Exotic Origins



A

round ripe apple may not conjure up visions of remote Kazakhstan, but it should. Research now supports the belief that the native apple of that region, Malus sieversii, a tree with no common name, is the ancestor of today's apples.

The Kazakh origin of apples is more than a historic footnote. There, forests of wild apples, some growing at 10,000 feet, others in 1300 foot-deep canyons, show a wealth of diversity and resistance to disease and pests. These latter traits hold particular interest for scientists. If they could be transferred to marketable apple varieties, the chemical sprays and dusts now used in orchards could be lessened or eliminated.