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Ark of TasteArk of Taste

This catalog lists all of the varied and wonderful foods in the USA that are currently on the Ark of Taste.

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Foods are listed alphabetically by the most common name used for them. In some cases the scientific name and other common names can be found in the full description of an item.

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Foods on the Ark have strong cultural and regional connections. Search your region to find which items have a history where you live.

Midwest

Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Missouri, Minnesota

Algonquian Squash

Cucurbita pepo

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The Algonquian squash (or pumpkin) originated in New England and was grown by the Abenaki people of Maine, New Hampshire and Western Massachusetts. Algonquian pumpkin was among the foodstuffs Lewis and Clark traded for with the Mandan Indians circa 1804-1806.

This oblong-shaped squash should be...

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American Native Pecan

Carya illinoinensis

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Originally renowned for their tough, difficult to crack shells, the fruits of the American Native Pecan tree are the inspiration for the tree’s name. The entomological root of pecan is ?pacane,? which comes from the Algonquin language and means ?nut so hard as to require a stone to crack.? ...

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American Paddlefish

Polyodon spathula

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The American Paddlefish (Polyodon spathula) is a paddlefish native to the Mississippi River system. It is a primitive cartilaginous fish that has remained unchanged for some 300 million years; it is closely related to sturgeon.

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American Persimmon

Diospyros virginiana

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Used by American Indians, African Americans and early European settlers, wild Persimmons are a distinctively American fruit. American Indians mixed Persimmon pulp, corn meal, and ground acorns to make breads and thick soups. African Americans used Persimmons to make sweet pudding, candy, and...

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American Spice Bush

Lindera benzoin

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The American Spice Bush is a flowering plant native to Eastern North America; from the Atlantic to Kansas, northern Florida to Ontario. It is historically prevalent in the Ohio Valley. The plant consists of a small deciduous tree or shrub, up to 16 feet tall, found in the understory of moist thickets and forests. The plant gives a small fruit, a red berry-like drupe, boasting a pronounced, especially spicy flavor.

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Amish Deer Tongue Lettuce

Lactuca Sativa

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Deer Tongue lettuce, also known as Matchless lettuce, dates back to the early 1740s, whereas the Amish Deer Tongue lettuce is variety from a later era--circa 1840. The name, deer tongue, comes from its pointed leaves that are triangularly shaped with green straight edges.

Because of its heat...

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Amish Paste Tomato

Lycopersicon lycopersicum

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This heirloom tomato was discovered in Wisconsin although its origins are in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which is the heart of the Amish Country. The tomatoes are teardrop or heart-shaped with a brilliant red orange color. The Amish Paste tomato has a balance of acid and sweetness. When it is...

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Amish Pie Squash

Curcurbita Maxima

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This squash, which is also referred to by its Latin name, Curcurbita maxima, was obtained by James Robinson from Amish gardeners in the mountains of Maryland. The oval shaped and slightly pointed squash measures up to five inches thick and can weigh up to 60-80 pounds.



The Amish Pie...

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Anishinaabeg Manoomin (Wild Rice)

Zizania Aquatica

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Wild rice is a misnomer, as it is not actually rice, but rather an aquatic grass similar to corn. This tall, aquatic grass has long blades that grow best in the shallow waters of the Great Lakes region of the US (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio). Wild rice is the only grain native to...

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Arikara Yellow Bean

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The Arikara Yellow Bean was a primary food crop for the Mandan and the Arikara American Indian tribes of the Missouri Valley?the former is the bean’s name bearer. Both its hard shell and its tendency to hold shape make the Arikara Yellow an excellent dry bean. Arikara Yellow plants are...

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Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherry

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This heirloom is not actually a cherry, but rather a small ground tomato. The fruits were recorded in horticultural literature as early as 1837 in Pennsylvania and are still common today at roadside stands in late summer. This outstanding Polish variety is prized for its clean flavor. This...

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Aunt Ruby’s German Green Tomato

Lycopersicon Lycopersicum

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The Aunt’s Ruby’s German Green is a sweet juicy tomato with a piquant bite. The heirloom is a large beefsteak type tomato that is a pale green color with a hint of yellow striping. The large tomato often weighs one pound or more. Aunt Ruby’s German Green has the wetness of a melon and can give...

