Ark of Taste
George IV Peach
The George IV Peach is a white-fleshed freestone peach with a thin, tough, greenish white skin that has a pinkish blush and attractive gold and brownish-red markings. The creamy white flesh is deeply tinged with red near the stone; it has a melting texture. The George IV peach is very juicy and aromatic. The flesh is sweet and richly flavored.
The George IV Peach originated as a seedling tree around 1821 in the garden of a Mr. Gill in New York City (he lived on Broad Street, Lower Manhattan). It was named after the new British king, who was coronated in that year. In 1845 the American horticultural writer A.J. Downing wrote that George IV “is certainly the most popular peach for garden culture in the United States.”
Today this variety is virtually unknown, though it is still available from a few nurseries, and is grown mainly by private orchardists. The variety is also being maintained in the orchards at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s historic home and estate in Charlottesville, VA.
Prior to 1825, there were millions of peach trees growing in America, but almost all were propagated from seed, and there were few named varieties propagated clonally by budding, a practice that was only begun in the U.S. around the end of the 18th century. However by 1850 American nurseries were offering more than 400 named varieties for sale, and by the end of the 19th century that number had increased to more than 1,000 varieties. Ironically, this rapid proliferation of new peach varieties led to George IV becoming supplanted as a widely grown cultivar within only a few decades of its introduction.
George IV has been described as one of the three best white-fleshed peaches of all time. It was one of the first named American varieties (as opposed to broad genetic seedling types) to be identified and asexually propagated as a superior and unique cultivar. Yet today it is virtually unknown and is critically endangered.