Modern Domestic Apples Originated In Which Country?
Apples are so ubiquitous in so many places around the world that it’s hard to imagine life without them let alone the idea that all of them in all their varieties originated in a single place.
For decades, botanists believed that the original ancestor of the domestic apple could be traced to the region around the city of Almaty in Kazakhstan. This belief was based on the theory developed by the accomplished Russian botanist Nikolai Vavilov who posited that species had “centers of origin”. These centers would have the highest diversity of a given species and would thus indicate that the species had been there for a long time.
While that theory is sound, there was no true way to test it as it could be merely coincidental that a particular region had a high amount of diversity when in fact the species actually originated somewhere else. With the advent of genetic testing, however, researchers were able to confirm Vavilov’s theories in regard to the origin of the humble domestic apple. Through testing, it was confirmed that every cultivar of the modern domestic apple could be traced to the wild apples growing around Almaty.
We’re sure the locals were amused by the discovery as they would have been happy to tell the researchers that Almaty–and the surrounding hills filled with pockets of wild and diverse apple trees–was the birthplace of the apple: after all, the Kazakh name for Almaty, Alma-ata, means “Father of Apples”.
Image courtesy of d_pham.