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Beaver Dam Pepper

Capsicum annuum

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The Beaver Dam Pepper is a Hungarian heirloom pepper that was brought to Beaver Dam, Wisconsin in 1912 by the Joe Hussli family. The pepper’s first fruits mature 80 days after transplanting, at which point they ripen from lime-green to red. The crunchy fruits are mildly hot and when seeded,...

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Buckeye Chicken

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The Buckeye is a dual-purpose breed of chicken with a deep, lustrous red color of plumage. They have yellow legs and skin, and, thanks to their pea comb, are very cold-weather hardy. While Buckeyes adapt readily to a variety of living conditions, they do best under free-range conditions, or...

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Capitol Reef Apple

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Capitol Reef National Park is known for more than just its scenic views of geologic features and glorious hikes, it is also the home of the Capitol Reef Apple, which is cultivated onsite in the park’s historic Fruita Orchards. Fruita, which was settled in 1880, was home to no more than ten...

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Cayuga Duck

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According to local lore, the Cayuga Duck is a breed developed from a pair of wild ducks that a miller caught on his mill pond in 1809. The miller was reported to have pinioned the birds’ wings so they could not fly away and they promptly settled into life on his pond in Duchess County, New York....

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Cherokee Purple Tomato

Lycopersicon Lycopersicum

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The Cherokee Purple was rediscovered by tomato grower Craig LeHoullier. LeHoullier claimed that it was more than 100 years old, originated with the Cherokee people. The Cherokee Purple tomato has a unique dusty rose color. The flavor of the tomato is extremely sweet with a rich smoky taste....

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Cherokee Trail of Tears Bean

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The Cherokee Trail of Tears bean memorializes the forced relocation of the Cherokee Indians in the mid-nineteenth century. They carried this bean throughout this infamous walk, which became the death march for thousands of Cherokees; hence the Trail of Tears.'


In the face of its poignantly...

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Christmas Lima Bean

Phaseolus lunatus

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Historically, gastronomic accounts date the Christmas Lima Bean to the 1840s when it was especially popular in the southwestern region of the US. The bean, which is often called the chestnut Lima because of it similarity in taste to the nut, is a large—quarter sized—white, flat seed...

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Corriente Cattle

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The Corriente breed, also called Criollo, can be traced to the first cattle brought to the Americas by the Spanish explorers in the late 15th century. These cattle were chosen for their hardiness so they could survive the ocean crossing and adapt to a new land. Eventually, the descendants of...

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Delaware Chicken

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The Delaware Chicken is a dual purpose chicken that produces good meat and eggs. In 1940, George Ellis oringinally produced this chicken calling it the Indian River Chicken. This almost entirely white bird was once one of the most popular broiler chickens in its area. Starting in the late...

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Djena Lee’s Golden Girl Tomato

Lycopersicon lycopersicum

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Djena Lee’s Golden Girl tomato is a large golden orange fruit with a semi-thick skin. This tomato was developed by Djena (pronounced "Zshena") Lee, who was part Native American and the daughter of Minnesota financier Jim Lee. It was grown in the 1920s, given to Reverand Morrow when he was 15,...

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Dominique Chicken

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While the Dominique chicken breed looks similar to the Plymouth Rock breed—both have black and white barring over the entire body—the former is a moderate sized bird with a distinguishing rose comb (the comb is flat and flower-like). The Dominique’s heavy plumage protects the bird in...

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Early Blood Turnip-Rooted Beet

Beta vulgaris

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This is one of the oldest surviving varieties of table beet, having been introduced in America by 1820. One of the most popular beets of the 1800s in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, it is an all-purpose variety, round root 4 to 4.5 inches in diameter with 48 to 68 days to maturity from...

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German Pink Tomato

Lycopersicon Lycopersicum

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The German pink tomato is a Bavarian variety that is currently grown in Festina, Iowa. The plants produce large 1-2 pound meaty fruits with few seeds. The German Pink tomato has a full sweet flavor, even floral, and it is tender skinned. The tomato is an extremely versatile fruit, as it is...

