A History of the Apple in 10 Objects: Seeds

apple seeds
Source: Aka

I know what you’re thinking – “seeds aren’t made by humans! This isn’t an object as defined by the rules of this game!” Yes, yes, I know. But we’re looking at seeds to talk about something humans do to (deliciously) interfere with the reproduction of apples: grafting.

Apples, like humans, produce offspring that can be radically different from the parent plants. They are heterozygous. This means that left alone, an apple tree will produce hundred of seedlings each a little (or a lot) different than the other. This genetic diversity allowed the apple to spread through the temperate regions of the world since at least one of those seeds had what it took to survive in new conditions. The only way to ensure that you get the same type of apple is by grafting.

Humans have been grafting plants for thousands of years, and apples may have been one of the first grafted fruits. To graft a plant, growers attach the root of one tree to the shoot of the desired fruit to clone it. It’s the only way to get reliable apple quality and consistent fruit.

The Persians, Greeks, and Romans each used grafting to produce favorite apple varieties. The Romans had at least twenty-four cultivated apple varieties, one of which, the Lady Apple, is still commonly grown and is one of the oldest known fruit varieties. It isn’t often you can get a real taste of the past, particularly one that dates back to ancient Rome.

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