A State Flowery Practical Joke

black-eyed susan, practical joke, state flower, MarylandWhat’s your state flower, my blog friend Karen asked her Word Shark followers this week.

That question brought to mind one of my best practical jokes (and in my humble opinion, I’ve succeeded in many).

I played this prank on my brother, back when we were both still paying off college loans, each of us newly married and living in different states. Over the past year, we had just begun to renew our slightly overlooked brother/sister status, which had faded when we went our separate ways during college, grad school, and beyond.

I don’t remember what got into me that late summer evening.  I hadn’t heard from my brother in a while, and must have wanted his attention.

I placed some pebbles in my mouth and called his phone (this was before cell phones and caller ID).1980 phone, old phone, practical joke, brother and sister

“I’m trying to reach Mr. Wight,” I announced in a high-pitched indistinguishable voice. “Mr. Wight, from Baltimore, Maryland.”

“Yes,” my brother answered hesitantly.

“I’m calling from station 1540 WNBR, and your name and number have reached us via the radio lottery.” (I made this all up as I spoke, but fortunately my brother fell for it – hook, line, and sinker.)

“If you can answer our question-of-the night, you will win one hundred dollars. Do you understand? You are on the air now, my fellow, and the right answer to our question will net you ONE HUNDRED dollars!”


“Are you ready for the contest, Mr. Wight?” I held my breath, afraid that he was on to me, but no, his voice raised an octave as he answered,

“Yes, I’m ready! What’s the question?”

Oh. Shoot. I hadn’t figured I’d make it to this part of the joke. Quick, what should I ask?

“What, dear sir, is Maryland’s State Flower?”

Gasps on the other line.

“Shit,” my bro then said indelicately.

“You may not use that word on the air,” I adlibbed, the pebbles beginning to get stuck between the roof of my mouth and my tongue.

“Oh, DAMN, wait, wait. State flower, state flower,” bro said eloquently.

“You only have 10 more seconds, Mr. Wight. 9  8  7  …”

“The Easter Lily!” my brother spat out.

Easter lily, state flower, practical joke

WHAT? The Easter Lily? That was the best he could come up with? Actually, I had no idea what the Maryland state flower was.

“You are absolutely correct!” I announced in as excited a voice as I could muster without losing pebbles. “You have won ONE HUNDRED dollars. Congratulations!”

“Damn! Good gosh darn damn,” my happy brother exclaimed. He probably said more, but I was close to swallowing a rock, so I quickly hung up.

Now what?

Monopoly money, practical joke, state flowerI ran to my old Monopoly set, the one I used to play with for hours a decade earlier, and I found a one hundred bill in play money, which I placed in an envelope, no return address, and stamped. The next morning, I mailed the joke.

Except, at 10 that night, my brother called me, miffed, moaning, and mad.

“After having no luck finding station 1540 WNBR,” he grumbled, “I called my college buddy, the one who’s lived in Maryland his entire life.”

“Oh?” I said, innocently.

“Maryland’s state flower is the Black…Eyed…Susan!!!”

Needless to say, my brother did not find my joke practical nor funny.

However, neither of us have ever forgotten the name of the Maryland state flower.

I call that a “practical” joke.

Now, do you know the name of your state flower?

38 thoughts on “A State Flowery Practical Joke

  1. You should’ve made the prize $500. Monopoly never runs out of $500 bills.

    That was a really good practical joke. I don’t think I’ll ever forget Maryland’s state flower either.

    Did your brother ever bother to get you back?


  2. That’s a great story. It says a lot about a wonderful relationship with your brother.
    I’ve lived in four states and know the flowers for three of them…Iowa is the wild rose or prairie rose, California the California poppy, and Virginia is the dogwood blossom, which is really a tree and not really a flower, but oh well…
    Texas, where I lived as a child, may have the Texas bluebonnet as its state flower, but anywhere else the bluebonnet is known as a lupine. Again…go figure.


  3. My born-in state – Delaware – is the peach blossom. But I had to look it up. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Delaware. And I had to look up current-home state flower – wild prairie rose. Funny on your brother! 🙂


    • I don’t remember seeing a lot of peach blossoms when I lived in DE, do you? A reader, above, says the state flower of Iowa is the wild or prairie rose. Hmmm. Two states with the same state flower? Somehow, that just doesn’t seem right.


  4. What a fantastic practical joke…just brilliant! When you said ‘You can’t use that word…’ wow, I laughed out loud reading that, you did well not to laugh and give yourself away. Not living in the States I don’t have a state flower, but the national flower of Scotland is the Thistle:-)


    • The THISTLE – now that sounds very…Scottish. Love it.

      And I’m also glad you liked my practical joke. Some don’t like such jokes – probably they’re the ones on the other end of them. :-0


  5. My provincial flower in the trillium. I’m reminded of them every year when they carpet the forest floor in white, pink, and wine red. Now, all you need is for somebody to phone you and ask… 😉


  6. What a funny story! It definitely shows the relationship between you and your brother. Which reminds me, it’s been a few months since I’ve spoken with my brother who lives on the west coast. Maybe I should call him with a mouthful of pebbles and see if he knows our provincial flowers! lol

    In Canada, we have provincial flowers and Manitoba’s is the Prairie Crocus. They are a beautiful purple (sometimes yellow or white), flower that blooms early in spring, but only for a few weeks before their blooms die off. British Columbia’s is the Pacific Dogwood, a good reason why we don’t go there often as I am allergic to Dogwood.

