New local apple tree found

Dahlia

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I can grow lots of fruit and nut trees. Can’t grow citrus. It gets just cold enough that citrus won’t survive. When I was a kid, we had grapefruit and kumquats in our back yard in Houston.
When I lived in northern California we had a tangerine bush out front that actually produced fruit! We also had almond trees, grapes, tons of apples trees, raspberries, and then lots of garden produce.
 

digitS'

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I think the way they ended up there was because the engineers driving the train were eating apples and throwing out the cores along their path! Then the trees grew! How else would you explain them?
I have noticed those locations for apple trees in the "wild" and had the same thoughts, Dahlia.

Don't blame only the engineers on those trains ;). No doubt, the passenger cars had windows that would open and then there were the hobos.

:) Steve
 

Pulsegleaner

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I heard similar explanations for why there are apparently apricot, peach and almond trees growing on random hills around the parts of California where the gold mining camps were.

I am also reminded of the time I was walking by a planter in NYC and saw what I recognized was clearly the emerging shoot of a date palm! Obviously, someone had spit their stone in there.
Around here, it's an either/ or proposition. Some of the trees almost certainly are from such random droppings, same as the odd stalk of sorghum or millet that shows up here and there were someone tossed birdseed, or the odd wheat and oat patches you see on the side of the road where they put down hay to absorb moisture where they were doing road work.
But, on the other hand, my neck of the woods has had Europeans colonization here for a LONG time, and there are undoubtedly TONS of places now grow over that were once farmsteads and houses (I know there are, you can still see a lot of the stone border walls if you look in the woods.) Those could provide another source.
 

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Another piece about antique apple trees --
The last couple years we have made apple pie from some ancient abandoned apple trees from an old orchard out in the islands around here! There are some strange varieties out there that are yummy and I have never seen before! Like ghost apples. They have white skin, but taste really sweet and crispy. There are many others that grow in those old orchards, but I don't know the variety names.
That sort of sounds like the apple I fell in love with at the Ag station at Geneva in college, the one with the odd name (I think it was marked Malus chinensis X chinensis, which would be a great help in tracking it down again except that, based on my searches online there IS no species called Malus chinensis. Maybe it was an alternate name for something else.) Those also had dead white skin and were very sweet, though not all that crispy (they were basically Golden Delicious crispy) I actually OUGHT to have a tree of them, as I saved all of my fruit seeds duly chilled them planted them and they did come up in the pot I had planted them in. Then our gardeners decided to do me a "favor" and weed those pots clean of any plants.)

There were a few apples I saw there that would have been nice for my property. There was the Iowa Tanner's Crabapple. While utterly inedible (it's called a Tanner's because you can actually use the juice to make leather) they were extremely cute, like green "chinned" (that pointy bumpy bottom bit some apples like Red Delicious get) apples for a doll's table.
And, for anyone who has seen those new "red" apples with the pink streaked flesh, up there they have a Kazakh wild one whose flesh is BLOOD RED through and through.

The problem with getting any of these, of course, is that, while the Ag station is happy to send to anyone who requests from them (just like any other USDA seedbank)1. You have to know what you are asking for and 2. What they would send would be scions and, as I said, I suck at grafting.
 

flowerbug

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We have a good path that we use to go for long walks. It was an old railroad line from the 40s or 50s. Now the railroad ties have been removed and gravel put down to make a lovely trail. It is interesting because in spots along the trail there are these random apple trees that are found all along the old rail line. The rest of the foliage is just forest. Anyway, there are small apples still growing on these old trees! I think the way they ended up there was because the engineers driving the train were eating apples and throwing out the cores along their path! Then the trees grew! How else would you explain them? There is no orchard or private land there. Just an old railroad trail! I think it's neat and like to imagine the train going through there so many years ago!

possibly deer transportation, eating apples from around trees and then pooing the seeds out later.

still i like to think of your hypothesis since i do enjoy railroads and trains. if it was ever a passenger train perhaps the passengers were also throwing their apple cores overboard too?
 

Dahlia

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That sort of sounds like the apple I fell in love with at the Ag station at Geneva in college, the one with the odd name (I think it was marked Malus chinensis X chinensis, which would be a great help in tracking it down again except that, based on my searches online there IS no species called Malus chinensis. Maybe it was an alternate name for something else.) Those also had dead white skin and were very sweet, though not all that crispy (they were basically Golden Delicious crispy) I actually OUGHT to have a tree of them, as I saved all of my fruit seeds duly chilled them planted them and they did come up in the pot I had planted them in. Then our gardeners decided to do me a "favor" and weed those pots clean of any plants.)

