THE APPLES - WILD RELATIVES OF OUR ORCHARD TREES.
The chance apple tree beside the road, with fruit too gnarly to eat, is common on roadsides throughout New England. Occasionally one of these trees bears edible fruit, but this is not the rule. Perhaps the seed thus planted was from the core of a very delicious apple, nibbled close, and thrown away with regret. But trees thus planted are seedlings and seedling apple trees "re vert" to the ancient parent of the race, the wild apple of eastern Asia. Horticulture began long ago to improve these wild trees, and through the centuries improvement and variation have stocked the orchards of all temperate countries with the multitude of varieties we know. A visit in October to Nova Scotia or to the Yakima Valley in Washington, is an eye-opener. Thousands of acres of the choicest varieties of this most satisfying of all fruits show the debt we owe to patient scientists, whose work has so enriched the food supply of the world.
The pear, the quince, and the curious medlar, with its core exposed at the blossom end—all relatives of the:apple- trace their lineage to European and Asiatic wild ancestors. The Siberian crab, native of northern Asia, is the parent of our hard-fleshed, slender-stemmed garden crabapples. Japan has given us some wonderful apple trees, with fruit no larger than cherries, cultivated solely for their flowers. The ornamental flora of America has been greatly enriched by these varieties.
Four native apples are found in American woods. Horticulturists have produced new varieties by crossing some of these sturdy natives with cultivated apples, or their seedling offspring.