Portrait of an Apple Tree


Portrait of an Apple Tree
  • Posted February 24, 2015

Origins

Apples may be the iconic fruit of America, but they originated in the mountains of Kazakhstan, where their wild progenitor, Malus sieversii, still grows. Millennia of cultivation has altered the genes of the modern apple to such a degree that it is considered a new species — Malus domestica.

Personality

Apples have been a pillar of stability for the agricultural societies that have cultivated them. They ripen late in the year and can be stored and eaten through winter, a source of vital nutrients and dietary fiber to sustain the body until the first greens and berries are available again in spring.

Earthly Delights

The bible does not indicate the exact species of forbidden fruit that tempted Adam and precipitated the fall of humankind from Eden, but over time apples have been assigned to role. Hence the term Adam's Apple refers to the symbolic fruit stuck in the throat of humanity that reminds us of our susceptibility to earthly temptations.

Curiosities

Johnny Appleseed was an American legend long before he died in the mid-19th century. The popular notions of his generosity and virtuousness are well-founded, though the context of his apple plantings has been largely obscured. He established nurseries, not orchards, which were intended as a form of rural economic development. The trees that he grew from seed (as opposed to grafting) did not produce fruit suitable eating, but were used for making hard cider and applejack liquor.

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Brian Barth
About the Author

After 15 years as a professional landscape designer and horticulturalist, Brian Barth embarked on a second career to share his passion—and the knowledge he's accrued—through writing. His love of plants is all-encompassing, but he has a particular soft spot for culinary crops.


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Portrait of an Apple Tree