by Jackie Deal
“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary”…. Well, it was more like 7 a.m. but it felt like midnight. And yes, I felt weak and weary as I peered bleary eyed into my smoothie container. I dumped a handful of beautiful red strawberries in and suddenly I wondered.
Why? Why? Why were they called STRAWberries. They don’t look like straw, taste like straw or grow in straw. Why? The answer? Of course, Google it.
Google it! What did we do before we had Google? Dictionaries, of course. Aw, yea, I must have a dictionary somewhere around. Bottom shelf. It weighs a ton. Blow off the dust. Adjust my glasses. (Such tiny print.) Recite the alphabet. And there it was, with even a teeny, tiny 1 inch by 1 inch picture. Actually Google was much better.
I suppose by now you want to know why we call them strawberries. It comes from Olde English “strewn”. The berry plants run along the ground or are “strewn” along the ground.
But wait! Google assures that strawberries are NOT a berry! Neither are blackberries or raspberries! Blueberries are berries and so, believe it or not, are BANANAS. So also is eggplant, botanically speaking, a berry, but let’s not go there.
Berries have three layers and the seeds are in the innermost layer. Strawberries seeds are on the outside and if you look closely, bananas do have seeds on the inside.
Why do we call raspberries “raspberries”? One version is that the name comes from raspise, “a sweet rose-colored wine”. What about loganberries? This one makes sense, sort of, the grower who originated it was Judge J.H. Logan when his black berries and raspberries “intermixed”. The boysenberry was named for Rudolph Boyson who created it, so no mystery there.
Then there’s the Marionberry. Did you know it was resolved by the state legislature in 2017 that Marionberry pie is the official pie of Oregon? The Marionberry was developed in Oregon as a cross between the youngberry and the loganberry. Where does the name come from? No love story here; it was named for Marion County, Oregon.
The next time you enjoy strawberries remember, you’re not having berries, just fruit.