Rosa hybrid

I neglected to write down the name of this rose cultivar from the All-America Rose Selection display at Shore Acres State Park, so I suppose it will have to remain anonymous.

The idea behind today’s entry for the “biodiversity and sports” series is thanks to Ron Long, who suggested sporting events and team names. I followed up with this and researched it for my presentation earlier this week, so here’s what I discovered.

For major sporting events, there seem to be two types occasionally named after plants: thoroughbred horse races and US college football bowl games. Today’s photograph is in reference to the latter, the Rose Bowl of Pasadena, California. My observation with college football bowl games (when named after plants) is that they tend to be a plant of significance to the local area. I’m not certain of Pasadena’s connection to roses (though they certainly grow well there, and there is an excellent rosary in nearby Huntington Botanical Gardens), but other bowl games are more obvious: the Orange Bowl in Miami Gardens, Florida; the Cotton Bowl in Arlington (as of 2010), Texas; and the Poinsettia Bowl of San Diego, California (San Diego is the “home of the poinsettia”).

Thoroughbred horse races seem also to be named after plants significant to the region, though I think a few might be named after the locale. A few that I found were the Blue Grass Stakes of Lexington, Kentucky; the Apple Blossom Handicap of Hot Springs, Arkansas; the American Oaks Invitational Stakes of Inglewood, California; and the Acorn Stakes of Elmont, New York. I think my list is far from exhaustive, though.

As for team names, one stands out in professional sports. Love them or hate them, the Toronto Maple Leafs represent one of the few professional franchises to be named after plants (and I looked at hockey, football, soccer, baseball, rugby, cricket…). So I suppose I should grudgingly give them a little respect for that tidbit (though it is an obvious use of a national symbol).

I was able to locate six other franchises / college teams with plant-related names. The first three are: the Portland Timbers (though their logo is an axe superimposed on a tree…), the University of Arkansas at Monticello Cotton Blossoms (the female athletic team; the male team is the Boll Weevils), and the Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings (similar to the Timbers, more to do with harvesting plants than celebrating the plant itself.

One of my favourites to discover was the Chaminade University Silverswords, named after a group of Hawaiian endemic species exemplifying “evolution in action” (adaptive radiation). Unfortunately, while the athletics department uses the plant in its logo, the official university seal uses only the more mundane metallic weapon.

Another team name that intrigued me was Mito HollyHock, a football club (soccer) in the Japan Professional Football League, Division 2. Of particular interest is that the plant species depicted on the team’s logo (which incorporates the family crest of the Tokugawa clan) is definitely not a hollyhock (Althaea sp.). Instead, it is an Asarum, or ginger. To read more about this quirk, visit Tsukublog: The Mito Hollyhock Soccer Team Incorrectly Named!.

Lastly, the Scottsdale Community College Fighting Artichokes, named after a plant because students were upset with the college administration and decided to show their displeasure by voting for Artichokes as the team name (the other choices were the Rutabagas and the Scoundrels). Read the whole story here: Why the Artichoke?.

I invite anyone who can think of additional team names or sporting event names named after plants to add them via the comments — might be intriguing to make a semi-definitive list.

Rosa hybrid

23 responses to “Rosa hybrid”

  1. Andrew

    NZ has the ‘Silver Ferns’ as the national netball team. See:

  2. Andrea

    And here I thought the rose was for the horseshoe of roses placed around the winning horse’s neck.
    Stanford, although it is the Cardinal (color, not bird), has a coast redwood as its logo. And Modesto’s minor league baseball team is the Nuts, since California’s Central Valley is big for walnuts and almonds.

  3. Eric in SF

    Here is the Haleakala Silversword, Argyroxiphium sandwicense ssp. macrocephalum, growing at 10,000 feet on Maui:

  4. annie Morgan

    A plethora of information, the questions about which have never crossed my mind – ever. And a beautiful rose, indeed.

  5. Marian Gordin

    The Kentucky Derby is also known as the “Run for the Roses.”

