Skip to comments.Science Traces Roots Of 'Traditional English' Apple Back To Central Asia
Posted on 02/24/2007 7:38:25 PM PST by blam
Science traces roots of 'traditional English' apple back to central Asia
By Richard Gray, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 12:30am GMT 25/02/2007
It is a taste of the English countryside, but the origins of the apple lie far from our shady orchards.
English apples can be traced back over 7,000 years
English apples are direct descendants of fruit trees growing in an inhospitable mountainous region of central Asia, plant scientists at Oxford University have discovered.
The DNA of England's famous apple varieties is almost identical to that of fruit found in the Tian Shan forest which lies on the border of Kyrgyzstan and China, Barrie Juniper, who led the research, found.
Scientists previously assumed that the apple was a hybrid of different types of fruit, including the crab apple which is commonly found in English hedgerows.
Instead Mr Juniper claims that many of the different types of apple found in Britain, including the Cox's Orange Pippin, the Discovery and the Beauty of Bath can be traced back directly more than 7,000 years to the trees of the Tian Shan.
He said: "We started off on the premise that the apple was a hybrid, but to our surprise when we began to look at everything we were collecting in Tian Shan there didn't seem to be any mixing at all.
"The extraordinary sweet apple seems to have come directly out of the Tian Shan and much of the diversity you find in English apples is already there.
"You can have a day's march through the Tian Shan and find a range of different trees. You can pluck out big, red apples that are very similar to those you would find in the supermarkets and others that have the bitter characteristics of our cider apples."
Mr Juniper, who has just completed a book about his research titled The Story of the Apple, spent 10 years attempting to trace the origins of the fruit by collecting and testing samples from around the globe.
His search eventually led him to the perilously volatile region around the Tian Shan, a mountain range that during the Cold War harboured Soviet missile test sites and is still dangerous for foreigners to visit.
He now believes that apple seeds were carried out of the forest to the West around 7,000 years ago by domesticated horses from the region that fed on the fruit.
Horses are thought to have first been tamed on the plains surrounding the Tian Shan before being used on trade routes towards Europe.
Experts have been able to track the apple's progress across the continent as the animals shed the seeds in their dung before the fruit eventually arrived in Britain in about 2000BC.
Mr Juniper claims that these original apples then flourished in the rich British soil and damp climate, where they became a valuable food source due to their high nutritional value and hardy nature.
Later plant breeders across Europe produced yet more varieties by careful cross-breeding to create the wide range of textures, flavours and colours now found across Britain.
The findings have shaken the concept of the apple as a typically English fruit.
Britain boasts more than 1,000 of its own varieties of apple and there are more than 4,000 that have been identified around the world.
Jonathan Fry, a pomologist at the Brogdale Trust, which is responsible for the national fruit collection and maintains a database of more than 2,300 apple types, said that English farmers have made the apple their own through careful breeding.
He added: "For a long time the apple was thought to be a hybrid between the crab apple and fruit from the Middle East, so finding it came directly from central Asia has surprised even some who work in the fruit industry.
"The English climate is perfect for apples and the ingenuity of the people led them to experiment with the fruit.
"There were a lot of varieties developed by breeders from those original species that arrived in Britain."
Urumchi is where the red-headed Caucasian mummies were found.
The wild horse theory seems plausible. There's even the stereotypical feeding a [domesticated] horse an apple (and a sugar cube).
If there was a wild horse theory, that would make sense, too.
He now believes that apple seeds were carried out of the forest to the West around 7,000 years ago by domesticated horses from the region that fed on the fruit.What, were they constipated? Obviously if this did in fact take place, the movement of the apple was due to the movement of humans. Mr. Juniper was either misquoted or is a numbskull.
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Heh. Dainty phrasing, that. You'd think horses had opposable thumbs...
In the language of Kazakhstan, the city Almaty (formerly Alma-ata) means 'the father of apples', and the region in the south produces some of the best apples I've ever tried. One variety is called 'aport' and puts those sawdust lumps that they sell in US grocery stores to shame.
..and the reason the English fruit couldn't be the progenitor of the Chinese variety is?
Because it wouldn't be politically correct.
It's Chinnghis Quan's fault!
"Forsline went on seven of the collecting trips, including four to central Asia. The trips resulted in at least a doubling of the known genetic diversity of apple trees, according to Forsline. The scientists returned with 949 apple tree accessions from central Asia alone. Other excursions were to China, the Caucasus region including Russia and Turkey, and Germany."