There were a few apples I saw there that would have been nice for my property. There was the Iowa Tanner's Crabapple. While utterly inedible (it's called a Tanner's because you can actually use the juice to make leather) they were extremely cute, like green "chinned" (that pointy bumpy bottom bit some apples like Red Delicious get) apples for a doll's table.
And, for anyone who has seen those new "red" apples with the pink streaked flesh, up there they have a Kazakh wild one whose flesh is BLOOD RED through and through.

The problem with getting any of these, of course, is that, while the Ag station is happy to send to anyone who requests from them (just like any other USDA seedbank)1. You have to know what you are asking for and 2. What they would send would be scions and, as I said, I suck at grafting.
Wow! That Kazakh apple sounds amazing with the deep red inside! I love how there are so many variaties of everything!
 

ducks4you

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The gnarled part sounds like volunteer apple trees. I received/have read a 1970's college textbook, "Fruittree Growing," or something like that--not gonna go upstairs and check the title.
I discovered that all fruit trees that you buy are grafted onto another apple tree rootstock, and have been for decades, if not longer.
If there are crabapple trees on public land, the land was probably a former apple orchard bc crabapples will pollinate most other apple trees.
Fruit tree nurserys still recommend planting one crabapple amongst several other kinds of apple trees to ensure pollination.
 

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Wow! That Kazakh apple sounds amazing with the deep red inside! I love how there are so many variaties of everything!
Well, it LOOKED spectacular; being wild, it TASTED like crap (too sour to eat as a hand fruit, but might have been good for making red cider.)

The gnarled part sounds like volunteer apple trees. I received/have read a 1970's college textbook, "Fruittree Growing," or something like that--not gonna go upstairs and check the title.
I discovered that all fruit trees that you buy are grafted onto another apple tree rootstock, and have been for decades, if not longer.
If there are crabapple trees on public land, the land was probably a former apple orchard bc crabapples will pollinate most other apple trees.
Fruit tree nurserys still recommend planting one crabapple amongst several other kinds of apple trees to ensure pollination.
That would sound likely, though even grafted trees get gnarled if you let them grow long enough. The reason this doesn't happen much in modern orchards is that a lot of orchards cut everything to the ground every ten years or so and simply graft back onto the stumps (this also keeps the trees short enough you can harvest them without machinery. The cut off wood can always be sold to people who need it for smoking meats (in fact, according to someone I knew in college who worked in an orchard, an orchardist who forgets to cut everything to the ground and lets his trees get big is jokingly said to be "growing for the smokers")

Such and origin is possible, but, given how many small fruited crabapple trees are planted in yards and public places for their flowers, it is equally possible that the short ones are the decedents of park fruits the birds ate and then pooped. And if the big one IS grafted, I'd LOVE to know the rootstock of a crabapple tree that could grow 20-30 feet straight up WITHOUT twisting (remember, that tree is in the middle of nowhere (I'm not sure even the village knew about it until they opened the path) so NO ONE has been tending or trimming it for god know how long.)

The pollinator thing resonates with me particularly today, as I was at the market today and trying to get some good blood oranges. Like apples, oranges also need two genetically distinct lines to produce a good fruit set. So, nowadays, the big fruit sellers, like Sunkist, will plant the odd different tree in the orchard for crossing. With blood oranges, this is usually one of the older "Moro" kind trees, while the bulk are the newer "Tangier" type blood oranges. The funny thing is that, at harvest they toss ALL the fruit into the same basket, both the major crop and whatever fruit the pollinators made as well (since the pollination goes both ways, of course) So when you go to the supermarket you find these massive piles of Tangiers with the Sunkist label with one or two Moros mixes in. Of course, in my case I like Moros and HATE Tangiers (they're too acidic for me), so I got looking for the few in the pile (the best way to tell is like this. If the fruit looks mostly like an ordinary bumpy orange with a red blush on one side of the rind that's a Tangiers, which have blushed flesh. Moros are smooth and shiny, will have a darkening all over the rind (in a really good one, the rind is the color of chocolate) and the "oil pits" on the rind (especially in the darker parts) will be green, not orange (and very visible). THOSE are the old time kind, blood red to purple flesh, slightly elongated, and with that bitter raspberry note to them.
 

