In the 1630s, a pear tree went into the ground in Massachusetts. It was planted, the story goes, by John Endicott, the Puritan governor of the state. By 1852, it was already being heralded as “probably the oldest cultivated fruit bearing tree in New England.”
By now, it’s almost certainly the oldest cultivated fruit bearing tree in all of North America. It’s survived plenty of close calls, as the USDA reports:
In 1934, when the tree was just over 300 years old, it was nearly demolished by another hurricane but again it re-grew from the twisted trunk. The tree had a run-in with vandals in 1964, who chopped off all the branches and cut the trunk off 6 feet above the ground. And again it re-sprouted.
But it’s still alive — and still making pears. Not that the fruit is so good, reportedly. Inhabitat writes:
Not only is the Endicott Pear is still bearing fruit 383 years after it was first planted, but throughout the centuries it’s been recognized for its historic value by poets, historians, and even Presidents. The tree was already old in 1809, when John Adams received a special delivery of its fruit — which has been described as tart and good for baking pies, but not for eating straight off the tree.
Or, as the USDA says:
The fruit is of no particular consequence, according to U.P. Hedrick. It is medium in size, unattractive, and coarse textured.
Well you’re not exactly Angelina Jolie yourself, U.P. Hedrick. Jeez.
When Endicott planted it, he supposedly said: “I hope the tree will love the soil of the old world and no doubt when we have gone the tree will still be alive.” It did, it is, and it’ll probably outlive us all.