Tuesday, 07 January 2020 08:13

Pocahontas Heacham mulberry tree DNA test 'inconclusive'

Tests aiming to establish the truth of a legend claiming that Pocahontas planted a mulberry tree in Norfolk have proved inconclusive.

The Native American travelled to England in 1616 with husband John Rolfe after helping save a colonialist's life.

Legend has it she planted a mulberry tree at a manor house in Heacham, where Rolfe was from.

But DNA analysis of the tree and others have proved inconclusive.

Rolfe and Pocahontas spent 10 months in England - before her death in Gravesend, Kent, in 1617 - when it is said that while visiting her husband's family home in Heacham, she planted a tree in the area,

The tree - in the same spot, but now in the grounds of Heacham Manor Hotel - still produces fruit.

Researchers at the Forestry Commission carried out DNA research following claims by a retired Heacham resident who has extensively researched the Pocahontas legend.

It was hoped this might establish a DNA connection between the hotel's tree and other very old mulberry trees at Buckingham Palace, Syon House in west London and Narford Hall, Norfolk.

It was thought Pocahontas might have visited one of these trees and collected seeds, and research could establish whether they were forebears of the Heacham tree.

Joan Cottrell, from the Forestry Commission, said scientists had "attempted to fingerprint" eight trees "but failed to get clear results".

She said tests showed the eight trees "probably" belonged to the same clone, but that the work was "not conclusive".


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