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Giant Chinchilla Rabbit

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The Giant Chinchilla originated in the US. It was developed in 1921 by Edward H. Stahl of Holmes Park, Missouri. Stahl was one of the first to own a Chinchilla rabbit, a breed that had been created in France in 1913. He knew the fur industry would be taken by storm when it was introduced to...

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Guinea Hog

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The Guinea Hog is a small, black breed of swine that is unique to the United States. Also known as the Pineywoods Guinea, Guinea Forest Hog, Acorn Eater, and Yard Pig, the breed was once the most numerous pig breed found on homesteads in the Southeast. Today there are 600 registered hogs,...

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Hidatsa Red Bean

Phaseolus Vulgaris

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Oscar Will’s published his book, The Pioneer Indian Collection of Seeds in 1915. In his book, Will’s introduced the Hidatsa Red Bean to the American Public. This heirloom bean was originally obtained from the Hidatsa tribe of the Missouri River valley of North Dakota.

Traditionally, the...

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Hidatsa Shield Figure bean

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The Hidatsa Shield Figure bean gets its name from the Hidatsa American Indians of the Missouri River Valley of North Dakota. As one of the most productive dry beans, it was widely planted throughout the Missouri River Valley region. Planted with the traditional sister crops?beans, corn,...

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Hinkelhatz Hot Pepper

Capsicum annuum

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Named by its Pennsylvania Dutch* growers, the 'Hinkelhatz' is a rare heirloom pepper which translates to “chicken heart,” a description of its size and shape. The variety is one of the oldest preserved by this group of Mennonites, cultivated for well over 150 years. It was illustrated in...

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Hussli Tomato Pepper

Capsicum annuum v. Hussli Tomato

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The Hussli Tomato Pepper is a small, heavy pepper with a shape reminiscent of an heirloom tomato, and thick walls which give them their heft. When fully ripe they turn a deep crimson red, but they are enjoyed when picked before full ripeness, when fully green or just beginning to blush. Along with the Beaver Dam Pepper, the Hussli Tomato Pepper was brought to Beaver Dam, WI by the Joe Hussli family from Apatin, Hungary (now Yugoslavia) around 1912.

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Inchelium Red Garlic

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Hailing from the Colville Indian Reservation in Inchelium, Washington, this garlic is a large and beautiful artichoke variety. The dense bulb, can have anywhere from 9-20 cloves and an outer bulb wrapper that is thick for the purpose of protecting the bulb. The flavor of the Inchelium Red is...

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Inciardi Paste Tomato

Lycopersicon lycopersicon v. Iciardi

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This tomato is remarkable for its wonderful, full tomato flavor, for its full body when it is cooked down into a puree for sauce, for its size on the vine, and for the number of fruits per vine.

The Inciardi Tomato was brought through Ellis Island with the Inciardi family when they emmigrated from Sicily in the early 1900's. The family carried with them their entire food supply in the form of seeds when they arrived in the USA. Fearing that the seeds would be confiscated by the authorities at Ellis Island, they sewed them into the clothing of the family members.

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Ivan Tomato

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This tomato, which originated in Missouri, has come back twice from the brink of extinction to serve an important purpose: healing veterans with PTSD.

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Ivis White Cream Sweet Potato

Ipomoea Batatas

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Even though sweet potatoes are usually thought of as southern crop, the Ivis White Cream sweet potato is produced in the northern parts of the US from upstate New York and Maine to the rainy Washington coast?all areas where growing sweet potatoes was previously thought impossible. The potato...

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Jacob’s Cattle Bean

Phaseolus Vulgaris

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This bean is a Prince Edward Island heirloom. Legend has it that it was a gift from Maine’s Passamaquoddy Indians to Joseph Clark, the first white child born in Lubec, Maine.

It is a plump, white and red speckled, kidney-shaped bean with vivid maroon splashes. It is full-flavored, holds its...

