Environment

Where Do Apples Come From Originally?

The apple tree traces its origin to Central Asia.

Apples are fruits consumed all over the world primarily due to their sweet taste. Apples can either be obtained by growing them from seedlings or by grafting them to obtain several desirable traits. Apples need to cross-pollinate to bear fruit, and thus farmers rely heavily on honey bees to pollinate the apples. Several of the world's nations produce apples with China producing more apples than any other country in the world. The origin of the apple tree is in Central Asia in Kazakhstan where wild apple trees still thrive.

Spread of Apples Around the World

Asia

Since apples already grew in Central Asia, they initially spread to the rest of the Asian continent mainly as a result of migration. Due to the proximity between Central Asia and West Asia individuals who moved to West Asia usually carried apple seeds to plant in the region. Communities also migrated to China where they are believed to have planted the fruit.

Europe

Several ancient societies in Europe included apples in their mythology indicating that they had already encountered the fruit. Cultures that told tales involving apples include the Ancient Greeks and the Norse communities. Several societies were consuming apples in present-day Greece and Italy since 2000 BCE. In England, apples already grew before the arrival of the Romans in the area. European royalty, particularly those from Britain, placed a high value in apples with King Henry VIII being famous for his orchard which had a wide variety of apples. Apples have also been depicted in European art mainly Christian works as it is believed to have been the Bible's forbidden fruit. In Europe, apples were vital since they could be stored for winter. The Europeans also valued apples since they are the primary ingredient in making apple cider, which was the most significant alcoholic drink for most Northern European communities.

Africa

On the African continent, partly due to the climate, apple trees did not grow well. However, in Egypt, several apple trees flourished by 1300 BCE and were a food source to the Egyptians. The Ancient Romans and the Greeks had strong trade ties with the North African region and during their trading activities, introduced the apples. From North Africa, the apple also spread to other parts through conquest.

North America

In North America, the only apple variety that grows naturally is the crab apple tree. In the 1600's, the Spanish and English journeyed to North America and brought apples with them primarily to make apple cider. Apples were first harvested in the US in Jamestown. Some of the varieties of apples brought from Europe were unsuitable for the American region, but new varieties soon emerged. One of America's founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, was given apple cuttings as a gift by Edmund Genet who was at the time the French minister to the United States. The apple cuttings were later donated to a nursery in Virginia leading to the creation of the Ralls Genet apple variety.

Significance of Apples

Apples are highly nutritious as they provide a wide range of minerals and vitamins to the body such as Vitamin A and potassium. Besides being good for the body, apples are a significant source of revenue to both farmers and many countries.

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