Apple: Origins

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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The large, sweet apple familiar in modern times is essentially a cultivated product, much changed from the tiny, sour fruits, such as those of the crabapple, which were its wild ancestors. The natural strategy for an apple tree, in order to propagate itself most effectively, was to produce hundreds of tiny fruits instead of a small number of large ones. The apple’s wild relatives in the rose family, e.g. the rowan and hawthorn, all do this. It was no easy task to persuade apple trees, by selection, to evolve against their natural bent to give larger apples, some of which may now weigh over 500 g (1.25 lb).