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Java Chicken

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The Java is considered the second oldest breed of chicken developed in America. Its ancestors were reputed to have come from the Far East, possibly from the isle of Java. Sources differ on the time of origin of the Java. But they were known to be in existence in America sometime between 1835 and...

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Jersey Giant Chicken

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The Black and White Jersey Giant Chickens are true to their name, as they are the largest capon table birds produced in the US. The Jersey Giant was developed in New Jersey in the 1870s by crossing several large, Asiatic breeds, to meet the demand for caponized heavy fowl. The Black Jersey...

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Jesuit Pear

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The Jesuit Pear tree is taller than most fruit trees, resembling an oak or elm in stature. Some have been known to grow 40 feet high, with circumference of 18 ft. Historical accounts claim they grew up to 80 ft. tall and produced 40-60 bushels of pears per year...

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Jimmy Nardello’s Sweet Italian Frying pepper

Capiscum annuum

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This variety of pepper was originally from Basilicata, a southern region of Italy. It takes its name from seed saver Jimmy Nardello, who brought the seeds from Italy while immigrating to Connecticut in 1887.

This sweet pepper matures in 80-90 days from transplant, its fruits are 10-12” long...

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Lake Michigan Whitefish

Coregonus clupeaformis

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Lake Michigan Whitefish, a sub-member of the salmon family, is silvery white to blue in color, with a greenish-brown hue on its back, clear or lightly pigmented fins and large scales (slightly smaller than a dime) with thick slime protecting them. It can range from two to fourteen pounds (the...

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Lina Cisco’s Bird Egg Bean

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This tan and maroon speckled bean was brought to Missouri by covered wagon in the 1880s by the grandmother of Lina Cisco - one of the six original members of Seed Savers Exchange. An unbelievably aromatic and plump bean, its skin splits open to reveal a creamy, almost potato-like texture. Lina...

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Livingston’s Globe Tomato

Lycopersicon lycopersicum

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Livingston’s Globe tomato is a three-inch rose-red fruit with a good yield. It was created when Livingston’s New Stone and Ponderosa were crossed. Pretty and pale, it kicks you in the mouth with a lot of flavor but the taste doesn’t linger. High in acidity, it is sour and very juicy with an...

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Livingston’s Golden Queen Tomato

Lycopersicon lycopersicum

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Livingston’s Golden Queen tomato is a pale yellow medium-sized fruit that develops a pink blush on the bottom when ripe. According to Livingston, he examined a very pretty yellow tomato at a county fair. The grower gave him one and he took special care to preserve, test and improve it. After a...

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Marrowfat Bean

Phaseolus Vulgaris

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The Marrowfat Bean is a rare bush bean that was first popularized in the mid-1800s as a baking bean. Though predominately consumed in casseroles and stews, the Marrowfat has a dual-purpose as it is also used as a fresh shelling bean. The Marrowfat plant produces four to five inch-long pods that...

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Martin's Carrot Pepper

Capsicum annuum

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Martin’s Carrot Pepper is a smooth, podded relative of the jalapeño, native to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. It gets its name from its long, narrow, carrot-shaped fruit.

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Midget White Turkey

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This turkey is an example of the good breed improvement work of universities. In the 1960s Dr. J. Robert Smyth at the University of Massachusetts, created the Midget White turkey breed to meet an anticipated demand for a small turkey—capable of fitting into the smaller refrigerators of an...

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Milwaukee Apple

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This seedling apple variety is delicious whether sautéed in a savory side dish, or baked in an apple crisp. There is only one fruit bearing tree known in the state of Wisconsin, and is thus a greatly endangered species.

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Mississippi Silver Hull Bean-Crowder Cowpeas

Vigna unguiculata

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The Mississippi Silver Hull bean is a variety of Crowder pea that is intimately connected with the culture of the American South. Cowpeas originated in the Niger River Basin of West Africa and were then brought to America during colonial times, at which point they became a staple food across...

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Moon & Stars Watermelon

Citrullus lanatus

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Common names include: Cherokee Moon and Stars, Long Milky Way Moon and Stars, Moon and Stars, Pink Flesh Amish Moon and Stars, Sun, Van Doren’s Moon and Stars, Yellow Flesh Moon and Stars

A magical melon, the dark green and yellow speckled skin of the Moon and Stars watermelon evokes a living...

