The Sussex apple story begins far from South East England, in the remote mountains of central Asia.
All of today’s varieties of orchard apples (Malus Domestica) are now known to be direct descendants of the wild apples (Malus sieversii) that still grow in vast diversity in the natural forests of Southern Kazakhstan, the Tien Shan mountain range.
Wild mammals drove the evolution of more palatable fruit, selecting the most tasty, most nutritious apples and spreading the pips via their dung.
It may have taken as long as 6000 years for the wild apples to reach the Atlantic shores of Western Europe. The biggest and best apples carried by traders in saddle bags along the silk road from Kazakhstan’s former capital, Almaty, a city once known as Alma-ata, the “place” or “father” of apples.
In Europe these resourceful trees thrived in regions that were too cold for grape vines. They continue to adapt, producing new genetic mixes from the species’ rich inheritance of their central Asia homelands.
[Edited excerpt from Apples and Orchards in Sussex, by Brian Short with Peter May, Gail Vines & Anne-Marie Bur 2012
Copyright Action in Rural Sussex & Brighton Permacutlture Trust]
Follow us on Facebook for more excerpts of apple history.
Apple Day Brighton 2018 (on Sunday 23rd September, Stanmer Park) Brighton Permaculture Trust’s 12th Apple Day – a celebration of local Sussex Apples, all things appley, of permaculture and community! Find out more: AppleDayBrighton.uk
Join Brighton Permaculture Trust’s team of Apple Day volunteers.
Photo credit: BrightonPermacultureTrust