  6. Lynne

    Thanks for the link to the article explaining the origins of the Scottsdale Community College’s choice of mascot, the artichoke. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  7. phillip

    …mabey i’ll name my lawn bowling team….
    the ‘Dandy-Lions’….lol…

  8. John C. MacGregor

    You’ve got to be kidding us! Talk about a sports rose, this is ‘Olympiad’, AARS winner and official rose of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. What a rose to forget!

  9. Daniel Mosquin

    Huh. ‘Olympiad’ is indeed grown at Shore Acres, so I’ll take your word that’s that what it is. What a coincidence.

  10. Adriel

    As a Californian I thought the connection Pasadena has to roses was pretty well known.
    They have the Rose Parade there on January 1st annually.

  11. Fred Bess

    Dan, what about the Georgetown HOYAS? Ok, this may actually be a native American reference, however, I’ve never seen conclusive evidence of this (it hasn’t been a top priority, though). Those of us in the botany or gardening field (IMHO) automatically think of the genus in the Ascepiadaceae!

  12. Judy

    Great write up! I used to follow sports more as a single person. Now I am married with a family, a house, and a yard that needs landscaping so I am just starting to learn about plants. How fun to see connections made between the two. Thanks!

  13. Taina

    I’ve always thought the most obvious plant-named sports team was the Ohio State buckeyes. Their mascot, “Brutus Buckeye”, actually does have a buckeye for a head. Then there’s the University of Alabama Crimson Tide, if you’re willing to count dinoflagellates.

  14. elizabeth a airhart

    red rose beautiful -the photo is kinda
    come hither all dewwy and lovely am i not
    red rose the english rugby union team
    in england the triple crown here in
    the states each park has a flower wreath
    to place around the winners neck
    i do not think any team would name itself
    the wildflowers or here come the daiseys
    thank you good series

  15. Daniel Mosquin

    Excellent suggestions — the only one so far that I recall encountering but missed in the write-up was the Buckeyes. Great to learn about the others!
    Adriel, sure re: the parade — but what is Pasadena’s connection to roses in general? It seems that it is that they grow well there as ornamentals (and not that there is an associated industry, like the other bowl game names).

  16. Crichton

    A popular football (soccer) team in Scotland is called the Buckie Thistle. They are reputed to mount a prickly defence.

  17. elizabeth a airhart

    daniel a professor charles holder named it
    the rose parade 1890 or so cant read my note
    a group wanted to call attention to the local warm weather flowers and oranges in bloom
    only carriages a first -holder looked all around
    at the fruits and flowers and said—
    let us call it the tourament of roses
    history is on line thank you

  18. Stephen J. Danko

    The first Tournament of Roses was staged in 1890 by Pasadena’s Valley Hunt Club to boast that, at a time of year when others were buried in snow, residents of Pasadena were enjoying flowers in bloom.
    The first Tournament of Roses was not a football game, but rather consisted of a variety of events such as ostrich racing. Football was added for the first time in 1902, but didn’t become an annual tradition until 1916.

  19. A. McClellan

    The “Oaks” name for a Thoroughbred horse race actually comes from a race originally run in England in 1779 and named by the 12th Earl of Derby (who also gave his name to the Epsom Derby). Oaks races involve fillies and mares, and the most famous one in North America is probably the Kentucky Oaks, run the day before the Kentucky Derby. The original race was named after The Oaks, the house the earl was living in at Epsom — presumably surrounded by trees!

  20. Eric in SF

    Daniel – California had a massive cut rose industry at the turn of the century, along with other flowers like carnations. I still visit hobby orchid growers today in the Bay Area and down in Santa Barbara who are using greenhouses originally built in the 1910s and 1920s for rose and carnation growing.

  21. Lorax

    But the Tournament of Roses isn’t a parade – it is a Canadian curling championship…. (Which are called Briers, incidentally) How could you have missed that most Canadian of sports?

  22. Karen Runyan

    Don’t know if this really is applicable but I find it hillarious that the Students at UC Santa Cruz chose the ‘honorable’ Banana Slug as their mascot. They are prevalent in the Redwood Forests up there!

  23. Deborah Lievens

    Way belated comment due to life interfering with fun. But a fabulous posting. Love all the comments and links.

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