In the end, okra never stood a chance.
In a vote Wednesday, the Legislature determined the watermelon is a vegetable, not a fruit. And with a stroke of his pen, Gov. Brad Henry can make it the law of the land — in Oklahoma at least.
The measure puts the highly admired watermelon in company with other state emblems such as the American buffalo, the Oklahoma rose, the scissor-tailed flycatcher, and yes, even the state fruit — the beloved strawberry.
With the governor's signature, the citrullus lanatus,
or watermelon, will be the state vegetable.
"Is watermelon a vegetable?” said Grady County watermelon farmer Jack Porter with a chuckle.
"Well, I've always considered it a bit fruity. But it works for me.”
Porter and his father, Jack L., are among a shrinking contingent of farmers who still grow watermelons in the sandy soil that encircles Rush Springs.
In Rush Springs — home to a citrullus lanatus
festival since 1948 — the issue is no laughing matter.
"No one's laughing at it down here,” said Kathy Petty, a deputy court clerk in Rush Springs. "We think it's pretty cool, actually.”
The Senate passed the watermelon bill by a 44-2 vote.
"Whether the watermelon is a vegetable or fruit, I'm not sure,” said Brent Pittman, who has farmed watermelons since 1976 in Rush Springs.