BY J. JENKINS, OF WINONA.
The Ellison Peach, is a fruit I have carefully watched for a number of years, and in recommending it, know whereof I speak. It originated on the grounds of Robert Ellison, in an adjoining township, and is known by many in my neighborhood as the Bobby Ellison Peach. It first attracted attention from its large size in Mr. Ellison's orchard, which contained only seedling peach trees. Seeds from the original tree were preserved and planted on account of the remarkable size of the fruit, and the trees have successively borne for at least three generations, fruit identical in size, flavor, and appearance.
Another important factor that gave the fruit a prominent place, is the number of crops it has borne, when other varieties entirely failed. This has been of frequent occurrence. It is comparatively late in coming into bloom, and it may be on this account, it has escaped the frosts that have often ruined the general crop while in bloom. This year, however, it failed, or almost failed with the rest, though the trees carried some scattering fruit.
The merits enumerated, have caused nurserymen to take hold of the fruit and bud it extensively; and just here the weak point lies. The Ellison Peach, or any other fruit that reproduces itself almost identically from the seed, will have the peculiarity broken, if worked by budding or grafting. The union between root and top cannot be as complete and perfect, no matter how strong the stock, or how perfect the manipulation, as when the life of both root and top is from the single centre, the seed. And in the case of the Ellison, which naturally is as hardy as a peach can be, its vitality and individuality is weakened in the budding process, and it loses in a great measure the peculiarities that give it its extraordinary value. In size, the Ellison will be found as large as the late Crawford, ripening at about the same time; more oblong in shape, sutured, but not deeply. Rich, yellow flesh, slightly tinged with red near the stone; flesh, rich, but rather dry; holds its shape and shrinks but little in canning; bears transportation well.
L. M. Stanley, Ohio.
A word about the Ellison peach, which originated here. It is a fairly good peach, but the present year trees were very full, and fruit so small as to be worthless. It will not reproduce itself from seed, but sports, giving many varieties. I have an orchard of them that has been in bearing nine years, and although we consider the peach valuable, yet it does not equal the Smock, nor compare with a new seedling I have in size, quality or productiveness.
Reproduction from Seed
We are in receipt of a communication on the disputed point of reproduction of the Ellison peach from seed. The writer, Mr. J. Jenkins of Columbiana County, O., says:
"I was not surprised at the statement of your correspondent in your November issue in regard to the Ellison Peach, as there are in his vicinity but very few of the orchards of Ellison that have not been budded either in their present generation or their ancestry. This with the Ellison Peach and I presume with other peaches and fruits having like proclivities of reproduction, breaks their peculiarity and fixedness, and causes the wide sporting noted by your correspondent. Those trees that trace their ancestry directly to the parent trees which have always been reproduced from seeds of bearing trees, possibly may show slight variation, and all do show a marked proclivity to overbear, but do not show the wide sporting of seedlings from budded orchards of this variety."
We well remember when the Wager peach, which originated in Ontario County, N. Y., was introduced. For a number of years the claim, that it always came true from the seed, was upheld and urged in favor. Afterwards this claim was restricted to trees grown from seed coming from the original tree or its seedlings; but of late we notice, that this claim is not pushed any more or very much. There is no doubt that a fixed types of fruits is liable to reproduce itself in its direct seedlings, but, after all, there is a considerable amount of uncertainty about the character of any seedling, and sports often appear where least expected.
CybeRose note: Downing (1845) also noted the influence of grafting on the fixity of fruit trees:
"But there is still another reason for this habit, so perplexing to the novice, who, having tasted a luscious fruit, plants, watches and rears its seedling, to find it perhaps, wholly different in most respects. This is the influence of grafting. Among the great number of seedling fruits produced in the United States, there is found occasionally a variety, perhaps a plum or a peach, which will nearly always reproduce itself from seed. From some fortunate circumstances in its origin, unknown to us, this sort, in becoming improved, still retains strongly this habit of the natural or wild form, and its seeds produce the same. We can call to mind several examples of this; fine fruit trees whose seeds have established the reputation in their neighborhood of fidelity to the sort. But when a graft is taken from one of these trees, and placed upon another stock, this grafted tree is found to lose its singular power of producing the same by seed, and becomes like all other worked trees. The stock exercises some, as yet, unexplained power, in dissolving the strong natural habit of the variety, and it becomes like its fellows, subject to the laws of its artificial life."