Sunday, August 5, 2012

Eat a peach!

Listen to the Allman Brothers' "Blue Sky" from their classic album Eat a Peach as you scroll through these lovely depictions of summer's bounty. They're from the US Dept of Agriculture's Pomological Watercolor Collection (Rare and Special Collections, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, Maryland). Pomology is the science of fruit breeding and production.

The newly digitized collection spans the years 1886 to 1942. The 7,497 watercolor paintings, 87 line drawings, and 79 wax models were done by ~ 21 artists, many of them women. Lithographs of the images illustrated USDA bulletins, yearbooks, etc. distributed to growers and gardeners across America.
Prunus persica, a.k.a. peach. Variety: Carmen
A true "Georgia peach"
Wild Cherry Plums of the Caucasus; Prunus divaricata
Brambles (scientific name Rubus; variety: Brinkles Orange)
Further reading: Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit; and The Fruit Hunters: A Story of Nature, Adventure, Commerce, and Obsession.
Bonus image: study this well if you plan to go hiking!


  1. There's something inherently sensual about the look of a ripe peach.
    My grandfather had six peach trees that produced little fruit. Then he found out they were all female. The male cost more than the females had, but the results were decisive and rewarding.
    How one tells them apart I was never able to divine. But sex and peaches have been linked in my mind (and T. S. Eliot's) ever since.

    1. Thanks for the peachy story ... I hope we all dare to eat many peaches this summer!

  2. "Tomatoland" sounds like it could be a needed expose of what we have been doing to our most abused and popular fruit. Most know about the gassing to turn a hard green object an appetizing red, but what else have we done to insect- and bullet-proof our food?
    BTW, the scientific name for tomato is S. Lycopersicum, or "wolf peach".
    There HAS to be a story behind that!