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May 8, 2014

Apples of Eden: Saving the Wild Ancestor of Modern Apples


Malus sieversii — a wild apple that Newton describes as "small but highly colored with a very nice sweet flavor"—is one of the key ancestors of all cultivated apples grown and eaten around the world.
So rich and unique is this species, Newton says, that on one wild apple tree, "you can see more variation in apple form than you see in the entire cultivated apple crop in Britain. You can get variation in fruit size, shape, color, flavor, even within the tree, and certainly from tree to tree." Some fruit species, including wild apricot, are imperiled by overcollection of seeds by national and international plant-breeding companies. Pretty flowers can also become a liability: The pink blooms of one endangered species of wild almond from Kazakhstan, for example, are "particularly in demand for International Women's Day," according to Newton's report.
National Geographic

Posted by gerardvanderleun at May 8, 2014 8:09 AM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

Your Say

So, I am confused (no muttering from the resta you guys). Are we now to consider apples as endangered in some way? No more apple pie, which along with motherhood constitutes much of our patriotic meme? No more apple of my eye? Motts to end up a shattered empty hull of its former self?

And these other fruits, them too? I don't like apricots very much but I can sympathize with those that do.

Newton, ain't he the guy that invented the steam engine? That allowed these precious apples to fall on his head so he could write a big treatise about gravity and all like that? What does he know?

Posted by: chasmatic at May 8, 2014 9:00 AM

@pictureock, No PBS bad, people good.

Posted by: tripletap at May 8, 2014 1:27 PM

And the common name of this apple tree is...what?
Only pronounceable in Farsi?
And the ability of other "scientists" from around the world to examine the veracity of the "oooo...bad humans" thesis, where folks tend NOT to be "peaceful farmers" anymore, is...those folks will just kill you, ESPECIALLY if you're white, so NOBODY better go there.

Posted by: CaptDMO at May 8, 2014 3:31 PM

Look, a rabbit! Whenever current events get bad enough up emerges an artificial crisis. Let's all burn some candles, rally around the orchards and blame Newton for being a racist male, and start collecting money to save those poor apples. Like all the endangered species that are more important than humans these apples deserve a break.

Posted by: chasmatic at May 8, 2014 4:09 PM

I love going to the farmers market in autumn, because you can buy the heirloom apples they don't sell in any store.

Posted by: Jewel at May 8, 2014 5:27 PM

Apple Poi and cheddah cheese thank you.

Posted by: Vermont Woodchuck at May 9, 2014 6:53 AM

chasmatic: The point here is that if you select out genetic variety, you can end up with a situation like the commercial banana crop, where the Cavendish variety—basically the type you see in every grocery store in America—is threatened by one particular fungus. (You can also bring up Dutch Elm Disease; the basic line of defense has been attempting to find genetic variants that have resistance.)

Posted by: B. Durbin at May 9, 2014 1:48 PM

B. Durbin: Thank you for a serious and informative reply to what was a half-serious comment.

The article mentions that one peril is the over-collection of seeds, another that the almond blossoms are threatened by the particular high demand on International Women's Day.

I can see where if we do not exercise due diligence people will destroy plant life as we know it on our planet. I won't even mention the forestry industry or commercial alfalfa farmers. Or the hydroponics crews or the GMOs, or Agent Orange for that matter.

Posted by: chasmatic at May 9, 2014 9:33 PM

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