LANSING, Mich. — Michigan is already recognized for its apple blossoms, but what about the cherry?
Several state lawmakers want to see the cherry elevated as the official state fruit of Michigan.
More than half of U.S. states have an official fruit designation. North Dakota, for instance, recognizes the chokecherry as its official state fruit. But only Utah has bestowed that honor to the cherry.
A House bill recently introduced in Lansing seeks to change that. “The cherry is designated as the official fruit of this state,’’ House Bill No. 5574 states. It has nine sponsors and has been referred to the Committee on Government Operations.
Popular choices in other states include the strawberry, tomato (yes, it’s a fruit), peach and apple.
Let’s not discount the blueberry. North Carolina recognizes the blueberry, Maine the wild blueberry and New Jersey the highbush blueberry, as an official state fruit.
Efforts have also been made to designate the blueberry as Michigan’s official state fruit. Not surprisingly, cherries have been pitted against blueberries in this quest.
In 2015, competing bills were introduced in the state senate. One to make the cherry Michigan’s official state fruit and the other pushing the blueberry as Michigan’s official state berry.
“State symbols should represent something important and unique about Michigan,’’ a 2016 Senate Fiscal Agency report noted in reference to the two bills. “The cherry and the blueberry meet those criteria.’’
Backers of the blueberry bill noted that Michigan is the top producer of highbush blueberries, churning out 32 percent of the blueberries eaten in the U.S., according to Cultivate Michigan.
And the blueberry is celebrated in the annual National Blueberry Festival in South Haven. It has been held the second weekend of August each year since 1963.
Cherries are no slouch, either. Michigan is the leading producer of tart cherries in the U.S., accounting for about 72 percent of the nation’s production.
Cherries are celebrated in an annual festival in Traverse City. This year's National Cherry Festival is scheduled for July 4-11. The city’s first cherry festival was held in 1926.
Michigan is also known for its apples, with more than 900 million pounds of apples being produced here each year, according to Pure Michigan. To be fair, Michigan already recognizes the apple blossom as the official state flower.
Six states have the apple, or a specific type of apple, listed as the official state fruit.
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