10 May

The Origin Of The Apple

What is the origin of the apple?

There are forests of incredible prehistoric wild apple trees grown in the mountains of Kazakhstan. Apples would have appeared 165 million years. These trees can reach up to 30 meters high and their apples, with nice shapes and colors are edible, some sweet and tasty.

A small number have developed an exceptional resistance to diseases, especially the number one scourge of apple: apple scab. The trees present in Kazakhstan have a set of resistance genes that were lost during the long process of domestication of apples when they journeyed from Asia to Europe.

Are these trees the ancestors of our modern cultivated apple?

It is an academician from Kazakhstan who explored this unparalleled biodiversity. The journey of this amazing vision was bright and incorruptible, identifying, mapping and studying these magnificent trees. In adversity and underground, isolated under Stalin who was hostile to the progress of modern genetics, he dedicated his life to the study and protection of the apples.

This scientific work is of great importance today as it allowed an extensive research on resistance to parasites of the apple at Cornell University in the United States as well as Oxford, England.

Researchers in genetics and horticulture worked on genetic improvement and the creation of new varieties of quality fruit while reducing the use of pesticides. Several apple varieties have been developed, including the Ariane apple, the fruit of 30 years of research.

The apple is the most cultivated fruit tree in the world. Paradoxically, its fruit is loaded with symbolism from the beginning, it is the forbidden fruit. Countless varieties of apples are generously produced all year. The apple has been known since ancient times. Our apples are present from wild apple trees from Asia Minor to the Caucasus.

You bet, people even observed the apple tree in the Himalayas up to 3000 meters. Gradually and more recently, the apple trees have been developed into many hybrids. Crosses gave different forms of apples from what we knew. Today there are nearly 6,000 varieties of apples clearly identified. The apple tree is very old, perfectly suited to the South of the Europe, one of his favorite parts. Indeed, climate and soil make its fruits tastier and excellent for dessert or cider.

Towards the end of the Tertiary, beginning of the Quaternary about 1.7 million years ago, appeared the wild apple. Prints of wild apple leaves were found in France. About one million years ago the first primates belonging to the same family as man started to collect wild plants.

Wild apple growing in hedges or bushes provided fruit smaller and more colorful than those of the cultivated varieties. Their presence ensured good pollination of other species. The wild apple can make excellent jellies. Remains of apples have been found cut in prehistoric settlements in lake dwellings of Neolithic and Bronze Age, about 4550-750 BC.

The Celts, who invaded Gaul in the first millennium, much appreciated the apple. This fruit was a symbol in their traditions and a reward in some games, but the Romans and the Germans destroyed the power of the Celtic Druids. Their culture only survived in the kingdoms of Ireland among the invaded countries.

The culture of the apple has mainly spread around the Mediterranean. Apple was best known to Egyptian, Jewish and Greek civilizations. The winning Israelites in the exodus from Egypt, brought it in Palestine in the 19th century BC. The apple tree was among the trees that the pharaoh Ramses II planted in his garden Delta.

Olympus is a steep snow-capped peak which was to inspire fear in the Greeks. No doubt they will represent the abode of the gods as a place very light air, inaccessible and mysterious. This is where the games took place every four years, where athletes competed in tournaments to find the winner in each type of game.

Hesiod, Greek poet of the 8th century BC, teaches field work for the days and seasons of the year. There was already talking of grafting apple. For the Gauls, apple, a word of Celtic origin, was a sacred tree such as oak, probably because it is often charged with mistletoe, the sacred mistletoe revered by the Druids, and they would not play near it.

If the French name of the apple comes from the Latin word meaning fruit (pomum), it is probably because it was in this country, the most common fruit. The Romans practiced the graft. They had rich orchards on their land. Pomona was the goddess of fruits and gardens. So thanks Pomona to bring the good apple to us today.