I spent the holiday at my parents house in middle/east Tennessee and I had an experience that likely won’t lead to much, but just COULD be the kind of thing fruit tree legends are born from. You see, I had always heard about a peach Orchard that was about 45 minutes from my parents house, and since we had some spare time and wanted to get out of the house, I got my dad to ride with me to the area where the orchard used to be to see if we could find any remenants of it or whatever. Well, we did find it and about all that was left was apple trees. There were a few peach trees in the peach tree area, but it was pretty obviously that they were from seedlings which had grown up around the abandoned and now dead original peach trees.
Anyway, we saw a neighbor outside and stopped to ask him what had become of the orchard owner, etc. They said that he was still alive but was basically not mentally capable of remembering anything and he is in a nursing home and the nursing home actually owned the orchard property now to settle his bill. They said the orchard was started by this man’s grand dad in late 1800’s and was kept going until the 70’s or maybe even 80’s.
ANYWAY, here (finally) is where things get interesting. The neighbor says "well, I guess you are here looking for the “Cherokee Snowball” peach? My interest is picking up. He goes on to tell me that every few years someone from The Uniersity of Tennessee or some other researchers shows up and asks about the peach that this orchard was famous for. This neighbor is incredibly helpful and friendly and tells the rest of the story. He says that back right around 1915 the man who started this orchard heard about a “wild peach” that grew in the mountains (there are some super-big mountains about 45 minutes from this location. He says that the orchard founder went up there and fund 2 of the “wild peach trees” out in the woods. He says they were in poor condition so rather than trying to transplant them he spend 2 years pampering them by cutting nearby trees to get more sun, tilling around them, fertilizing, and pruning. Somehow, when he tilled it must have buried a lot of old seeds and the next spring lots of seedlings came up. The old guy also got some peaches (I’ll describe them in a minute) off the adult trees and went crazy over them. Since the adults were too big to move, he transplanted some seedlings with the hope that they would retain some characteristics and make decent fruit, which they did. In fact, according to the old man I was talking to, one of the most remarkable things about this peach was the fact that seedlings planted near other seedlings always produced trees that produced the same unusual, wonderful peaches. In other words, the seeds almost always were “true”.
Now, the peaches themselves were known far and wide to be very, very strange looking peaches. He swears that they are all quite small- only a little bigger than an apricot based on him showing me stones that were the size of the peaches. He said everyone called them a “white” peach and they were closer to white than yellow but not quite either. Most remarkable of all, he says, is that the seeds are much, much smaller AS A PERCENTAGE of the flesh than any other peach anyone every saw. He said they (seeds)had a very unusual shape and texture as well, But that they took up a lot less of the whole fruit (as a ratio) than normal peach seeds do. He went on and on describing this strange peach, and then came the most exciting part of all. By then we had talked almost an hour and sort of become well acquainted.I’d talked a lot about my own love of fruits and how I’m part of a group of other people (meaning you guys) who are equally devoted to growing and finding unique fruit. Right about there he says “you know, last year I potted up one of those trees to sell to some guy in a suit who had been here once and called and told me if I’d pot one up he would come get it this summer but he never did. Do you want it?”. Big Smile. Long story short he walks me back behind his house and points to the little tree in a pot. It had rooted through the drain holes into the ground pretty hard but hopefully it will be fine. The old man absolutely would not even take money, he just said if I promised to try and save this line of peaches that’s all he wanted, and maybe if I’d let him know later how impressed I was then he’d appreciate that. Of course it was a deal.
He called me an hour after I left to tell me a little more details about the peach and to make sure I understood that unlike any of the other peaches the old orchard family had ever grown, this one did not need to be grafted- quote “just one of those little tiny seeds with the pointed end down and it will make another tree just like this one”. haha
OK, we all know how time cam affect stories like these. And we all know some parts of this one almost certainly can’t be true (there are no true “wild peaches” growing in the mountains of Tennessee now or 100 years ago. Other parts of the story are unlikely or impossible. But I told you the whole, very long story because some parts- even some unusual parts- could be true or could ring a bell with you. There is always a chance that it isn’t even a peach (perhaps its some unusual plum that resembles a peach or something??. Who knows what the real truth is here. But I am 100% that the old man telling me all this was being honest and telling what HE BELIEVED to be the truth.
Anyway, this is just another one of my infamous, rambling stories. But the whole situation really does sound like the kind of thing you read about in a book or article describing how some incredible new fruit was found/discovered and I thought it was a neat story for us fruit lovers. Last but not least, I wondered if anyone had heard of a peach called “Cherokee Snowball”.? A great deal of the things he described also sounded to me like Indian Blood Peach, so it is very possible that all this thing will turn out to be is an Indian blood. But time will tell!