Juicy facts to know and tell.
Apples are pome fruits, a botanical classification meaning "fleshy fruits." Pears
and quince are also pome fruits, as opposed to stone fruits, fruits with hard "stone"
pits, like peaches, plums, apricots, and cherries.
The word pome comes from the French word pomme (which means apple, also the root
of Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruits). Interestingly, the French word for potato
is pomme de terre, or "apple of the earth."
The science of apple growing is called pomology (can you guess why?).
The Number Five
The number five is important in the world of apples, and not just because apple
is a five-letter word: Apple blossoms typically form in clusters of five … an apple
blossom has five petals … Red Delicious apples usually have five bumps (lobes) on
the base of the apple … The "star" you see when you cut an apple in half is due
to the fruit's five seed cavities. Each cavity has the potential for 2 seeds, thus
10 seeds per apple are the norm.
Annual Crop Drop
Today, the annual apple crop grown in 35 U.S. states averages over 200 million bushels.
2,500 varieties of apples are grown in the United States and 7,500 varieties of apples
are grown throughout the world.
Apple and Air
25 percent of an apple’s volume is air. That is why they float.
Some apple trees will grow over forty feet high and live over a hundred years.
The average U.S. consumer eats about 19 pounds of fresh apples a year - about one apple per week.
Apples and Roses
Apples are a member of the rose family.
The Garden of Eden
We'll start at the beginning: According to the Bible, Eve's inability to resist
an apple's allure led to humanity's fall from grace.
Long before apples were cultivated, it is believed they grew wild in Central Asia
and China, as well as in Southwest Asia, where biblical historians place the Garden
Apples Throughout History
The Stone Age peoples of Europe cultivated apple trees. In 3000 B.C., the ancient
Lake Dwellers of northern Italy and Switzerland also grew apples. The Greeks and
Romans both cultivated apples. When the Romans conquered England (first century
B.C.) they brought the art of apple cultivation with them. The Spaniards brought
apples to Mexico and South America. The Pilgrims of Massachusetts Bay Colony planted
apple seeds in 1629. Pioneers brought apple trees west. Indians planted trees from
seeds they had received at white settlements.
The apple played an important role in many Greek stories. As an example, the fall
of Troy is indirectly blamed on a golden apple. All the gods and goddesses were
invited to the wedding of Thetis, the sea nymph, and Peleus, a mortal king. All
except Discord, who in her anger tossed a golden apple among the guests, saying
it was for "the most beautiful." Juno, Minerva and Venus all felt entitled to the
prize, so Paris, son of Priam, king of Troy, was asked to rule. Each of the three
tried to sway his vote with wonderful promises and Paris, forgetting for a moment
that he was married, selected Venus who promised him the fairest of women for his
wife. Unfortunately, the fairest of women was Helen, who lived in Greece with her
husband Menelaus. With the assistance of Venus, the goddess of love, Paris was able
to travel to Greece where he convinced Helen to return with him to Troy. This angered
Menelaus, who called upon the chieftans of Greece to assist him in recovering his
wife. The result? The Trojan War.
The Story of Atlanta
Then there's the story of Atlanta. Single and speedy, she said she wouldn't marry
unless a potential groom could defeat her in a running race. Milanion managed the
feat by dropping three golden apples (gifts of Venus, the Goddess of Love) during
the race. Because she stopped to pick them up, Atlanta lost the race, and became
his wife. (Although rumor has it, trust was always an issue in their relationship).
In Celtic myth, apples were considered fruit from another world. Numerous stories
speak of otherworldly women carrying off heroes found sleeping beneath apple trees.
To the Iroquois Indians, the apple tree is the central tree of heaven.
And how about William Tell? The simple shepherd people in the mountainous heart
of Switzerland were determined to resist Austrian aggressors. Gessler, the Austrian
governor, was a cruel tyrant, who asserted his power by requiring everyone who entered
the village of Altorf to bow before a cap hung high in the marketplace. Tell, accompanied
by his little son, refused to bow and was arrested. Because no one was more skilled
with a bow, and no one was more respected by the Swiss people, Tell was despised
by Gessler. Gessler offered to release Tell if he would shoot an apple from the
head of his son. But instead of missing and killing his son - as the governor had
hoped - Tell nailed the apple. Nevertheless, Gessler refused to release him. A storm
gave Tell opportunity to escape as he was being carried across the lake to prison.
If you go to Lake Lucerne, the Swiss will show you the very rock that Tell is to
have stepped upon when he leaped from the boat to escape his captors.
Johnny Appleseed spent 49 years of his life in the American wilderness planting
apple seeds to fulfill his dream of a land where apple trees blossomed everywhere
and no one was hungry. Born John Chapman September 26, 1774, in Massachusetts, Johnny
created apple orchards in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, New York, Pennsylvania and
Ohio. There is no way to estimate how many millions of seeds he planted in the hundreds
of nurseries he created in the territory lying south of the Great Lakes and between
the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. More than 200 years later, some of those trees
still bear apples.