Grown in Marin
University of California
Grown in Marin

Stalking rare fruit scion in West Marin

Scion stalking in West Marin
West Marin is fertile hunting ground for heirloom fruit tree varietals. Tucked away on old, now structureless homesteads, along tangled waterways, in backyards, empty city lots, roadsides and unused lands, these relics, jewels and odd varieties lie camouflaged and waiting to be reincarnated as grafted rescuees from the past. Some of the trees are “daughters” of older mother trees – cherry, peach, and of course the ever-present plum. In February, we can see where all the wild and otherwise plum are, as they are the only color in the woodland. March, you can identify peach, and by April, all the apple and pear are painting our landscapes.

John Valenzuela, president of the Golden Gate Chapter of The California Rare Fruit Growers Society and horticulturist extraordinaire, and I set out in search of wild scion between storms in late February. John is truly unique, with his amazing grafting and propagating skills, as well as having a deep interest in our local fruit tree cultivars. In his leisure time, he grafts edible fruit onto wild trees, in case he needs a bite on one of his rigorous hikes.

In the San Geronimo Valley, we found a legacy cherry, with daughter trees growing up nearby. This may be a variety worth re-introducing in West Marin. The best way to begin the selection process is to first taste the fruit. What is the flavor like? Do you like it?
 
We found abandoned plum, pear, peach, thornless blackberry, and apricot in hidden pockets from Woodacre to Inverness. It makes sense to look at these old varieties, with current interest in local sustainability trends. Becoming more independent and self-reliant on the local level should include the ongoing cultivation of food plants (in this case fruit trees) that are well adapted to Marin. We want them to like it here!
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