Feral Apples

What are people’s thoughts on wild Apples?
They are few and far between in my region but I’m not sure how I feel about that. Are chance seedlings a boon to the genetic diversity since they suffer unmitigated pest and disease pressures of the region they inhabit?, or am I lucky to not have those unkempt bad influences pressuring my trees? Or is it insignificant given the number of ornamental trees that can still harbor the same issues.

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I believe you mean feral apples.

Since Malus domestica is a landrace, no significant amount of genetic diversity will result in feral offspring.

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You might like this topic on Kazakhstan apples. There are many wild Kazakhstan apple posts on the forum.

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Feral is a better descriptor. The thought was spurned on by the story of some of the feral apples that Perfect Circle has gathered.

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It would be neat to visit that area during my lifetime.

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Feral apples are the reason I don’t stress about the so called “loss of genetic diversity” people lament about in apples. Yes, we may have lost a lot of named cultivars over time, but named or not there is a ton of diversity fending for itself all over the country. In my area I keep an eye out along road sides and fence lines as these are areas where seedling fruit trees tend to pop up and then get left undisturbed for long periods of time. Someone could introduce countless unique and GOOD new varieties just from what’s out there now. A couple years ago I saw a micro-dwarf apple (or maybe crabapple) in full bloom off the side of the road. It was amazing how much flower power was on something less than knee high. Imagine if those genetics got spread around for people who have tiny gardens (unfortunately I’ve not had access to collect scion from that particular “tree”).

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@busch83

Before you visit Kazakhstan you should know we are not responsible for selecting the most disease free, largest, sweetest apples. Bears are responsible and they are very thick in the wild apple forests. @BobVance at one time had lots of these wild cultivars

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In addition, there is growing evidence that bears managed forests before ancestral humans came on the scene.

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Fascinating! Is there a source you’d suggest for those who might be interested in reading up on that?

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@JinMA

It is unofficial knowledge amongst those who live in bear country is my understanding. Bears love apples!

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Funny thing is bears chew very coarsely so you will be able to see actual chunks of apple in their poo. I’ve seen it first hand. This means that most of the seeds will be left undamaged thus making bears great at planting new apple trees.

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Some fantastic apples came from chance seedlings, another word for feral apples. Heck now that we have access to generic testing we know a lot of chance seedlings have quite a pedigree. That’s not all that strange considering that there are lots of named varieties intermingling pollen all over the land.

Granny Smith is comes to mind, a chance seedling that became one of the best known named apples.

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The majority of genomic studies performed on apples and many other fruits in repositories worldwide are far from accurate.

Decades of miscomputation in genomic clades and distances. IJCSA, August 2022, Volume 12, Number 4.

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we have tons of wild apples and the highest bear population in the lower 48 so i say i agree. wild apple and chokecherry are by far their faves.

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Yeah, the early stuff has proven to be unreliable, most of the work is being redone because of that. It is particularly annoying with fungi where a lot of high level mushrooms are being reclassified and renamed.

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Not just the early stuff, nearly all of it to date. The bad news started appearing last year in non-horticultural journals (J. Nature Scientific Reports, J. Computational Science, PLOS One), but this month it will be featured in the lead article of J. American Pomological Society.

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Wild or feral apples are great, they could be M. domestica but there’s a few other species like M. ioensis and M. baccata… anything tough enough to grow unmanaged has overcome some selection pressure for sure. To the original question about bad influences which I’m guessing would mean could they be acting as a reservoir for pests or disease, I wouldn’t take them out preemptively or anything but keep on eye on them. My old pet pig used to cleanup the fallen fruit like a yard roomba. :wink: We have a 10-15 yr old volunteer crab apple here that’s been frameworked over to a few varieties and it’s one of my healthiest trees, must have a robust root system. I’ve been reaching the selected works of Michurin and he refers to these trees as wildings.

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In an ideal world community members would be managing the wild spaces around them (some places still do this) and this would allow for culling of any wild trees which prove to be problematic (such as if they were very prone to pests). I think as land becomes harder to get (due to competition) we’ll see more and more people starting to manage the wild spaces out of necessity.

Regarding the feral apples including other species beyond M. domestica I sure wish there was a lab we could just send samples to for genetic testing. There is so much intermixing of Malus species that it can be hard to id a found tree unless it’s clearly non-hybrid. One of the crabapples I’m watching is neither a native species nor pure M. domestica (if even part I’m not sure), but it sure is worth me keeping an eye on due to exceptional traits like disease resistance, compact growth, unique flavor, etc.

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Excepting invasive landraces.

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