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Mulefoot Hog

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The Mulefoot Hog is an American breed that descended from the hogs that the Spanish brought to Florida and the Gulf Coast in the 1500s. The most distinctive feature of the Mulefoot hog is the solid hoof, which resembles that of a mule. It was bred to have a solid hoof rather than the typical...

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Narragansett Turkey

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The Narragansett turkey is named for Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island. It descends from a cross between native Eastern Wild turkeys and domestic turkeys brought by English and European colonists. Improved and standardized for production qualities, the Narragansett was the foundation of the...

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Native Chinquapin

Castanea pumila

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Chinquapins have a single nut in the burr, unlike chestnuts that have nut divisions. The chinquapin tree is excellent for fresh eating, roasting, or for wildlife food. The size of the edible nut is compared to an acorn or hazelnut.

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Norton Grape

Vitis aestivalis

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The Norton grape is the oldest cultivated American grape. Dr. D.N. Norton of Richmond, Virginia first grew the hybrid in 1820 and produced wines through the late 1800s. During this time period, Norton wines were highly valued in both the US and Europe.

Today, farming of the Norton grape is...

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Oldmixon Free Peach

Prunus persica

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The Oldmixon Free peach has a long history in the United States. Sir John Oldmixon, the peach’s namesake, first planted the variety in New York around 1817. Throughout the 1800s, the Oldmixon Free played a significant role in the American economy. Currently, it is one of the few peach...

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Pawpaw

Asimina triloba

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Though the pawpaw is generally unknown to the American public, it is the largest edible fruit native to the US. The fruit is indigenous to 26 states from northern Florida to Maine and west to Nebraska. Fossil records indicate that the papaw’s forebears established themselves in North America...

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Pilgrim Goose

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The Pilgrim Goose is thought to have come to America with the pilgrims and then named in the early 20th century by a Missouri farmer. It is a unique bird in that the sex of the bird can be distinguished by color; this is known as auto-sexing. Even when young the birds can be distinguished, as...

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Plumb Cider Apple

Malus domestica v. Plumb Cider

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Primarily a Midwest variety, the Plumb Cider apple was extremely popular through the late 1800s and the early 1900s and yet suddenly disappeared from nursery catalogs by the 1920s.

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Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter Tomato

Lycopersicon lycopersicum

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a.k.a. Mortgage Lifter, Halladay Mortgage Lifter

This tomato was developed by M.C. Byles (went by Charlie) of Logan, West Virgina in the 1930s. Charlie owned a radiator repair shop and had no plant breeding experience - this tomato was the only breeding work he ever did. Charlie took 10...

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Royal Palm Turkey

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The Royal Palm Turkey is active, thrifty, an excellent forager, and good flyer. The standard weights for these turkeys are 16 pounds for young toms and 10 pounds for young hens. Royal Palms play a valuable role on small farms, both as a producer of meat and controller of insects.

The Royal Palm...

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Salzer's Ferris Wheel Tomato

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Juicy, slightly sweet, and deliciously complex, Salzer’s Ferris Wheel Tomato shares some similarities with the typical beefsteak tomato, but with a much finer flavor.

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Shagbark Hickory Nut

Carya ovata

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The name of the Shagbark Hickory is telling of both its appearance and its utility. Mature trees are easily recognizable by their shaggy bark, as the name implies. Furthermore, the word hickory is derived from the word pawcohiccora, an Algonquin term for a ground meal made from the nuts.

The...

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Sheboygan Tomato

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The Sheboygan tomato has been grown since the early part of the 20th century in Sheboygan, Wisconsin by Lithuanian immigrants. It is a 4-6 oz. paste fruit that is good fresh or for canning. Its strong flavor is similar to other heirloom varieties rather than paste tomatoes. It has a nice complex...

