Friday, March 26, 2010

Champion Size Pawpaw Tree found in Kentucky

It's now official. The KY forestry service verified the measurements on a remarkable pawpaw tree specimen I recently discovered in Madison County, Kentucky. It's a whopper (refer to archive):

KY Champion Pawpaw

It was edged out for the national honors by the new national co-champions from Virginia verified in Jeff Kirwan's neck of the woods (Virginia Tech division coordinator).

The KY tree has a fabulous tasting large fruit with smaller than usual seeds and some interesting historical footnotes. Pioneers first settled in Madison County during the Boone expeditions in the late 1700s. The tree is located on a creek basin that leads to Fort Boonesboro. It's near the historical ruins of a green house built in the mid 1800s. Historically notable people from the 1800s owned the land where the current tree is growing. It's on the remnant of an old orchard property dating back to the late 1800s.

Proceeding on to the early 1900s, Central Kentucky had about four entries in the famous 1917 pawpaw tree competition sponsored by the Journal of Heredity. If anyone can tell me more about the Central Kentucky entries, and an apparent Madison County entry I would greatly appreciate it. Here's the 1917 map and the Central Kentucky entries are circled in red:

I have done quite a lot of research on this amazing tree in archives and out in the field. With KSU's assistance I plan to have DNA testing to compare this tree to a stand of trees near Fort Boonesboro with similar fruit features. My guess is that this tree originated from fruit traded at a farmer's market that was operating within 1/4 mile of the present tree and the fruit arrived from the Boonesboro area. We'll see if this theory has any factual basis.

It's my heart's desire to make this tree available to the family farmers of Appalachia. Lord willing, it will be a tree of hope for that purpose and perhaps a cure for cancer as well.