians though to pick on the artichoke for state vegetable. No other state can claim the honour of once having Marilyn Monroe named 'Artichoke Queen.'

Fruits and Vegetables in a State

By —— Bio and Archives--August 31, 2016

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It’s common knowledge that each of the United States has both an official flower and an official tree to represent their state. But a few have gone further and also voted a specific fruit and vegetable for the honour.

Purists have reason to question the botanical acumen of some politicians. Politics, as some more disillusioned than others have observed, surely derives from poly, meaning many, and everyone knows what a tick is.

Tomatoes, botanically a fruit, have been cited as the official vegetable of North Dakota and the Creole tomato as Louisiana’s vegetable plant. Arkansas cannily claims that the South Arkansas Vine-Ripe Tomato is both its fruit and vegetable. Tennessee gets it right, however, by naming it as their state fruit.


Both Ohio and Oklahoma have declared the watermelon as their state vegetable when, again correctly it is a fruit. But both get it right in naming the strawberry as their fruit, as does, again, Louisiana. New York claims the strawberry as its official ‘red fruit’ and the blueberry as its ‘blue fruit.’ Oklahoma also lays claim to the blueberry as its fruit, no colour specified. New Jersey, a prime producer, specifies the northern highbush blueberry. Maine prefers the wild blueberry.

Alabama, North Carolina and Kentucky, all latch onto the blackberry as a symbolic fruit.

Alabama has also declared the peach as the ‘state tree fruit’ not unsurprisingly joined by Georgia but also Rhode Island. Florida, rather unsurprisingly goes for the orange as its fruit.

Texas has to be different. The pecan (Carya illinoinensis) is not only its state tree but also the ‘state health nut.’ And yes, you read that last right. The Lone Star State also lays claim to the Texas red grapefruit, the sweet onion as its vegetable and, of course, the jalapeno as the state pepper. However, Alabama also lays claim to the pecan.

Other states that risk ribald remarks over choosing a ‘state nut’ are California (almond) and Oregon (hazelnut Corylus americana). Ohio is, of course, the ‘Buckeye State,’ so chose Aesculus glabra as both the state tree and state (inedible) nut. In Hawaii it is the kukui or candlenut (Aleurites moluccanus).

Minnesota claims the morel as the state mushroom and out in Oregon they have the Pacific Golden Chanterelle, the only two states (so far) to acknowledge a mushroom.

The apple is Minnesota’s choice of state fruit, joined in that selection by New York, Vermont and Washington. But the Rhode Island Greening apple is specified as that state’s fruit, and the Golden Delicious apple is the choice of West Virginia and the Honeycrisp apple that of Minnesota. The pear, however is the state fruit of choice for Dorothy in Oklahoma.

Several states obviously know their onions: Utah names the Spanish sweet onion, Washington the famed Walla Walla onion, and Georgia the Vidalia sweet onion, all less tear-provoking than the common yellow-skin variety.

Some states have to be different in their choice of fruit: Idaho likes the huckleberry, Arkansas the avocado, North Carolina the scuppernong grape, North Dakota the chokecherry. Utah seems the only one to have chosen the cherry but both Maryland and Wisconsin display the cranberry—hardly surprising for Wisconsin, since it is North America’s leading producer.

South of the Mason Dixon Line, both North Carolina and Louisiana selected the sweet potato as their state vegetable, South Carolina opting for collard greens. Oklahoma scores points for recognizing that black-eyed peas are actually beans as in ‘state bean,’ and New Mexico has the pinto bean as simple state vegetable.

Utah has latched onto the sugar beet as its ‘historic vegetable,’ the only state with such a designation. Naturally, Illinois’ choice of sweet corn is obvious as is the potato for Idaho (Wisconsin calls corn the ‘state grain’), but New Hampshire also claims the tuber as its state veggie and also, botanically correctly, the pumpkin as its state fruit.

Leave it to Californians though to pick on the artichoke for state vegetable. No other state can claim the honour of once having Marilyn Monroe named ‘Artichoke Queen.’


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Wes Porter -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Wes Porter is a horticultural consultant and writer based in Toronto. Wes has over 40 years of experience in both temperate and tropical horticulture from three continents.

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