News and Events

Botanical Buzz - Apple

Friday, March 06, 2015

An exotic traveller hidden in full view in the Sensory Gardens often escapes the attention of visitors to the Dubbo Regional Botanic Garden.

The apple (Malus domestica ) has so successfully insinuated itself into European and American cultures that our co-existence seems completely natural and unremarkable.  However, this ubiquitous and culturally important fruit may have begun its relationship with man long ago and far away, in the forests of Almaty in Kazakhstan, Central Asia. Here the fruits of its wild ancestor Malus sieversii were collected and dispersed by merchants travelling on ancient trade routes.  

Apples were cultivated in Ancient Greece and Rome and from there spread across Europe. Eventually they were transported to America by early settlers. 

Most of the European apple trees taken to America died after finding the climate inclement. It was by virtue of a remarkable feature of the apple that America was able to produce its own highly successful and numerous apple varieties. 

Apples will grow readily from seed but each new plant (wildling) will be significantly different from its parent for example the fruit may be very sour, a “spitter”. For this reason apples grown for their fruit are cloned using grafting techniques.

By propagating many wildlings, settlers were able to find varieties of apple more suitable for their climate.  Trees that produced delicious fruit were highly prized but spitters could provide a lucrative source of income. 

At the turn of the twentieth century most of the apples grown commercially in America ended up as cider. This attracted the ire of the temperance movement. Anxious to protect their livelihoods, apple growers started to promote the health benefits of the fruit using the marketing slogan “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”.

Make sure your picnic in the Dubbo Regional Botanic Garden includes an apple and take time to reflect upon its amazing history.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Dubbo Regional Botanic Garden