To protect the fruits of their labor and thwart 'plant thieves,' early American growers enlisted artists.
In 1847, Charles M. Hovey, a stalwart of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society and the proprietor of Hovey & Co., a 40-acre nursery in Cambridge, began publishing a series of handsomely illustrated prints of American fruits. Most of the trees—apple, pear, peach, plum and cherry—had come from England and Europe. Over time, many new fruit varieties emerged from natural cross-pollinations effected by wind, birds and insects—for example, the Jonathan apple, after Jonathan Hasbrouck, who found it growing on a farm in Kingston, New York. By the mid-19th century, a few new indigenous fruit varieties had arisen from breeding, notably Hovey’s own widely admired seedling strawberry and the prizewinning Concord grape, a recent backyard production of Ephraim Bull, a neighbor of Ralph Waldo Emerson.
At the time, regional and national agricultural markets were emerging, aided by steamboats, canals and railroads. The trend was accompanied by expansion in the number of commercial seed and nursery entrepreneurs.
For more, see: How to Trademark a Fruit