The story of apples begins in an unexpected place: with bears. While popular culture likes to link honey with these creatures, DNA evidence shows that it might be more accurate for Winnie the Pooh to be munching on an ancestor of Red Delicious. And while apples are modern America’s second favorite fruit (after “berries”), their origins lie in ancient China. These are just some of the remarkable details that arise from Barrie E. Juniper and David J. Mabberley’s The Extraordinary Story of the Apple. Written by two leading botanical experts, it’s a complete natural and cultural history of the apple.
Using DNA evidence, Juniper and Mabberley trace the fruit’s geographical journey through time and across countries. They show how the apple has long been one of the most important fruits in the temperate regions of the world, and that it has been beloved since the times of the Persians, Greeks, and Romans. Its reach grew thanks to its reputation as a highly nutritional food source as well as one that is remarkably convenient, as the apple can be stored throughout a harsh winter or easily transported over long distances. The authors also examine the apple’s global influence on human culture. After all, it’s the fruit that played a key role in the fall of Adam and Eve, the inspiration for Newton’s Law of Gravity, and the rise of a tech behemoth.
With a nod to this book’s roots with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, chapters also cover types of apple and apple crops, grafting techniques over time, archaeological discoveries, use as a food and in cider making, as well as the latest research in apple biology. This fascinating book is illustrated throughout with color illustrations, paintings, photographs, and line drawings, and will make the ideal read for gardeners, growers, botanists, historians, archaeologists and zoologists alike. The next time you pluck an apple from a supermarket bushel, you’ll understand the millennia of human—and Ursidae—influences on that humble fruit.