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Pawpaws

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Anna Hesser
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Flickr.com https://tinyurl.com/m5qtlj5

During one of the earliest European explorations of interior North America in 1541 Hernando de Soto's scribes wrote of a particular tropical-like fruit that was being cultivated by Native Americans.

When President Thomas Jefferson sent William Dunbar and George Hunter to explore the Ouachita River in 1804, Hunter recorded a small Bayou named after this plant that entered the river on the east side about a league above the mouth of Bayou Bartholomew.

Two years later as the Lewis and Clark expedition neared the end of their epic journey to the Pacific Northwest, they depended on the fruit of this plant for sustenance when their rations ran low and game was scarce.

Many of us still sing a jingle about picking up the fruit and putting them in our pocket.

 

Kelby was a biologist and manager of National Wildlife Refuges for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for more than 30 years. He has worked with alligators in gulf coast marshes and Canada geese on Hudson Bay tundra. His most recent project was working with his brother Keith of the Louisiana Nature Conservancy on the largest floodplain restoration project in the Mississippi River Basin at the Mollicy Unit of the Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge, reconnecting twenty-five square miles of former floodplain forest back to the Ouachita River.
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