"Fazio and Forsline are most impressed with the material collected in Kazakhstan, especially accessions of Malus sieversii, an important forerunner of the domestic apple. This is logical, given that Kazakhstan is a likely ancestral origin of familiar domestic apples (Malus x domestica) such as Red Delicious, Golden Delicious and McIntosh."
How did they get to North America?
Fazio and Forsline are most impressed with the material collected in Kazakhstan, especially accessions of Malus sieversii, an important forerunner of the domestic apple. This is logical, given that Kazakhstan is a likely ancestral origin of familiar domestic apples (Malus x domestica) such as Red Delicious, Golden Delicious and McIntosh.
According to Forsline, the Kazak trees showed significant resistance to apple scab-the most important fungal disease of applesas well as to fire blight. They were highly resistant against Phytophthora cactorum, which causes collar rot, and Rhizoctonia solani, an agent of apple replant disease, according to Fazio. Both researchers found genes in the Kazak apples that allow them to adapt to mountainous, near-desert, and cold and dry regions.
Ahh so the english (maybe the Celts) came from China, velly intresting. And even a possibility. They did find red haired people buried in that region. Time for a grant !
Have you ever had a real apple? The "delicious" apples sold in supermarkets are the most misnamed fruit ever. They were bred for size, a uniform color and ability to survive a week in a boxcar without bruising -- everything but flavor.
The best apples I've ever had were from roadside stands in the Southern Appalachians. they're small, spotty, and bruise more easily, but boy howdy, do they taste good.
I assume they came from Europe as seed stock in colonial times or shortly thereafter.
Not at all! that's where we get the phrase, "horse apples!"
In recent times, though most people mistakenly use the phrase for the byproduct of horses, those who knew better have made use of the natural technique artificially, making 'seed balls' for reforestation projects.
Another consideration is that apples roll down hill (just like this thread will, most likely) and also wash downstream efficiently.
In the last hundred years, the apples from the orchards on our property have travelled proliffically (birds undoubltedly helped, too) several miles, and to a lesser extent much further, along the streambeds on down to the Cheyenne River, and probably continued on along it. Heck, our trees may have offspring all the way to the Missouri by now. Give them another 6,900 years....
Who brought the apples from Central Asia before Columbus came?
"Experts have been able to track the apple's progress across the continent as the animals shed the seeds in their dung before the fruit eventually arrived in Britain in about 2000BC."
actually this gives 3000 years for the apple to slowly be moved via feces/growth/consumption/feces cycle, which might be enough?
given that this is a DNA-related study, i would assume there are markers on some chromosomes which would establish which was the originating species/variety and any deviations. The article doesn't offer much on the DNA evidence itself, but this is one of the things that DNA studies are good for if your sample size is big enough. Notable that they authors of the study themselves had erroneous pre-conceptions going into this it appears/is alleged.
It's possible there were some wild varieties growing in the Americas at the time. Just as there are native varieties of grapes, cherries and other plants. My Google searches are turning up very little information on this, though.
That doesn't necessarily mean that somebody brought them over. Most likely IMHO they would just be remnants of earlier climactic conditions which favored the spread of those species.
Those floating wooden things our ancestors came over on?
"The wild horse theory seems plausible."
I don't disagree with you; but for me, it seems more plausible these ancient folks had their own Johnny Appleseeds rather than a herd of Johnny Applehorses.
It's nearly a quarter of the world's circumference involved, not to mention the English Channel, which horses have never been known to swim.
Particularly when constipated. :')
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Posted on 10/28/2004 10:23:27 AM EDT by blam
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...that Knight make a difference...
Why do you think they call horse manure "Road Apples?"
In days of old
when knoghts were bold,
and toilets not yet invented
they dropped their load
next to the road
and went away contented.
:') Must have been a smelly world before the Sears catalog... ;')
Thanks. I knew I'd get someone to come along and say that.
you posted this one here in the Backroom? That’s not like you, blam. ;’)
Pomologists Bite Off More Than They Can Chew With 200-Year-Old Apple Mystery
The Telegraph (UK) | 1-30-2007 | Richard Savill
Posted on 01/29/2007 6:40:07 PM PST by blam
Just updating the GGG info, not sending a general distribution.
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