Just got off the phone with Tom. He mentioned an inquiry from a garden writer who is calling “blue” tomatoes “purple”.
I always thought they were purple. Eggplant purple.
A long time the potato industry decided that purple potatoes were “blue”. I suspect it’s the prevailing prejudice against “purple”.
Purple strikes people as being sort of a gaudy color…something little girls like, then when they become adults they don’t want to admit that deep down, they still like the color purple, which is a secondary color, but instead have to put on this false persona that only likes color fashionably well beyond tertiary like “taupe” and “mauve”, or better yet, colors we don’t have words for so you have to name something of a similar hue like “wheat” and “periwinkle”.
They then think they can cover up the whole sordid purpleness business by covering it up linguistically. It’s not purple, it’s “lavender”.
Talk about denial.
I often wonder how many people who refer to purple as “lavender” have ever seen lavender, which is usually a grey shade of blue.
“Blue” potatoes vary, probably according to the pH of the potato since it’s all the same pigment. Typically they’re purple just like an old-fashioned sweet potato before someone decided sweet potatoes should be orange or yellow not purple. But the purple ones are popular in Asia where they call them “ube”.
I think another issue is a longing for blue–which by the way is a primary color, but lacking particularly many blue receptors in our eyes, it doesn’t strike us as being particularly flashy. People long for blue, so they imagine it where it is not, like in Violets (and potatoes and tomatoes…).
Being the Johnny-come-lately of colors, blue is rare in flowers. Forget-me-nots are one of the few I can think of off the top of my head that are particularly common. Delphiniums can be blue. It seems like Iris should come in blue but they don’t really–though they have many close relations in the southern hemisphere that do. Blue seems commoner in the flora of the southern hemisphere than of the northern.
I come from a part of the world where true blue flowers exist–typically up in the mountains where we have Sapphire blue Gentians and sky-blue Penstemmons. We also have all sorts of exotic imports in our gardens like Cypellas, Meconopsis, Libertias, Dianellas (the flowers are blue; the berries are PURPLE), Pasithea coerulea, and one of my favorites, Tecophilea cyanocrocus, that I could just stare at all day, sighing.
What do you think? Are “blue” tomatoes blue or purple? What about blue potatoes?
…Roses are red and violets are purple
Sugar is sweet and so is maple surple
I was the seventh out of seven sons
My pappy was a pistol
I’m a son of a gun.