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Sheepnose Pimiento

Capiscum annuum

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The Sheepnose pimiento is an Ohio heirloom plant that is a watery chile pepper with a rich meaty flavor. The pepper is filled with a mild tangy flavor and rates at 0 on a 1-5 heat scale. The Sheepnose Pimiento is generally used for canning and cooking.

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Sibley Squash

Cucurbita Maxima

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The Sibley Squash, which is also known as, Pike’s Peak, was obtained from an elderly woman in Van Dinam, Iowa who had grown it for more than fifty years. Hiram Sibley & Company of Rochester, New York introduced it commercially in 1887. It is a Hubbard type squash with moderately vigorous...

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Speckled Lettuce

Lactuca Sativa

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The origins of the Speckled Lettuce date back to 1660 in Holland. From Holland, the lettuce was brought to Germany, where it was widely cultivated. Finally in the late 1790s the Speckled lettuce was brought to North America, first arriving in Waterloo County, Ontario. The name, Speckled...

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Sudduth Strain Brandywine Tomato

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The Sudduth Strain Brandywine tomato is one of the best tasting heirloom tomatoes available to gardeners today. It has an incredibly rich, delightfully intense tomato flavor. When ripening on the vine its flesh bulges out of its skin. The tomatoes are large, pink, beefsteak fruits weighing up...

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Tennis Ball Lettuce

Lactuca Sativa

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The Tennis Ball Lettuce is a black-seeded lettuce that was one of the most popular lettuces at the turn of the 20th century. Tennis Ball lettuces grow in small tight rosettes, and have light green leaves that are silky with a slippery texture. Traditionally, Tennis Ball Lettuces were pickled...

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The American Rabbit

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The American Rabbit population is restricted to North America. Though it was developed in California, the rabbit quickly spread across the country and was a popular meat and fur rabbit up until the 1950s. It is now the rarest of rabbit breeds in America. Though originally known as the German...

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Thelma Sanders Squash

Cucurbita pepo

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Thelma Sanders Squash is a 6” vining, yellow squash which produces early and is shaped like an acorn. Besides its nutty, hearty flavor, it has a strong reputation for productivity and winter keeping ability, both of which offer food security for families who grow and enjoy this variety...

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The Silver Fox Rabbit

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The Silver Fox Rabbit is truly a multi-purposed breed whose genetic make-up has never been divulged. Today it is critically endangered with fewer than fifty annual North American registrations and there is a global population of less than 500.

The bucks can weight up to eleven pounds and does...

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Traditional Sorghum Syrup

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In 1853, sweet sorghum - a native African grass - was introduced to the US with the hopes of reducing reliance on imported cane sugars. This drought-resistant, heat tolerant member of the grass family is grown today in 26 states, and mostly in the southeastern and gulf states.

Sorghum syrup is a...

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Turkey Hard Red Winter Wheat

Triticum aestivum

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As the name suggests, ‘Turkey’ Hard Red Winter Wheat is a tall, winter hardy cultivar, grown in the Great Plains. This wheat variety has a unique, rich, and complex flavor and excellent baking qualities. Production methods used are nearly identical to those used for other hard winter...

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Watermelon Pickles

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Pickled watermelon is a unique product with a distinctive flavor. Historically made by German immigrants to Russia, the tradition of making Watermelon Pickles has been passed down through generations. The end result is a sweet juicy fruit with a spicy kick, an overall unique culinary experience.

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Wild American Elderberry

Sambucus Canadensis

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The Wild American Elderberry is a beautiful woody shrub, four to twelve feet tall, with smooth yellowish-gray branchlets, bright green leaves in feather-like arrangement, and white pith. It forms showy, fragrant cymes of white flowers in late June, followed by bright purple to black berries from late July to September. Each round, purple-black berry contains three to five small seeds and a burst of crimson juice. Because of the berries’ tartness and relative seediness, elderberries are rarely eaten fresh off of the shrubby tree. With their complex, slightly-bitter flavor, elderberries lend themselves well to a wide-variety of preparations, such as: wine, juice, cordials, extracts, syrup, jelly, jam, food colorants, vinegar, fudge, barbeque sauces, and salad dressing.This tiny black fruit yields an abundance of juice for its small size.

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