Zeedman

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There used to be a wild crab-type apple tree growing along the fence nearby, between the freeway & a restaurant parking lot. The apples were nothing special flavor wise; but so fragrant that when they were ripe, I would keep one on my dashboard... it would perfume the car for a week. I had hoped to graft a couple branches onto my apple tree; but before I could do so, the parking lot was re-done & the wild tree cut down. :(

I've several times gone through SSE's preservation orchard, in the course of my visits. Since this was in September, I could sample whatever apples were still remaining (the early ones had fallen by then). I remember seeing a really loaded crab tree, with few pest or disease issues, and deep red flesh. I remember that SSE once offered it as a grafted-to-order... and wish I had ordered it. I know I have written notes of that variety, I'll post the name here if I find them.

I'm not surprised to hear your mention of the Ag station at Geneva, @Pulsegleaner . I had considered mentioning that to you, it sounds like a place well suited to someone of your knowledge & passion.
 

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There used to be a wild crab-type apple tree growing along the fence nearby, between the freeway & a restaurant parking lot. The apples were nothing special flavor wise; but so fragrant that when they were ripe, I would keep one on my dashboard... it would perfume the car for a week. I had hoped to graft a couple branches onto my apple tree; but before I could do so, the parking lot was re-done & the wild tree cut down. :(
Your story reminds me of my college time at Cornell. At the time I was there, there was not one but TWO wild plum trees I had access to (there were also a TON of apple trees, including the impossible one*, but, at the time, apples didn't interest me much).

One was along the path that ran along Beebee Lake on North Campus, which produced tiny red blushed greeny yellow plums (at the time I assumed it was an American wild plum, but since those are supposed to be too sour to eat raw (which I did with this one) and that they tasted quite a lot like how greengages tasted when I later encountered them, I suspect it may have actually been a European plum that had somehow managed to survive there. It WAS still there the year I took botany (which would have been junior year) since the TA (after I told him about it) brought some branches in for the lesson on fruits (that was actually when I tasted it, someone else did it automatically, and I though if he was OK with it, so was I.) Alas, by senior year, it was dead (no leaves or plums whatever), probably from its terrible case of black knot (which bears out the European plum identity).

The second was a little nearer to my apartment. It stood in a sort of urban tree square on the corner of Seneca Street, one block above my apartment, between another housing complex and a bar. That tree must have been TOUGH, since it was thriving despite having it's base perpetually covered with a thick layer of trash mixed with drunk student vomit (maybe the vomit was good fertilized, but I'd think it would make the soil too acid.) I never knew what kind that was (I think it may have had purply bronze foliage, but can't remember clearly). It produced very tiny plums (most closely resembling mirabelles, based on my later web searches) that were an odd shade of apricot orange. No one seemed to know where it came from (including the head of the department responsible for urban trees in Ithaca, they said it wasn't one of theirs) I never tasted the fruit, but my agronomy teacher did, and said it wasn't very good. That one WAS still there when I left, but I have done Google street views since then, and confirmed that it has long gone (they re-did the area).

The really annoying thing is that I could have kept BOTH going. I left with PLENTY of pits from both trees. But the ensuing years, combined with the difficulties I have had trying to get plum pits (or, indeed any tree seeds, to germinate without either rotting or being all eaten by the squirrels as soon as I plant them has used that whole supply up, as far as I know.


*The "Impossible One" was an apple tree located one North Campus in Ithaca Gorge; about 10-20 feet DOWN the rock face, growing out of the side! The ONLY way anyone would have been able to harvest that one would have been to rappel down the side of the cliff, which no one in their right mind would do (especially considering that the ground on top had a thick layer of muddy loam on it, not great for setting a securing pin (yes, I know that technically, if you're using a pin rather than another person, it's technically abseiling, not rappelling, but the two term are used more or less interchangeably in the US.)

Nowadays, of course, there would be another option; rig up a flying drone with remote controlled scissors and a net or bag and FLY it around the tree. I might have tried that if I was there now (it might be a fun pet project for the Engineering school)
Since no one COULD harvest the apples, I sometimes wondered if, when they fell, they regularly clonked people on the head who were hiking the bottom of the gorge. I hope not. At least one person a year generally died falling INTO the gorge; I'd hate to imagine falling apples adding to the death count (bear in mind an apple falling off that tree would travel about 1500 feet before it hit the ground, so we are talking a pretty hard impact.)
 

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