This presentation is made possible by the Pauline J. and John R. Cook Lecture Fund of the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois.

In this pre-recorded webinar, Neal Peterson, pawpaw researcher and breeder, teaches about the often-unheard-of native fruit tree, the pawpaw! Born and raised in southern West Virginia, as a teenager Neal became a self-taught naturalist of the Appalachian flora. In 1976 while in graduate school studying plant genetics at WVU, he tasted his first pawpaw fruit – and was immediately converted! He decided to domesticate them since nobody else was, hoping to bring them the popularity they deserve. For the next 22 years, this was his avocation; his vocation was working for the USDA Economic Research Service until 1998. During those first years, he explored the historic pawpaw collections of the early 20th century, collected what he found, and grew almost 1500 pawpaw seedlings. Thirty years later (and reams of data later) he selected the best seven of the 1500 and released them. Though retired, he continues his devotion to the pawpaw and continues breeding.