Feb 9, 2021
Johnny Appleseed Authentic Algeo apple tree is a bud-grafted copy

Home gardeners and orchardists across the country have an opportunity to grow a piece of early American history with the arrival of the Johnny Appleseed Authentic Algeo apple tree.

According to a news release, genetically identical copies of the last surviving tree planted by John Chapman, the real life inspiration behind the Johnny Appleseed legend, were made available for consumer purchase in December 2020.

Chapman famously planted apple trees throughout the American frontier, but his orchards were largely destroyed by old age, weather and Prohibition-era federal agents looking to end the practice of cider-making. Defying the odds, the Algeo tree had survived since the mid 1800s thanks to a family of farmers in rural Ashland County, Ohio.

“We have always considered ourselves guardians of the tree,” said Kate Harvey Algeo-Wilkins, a descendant of the family which preserved the tree and in whose honor its apple is named. “We protect it and take care of it and do the maintenance. We’re very excited to share this because John Chapman shared it with us and we are happy to pass it on.”

The tree was sampled and grafted by Jeff Meyer, founder of Johnny Appleseed Authentic, who learned of its existence in the mid-1990s while working for the 501(c)(3) nonprofit American Forests.

“I have been looking forward to this day since 1995, when I was introduced to the Johnny Appleseed tree by the Harvey Algeo family,” Meyer said. “Their eight-generation commitment to the care of the last living tree planted by Johnny Appleseed is nothing short of a miracle. I am thrilled that we can now share these authentic offspring trees so that people can plant a piece of history in their own backyard and enjoy the apples that Johnny Appleseed himself enjoyed.”

Independently authenticated by the Johnny Appleseed museum at Urbana University and the Ohio Historical Society, the tree’s rich history lives on in the form of bud-grafted, genetically identical saplings available for pre-order exclusively at shopjohnnyappleseed.com.

Growers can choose between container trees and multiple bare root options, each of which ships automatically at the ideal time for the growing zone where they intend to plant it. The tree can successfully be grown in USDA Zones 4-7, and will reliably produce fruit in any climate which receives 800 chill hours during the winter.

The tree produces firm, green apples with an occasional pink blush. They average 2.5-3.5 inches in diameter and have a very sweet taste with medium acidity.

Like many heirloom fruits, Algeo apples have not been bred for shelf stability, and taste best when eaten immediately after picking. They are also an excellent choice for cooking and cider-making. To learn more about the Johnny Appleseed Authentic Algeo apple tree, visit johnnyappleseed.com.

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