Oklahoma already has a state fruit, so legislation given final approval by the state Senate on Tuesday declares the watermelon as the official state vegetable. The measure was introduced in the state House by Democratic Representative Joe Dorman of Rush Springs, site of an annual watermelon festival in August.
State Senator Don Barrington, R-Lawton, sponsored the bill in the state Senate.
"The controversy on whether watermelon is a fruit or vegetable has been officially decided by the Oklahoma Legislature," Barrington said. He said watermelon comes from the cucumber and gourd families, which are classified as vegetables.
Others are not convinced, however. Sen. Nancy Riley, D-Tulsa, said her dictionary refers to the watermelon as a fruit.
"I guess it can be both," Barrington conceded, while adding that Oklahoma already has designated the strawberry as the state fruit.
He said Oklahoma Department of Agriculture officials had advised anyone to answer "yes" to the question of whether watermelon is a vegetable or a fruit.
The bill now goes to Governor Brad Henry.