Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Bravo for the New Kansas State Fruit


Copyright by artist, Lyn Fenwick

Did you know that in April of 2022 Kansas Governor Laura Kelly signed House Bill 2644 making the Sandhill Plum our Official State Fruit!  Those of you who follow my blog already know that I am a great fan of the humble sandhill plum.  Past blogs have shared my jelly making, and in 2019 I entered my pastel painting titled "State Fair Jelly" at the Kansas State Fair.  It didn't win a ribbon but it garnered many comments from fellow sandhill plum lovers!

Naturally, as a sandhill plum enthusiast, I was thrilled by the Governor's choice.  But I was also surprised that Kansas had not already selected the Kansas State Fruit.  We have young Kansas students to thank for bringing that omission to the Governor's attention.  Apparently there were a few other nominees for the honor, but the sandhill plum won by a landslide.

I began to wonder what other fruits might have been chosen, and the one that quickly came to mind was the mulberry,  We had mulberries at the farm when I was a child, and because I ran around everywhere in bare feet, the soles of my feet were always stained with the purple mulberry juice that carpeted the ground under the trees.  I learned why mulberry trees spread so easily.  Mulberries are wind pollinated, they are not particular about poor soil, buds develop in later spring and are rarely affected by spring frosts, and they tolerate drought. 

My 2021 jelly making

There were other nominees, but some of those were eliminated because they were not native to Kansas.  I am certain that the early homesteaders found sandhill plums on the prairie when they arrived, because Isaac Werner, my prairie bachelor, wrote about them in his journal.  Isaac also had a peach orchard, but he planted it.  He tried to plant apples, but that was not successful, although there is a mention of one apple tree in his journal, so one tree among the dozen he ordered may have survived.  His garden also contained melons, but they were cultivated from seeds he bought.

Other native fruits existed in Kansas, but many of those are native only to a certain part of the state.  Some are very difficult to raise, particularly the PawPaw tree.  After doing the research about the few other fruits native to Kansas, I agree that the sandhill plum was the best choice--although I admit that I am prejudiced.  

This year there are absolutely no sandhill plums in our pasture.  I have seen some blooming bushes along roadsides, so I have no explanation for the absence of plums in our pasture.  We did have late snows, and I also wonder if the extremely strong winds might have interfered with pollination.  Fortunately, we still have jelly from last year's canning! 

Congratulations to local school children in our area who were part of the selection of our new state fruit!  

1 comment:

The Blog Fodder said...

A good choice. I do recall your posts extolling the virtues of Sandhill Plums. You are right that cold weather may have killed the blossoms this year. In our area apricots are very early to bloom and a frost can knock them out easily.