    Thanks for sharing your practical joke with us. 🙂


    • That was years ago, but believe me, my brother and I are still at it. I’m gullible enough to get caught in his practical joke web every so often. He seems to have learned more quickly! I say go ahead and call your brother with the pebbles -just be careful, they’re easy to swallow, particularly if you’re laughing!!

      Never heard of the Prairie crocus, but if it’s purple and blooms early in spring, must be a lot like the crocus we get in the East Coast. I call them the ‘happy flower,’ because they spring up even in the last vestiges of winter’s snow.


  7. LOL, I think it was a brilliant joke! Did he get the monopoly money in the mail? Or did you decide not to send it?
    Our state flower used to be the redbud, but I guess the flower of a tree wasn’t good enough, so in 2004, they changed it to a rose variety called the Oklahoma Rose. I’m so disappointed. I didn’t know this and decided to google it before I responded to you just in case ours was the Indian Paint Brush or something. Why or why do they mess with our symbols!


    • My brother got the monopoly money, but was so grumpy about it not being real, I told him to send it back to me. I’m still waiting!!! :=)

      They should NOT mess with a state flower – what was named the state flower in the 1800s should stay the same in the 21st century! That goes with the saying, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!!’ Sigh.

      That said, the name “Oklahoma rose” is sooo pretty.


      • yeah, but a rose, is a rose, is a rose – the blanket flower was original – and natively grows here. The rose I think was created for OK. 😦 I don’t know, I will have to do research. But I really don’t think that in the time of the Land Run, that there were many rose bushes lying about, they had to be brought in.


  8. Your blog is hilarious. I’ve got to follow. I could always use more funny in my life. Can’t we all?

    I just finished reading your post about Curl Free. I feel your pain. Really. Been there, done that. Okay, about state flowers…someone already commented about California’s state flower being the Poppy. I think the Matilija poppy is much more interesting and pretty, however. The petals look like wrinkled white sheets to me. The center is bright yellow, like an egg yolk. I have a nice picture of it on my website photo gallery. According to the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, it lost in a landside vote to the California poppy in 1890. boo hoo!


    • Danielle, I agree that the Matilija poppy is fantastic but I can understand why it is not the state flower. The CA poppy grows most everywhere in the state, even coming up in cracks in the patio or old bricks and blankets whole fields. The cheery liquid gold color also goes well with the motto of the Golden State. The Matilija poppy can be incredibly invasive in a favored location but it doesn’t do well in colder parts of the state. It is also extremely dependent on fire for germination. I’m trying to start some seeds now but first I have to build a fire over them. The flower, however, reminds me of the huge crepe paper flowers that were so popular in the 60s and 70s. Another name for it is fried egg flower. It is definitely a stunning CA native.


      • Wow! You know your ‘stuff’! Fascinating. I agree with you about the CA poppy – it’s almost a weed out here in the SF bay area, and beautifies highways and ‘cracks’ in concrete, even. Plus, gorgeous on our brown hillsides.


    • So glad you’ve joined me in my blog, Danielle. My brother would disagree with your calling me ‘hilarious.’ I think sometimes he calls me “Pain-in-the-butt.” Ha Ha. We have a good time together, even though he lives on the opposite coast.

      On my :Straight Hair” post, and this one, I wonder if there are ‘curly’ flowers, and ‘straight’ ones? 🙂


  9. Oh, yes. I did read that the Matilija poppy was invasive. Who needs that, even if they are pretty. The dependence on fire is frightening, considering how many fires we get.

    I picked up some California poppy seedlings at the botanic garden a few years ago and they’ve popped up in other areas of my yard every year. I do see them everywhere, as you’ve mentioned. They are both beautiful flowers.


    • At the risk of getting all pedantic here…west coast wildflowers have been my passion for years, even though I live on the east coast now. The Matilija poppy seeds will not germinate until they have been heated by fire. It’s nature’s way of assuring that there will be plants to sprout after one of those horrible fires. There are a number of flowers and trees that are fire-dependent, just as in the desert there are plants with seed coats so very tough that they will not sprout without being scraped and scratched and softened by the action of sand and gravel during a flash flood. Just two of the reasons why I find wildflowers to be so fascinating!


    • Okay, I’m back. Turns out my state flower is the rose. Who’d’a’thunk it? I hope it’s the sweet little wild roses that bloom in June, and not the overdressed, I’m-the-queen-of-all-flowers type you get on Valentines Day 🙂


      • At least your state flower isn’t the same as heylookawriterfellow Mike’s – his is the ragweed! A rose by any other name…?
        Thanks for stopping by – you are welcome here ANY time.


  10. Great story and well-told. I enjoyed it. I know our state tree is the Buckeye here in Ohio – go figure. Mark says the flower is the carnation, which sounds good to me.


    • Carnation – a real old-time, old-fashioned flower. I forgot all about the state tree. Just looked it up – CA’s is the California Redwood. Oh, duh, I should have known that!


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