Friday, February 11, 2011

Asclepias physocarpus in Ft. Wayne, Indiana

Okay, I can't let this go without joining in on the fun.

Though I live in Ohio, I live near Ft. Wayne, IN, and work there part-time. To do any serious shopping, I go to Ft. Wayne. When I need to take a flight anywhere, I board the plane at Ft. Wayne International Airport (only international, thanks to their freight flights). It's only 35 miles away.

Because of our close proximity to Ft. Wayne, our local TV stations originate there. Ft. Wayne has been in the news this week, and has been the butt of jokes on late night shows, including Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Late Show With David Letterman, and The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson.

Harry Baals
A governmental building is in the process of being renovated and the city is discussing what it should be named when it reopens. In the running is "Harry Baals Government Center." Yes, that's his real name.

Harry Baals (and it is pronounced that way) was a mayor of Ft. Wayne who served three terms and died toward the end of his fourth. City officials have said they won't name the building after him because they don't want to favor one mayor over another. It makes one wonder why it was even being considered, doesn't it?

The gardening world has had its own hairy balls for years and it has been the target of jokes, too.  The fact that its botanical name is somewhat difficult to pronounce - Asclepias physocarpus - makes it not surprising that someone would come up with a common name that's easier to say and easier to remember.

Hairy balls plant

One look at the seed pods for this plant and you can see how it got its name and can understand what Harry Baals (1886-1954) must have had to endure throughout his life. It's probably a good thing he lived during a time when there was greater voluntary censorship of certain things. Lack of that today may be why his descendants now pronounce it "Bales." Can't say I blame them.


Unknown said...

Gigglesnort! Thanks for doing this...made me laugh outloud and disturb Spunky!

Elaine said...

I'm in Fort Wayne, and yes, the proposed name has been the "butt" of jokes all week. But one of our shrewd columnists pointed out that we may be missing a marketing opportunity that would immediately bring Fort Wayne to mind. Of course we're above joking about such a revered mayor's name....snicker, chortle!

Donna said...

oh Kylee no husband would not believe it until he read your post...too funny...what was wrong with his parents...Really...

Muhammad khabbab said...

Well nobody grows any asclepias where i live but just because they do not know this genus. I tried asclepias currav. (tropical milkweed) from seed and rewarded with beautiful flowers last summer. But the plant needs to be gone in our mild winters. I hope it will come back in spring.

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