[Apples]

Apple Trivia

Juicy facts to know and tell.

Pome Fruits

Apples are pome fruits, a botanical classification meaning "fleshy fruits." Pears and quince are also pome fruits, as opposed to stone fruits, fruits with hard "stone" pits, like peaches, plums, apricots, and cherries.

The word pome comes from the French word pomme (which means apple, also the root of Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruits). Interestingly, the French word for potato is pomme de terre, or "apple of the earth."

The science of apple growing is called pomology (can you guess why?).

The Number Five

The number five is important in the world of apples, and not just because apple is a five-letter word: Apple blossoms typically form in clusters of five … an apple blossom has five petals … Red Delicious apples usually have five bumps (lobes) on the base of the apple … The "star" you see when you cut an apple in half is due to the fruit's five seed cavities. Each cavity has the potential for 2 seeds, thus 10 seeds per apple are the norm.

Annual Crop Drop

Today, the annual apple crop grown in 35 U.S. states averages over 200 million bushels.

Apple Varieties

2,500 varieties of apples are grown in the United States and 7,500 varieties of apples are grown throughout the world.

Apple and Air

25 percent of an apple’s volume is air. That is why they float.

Apple Trees

Some apple trees will grow over forty feet high and live over a hundred years.

Apple Consumption

The average U.S. consumer eats about 19 pounds of fresh apples a year - about one apple per week.

Apples and Roses

Apples are a member of the rose family.

The Garden of Eden

We'll start at the beginning: According to the Bible, Eve's inability to resist an apple's allure led to humanity's fall from grace.

Long before apples were cultivated, it is believed they grew wild in Central Asia and China, as well as in Southwest Asia, where biblical historians place the Garden of Eden.

Apples Throughout History

The Stone Age peoples of Europe cultivated apple trees. In 3000 B.C., the ancient Lake Dwellers of northern Italy and Switzerland also grew apples. The Greeks and Romans both cultivated apples. When the Romans conquered England (first century B.C.) they brought the art of apple cultivation with them. The Spaniards brought apples to Mexico and South America. The Pilgrims of Massachusetts Bay Colony planted apple seeds in 1629. Pioneers brought apple trees west. Indians planted trees from seeds they had received at white settlements.

The apple played an important role in many Greek stories. As an example, the fall of Troy is indirectly blamed on a golden apple. All the gods and goddesses were invited to the wedding of Thetis, the sea nymph, and Peleus, a mortal king. All except Discord, who in her anger tossed a golden apple among the guests, saying it was for "the most beautiful." Juno, Minerva and Venus all felt entitled to the prize, so Paris, son of Priam, king of Troy, was asked to rule. Each of the three tried to sway his vote with wonderful promises and Paris, forgetting for a moment that he was married, selected Venus who promised him the fairest of women for his wife. Unfortunately, the fairest of women was Helen, who lived in Greece with her husband Menelaus. With the assistance of Venus, the goddess of love, Paris was able to travel to Greece where he convinced Helen to return with him to Troy. This angered Menelaus, who called upon the chieftans of Greece to assist him in recovering his wife. The result? The Trojan War.

The Story of Atlanta

Then there's the story of Atlanta. Single and speedy, she said she wouldn't marry unless a potential groom could defeat her in a running race. Milanion managed the feat by dropping three golden apples (gifts of Venus, the Goddess of Love) during the race. Because she stopped to pick them up, Atlanta lost the race, and became his wife. (Although rumor has it, trust was always an issue in their relationship).

Celtic Myth

In Celtic myth, apples were considered fruit from another world. Numerous stories speak of otherworldly women carrying off heroes found sleeping beneath apple trees.

Iroquois Indians

To the Iroquois Indians, the apple tree is the central tree of heaven.

William Tell

And how about William Tell? The simple shepherd people in the mountainous heart of Switzerland were determined to resist Austrian aggressors. Gessler, the Austrian governor, was a cruel tyrant, who asserted his power by requiring everyone who entered the village of Altorf to bow before a cap hung high in the marketplace. Tell, accompanied by his little son, refused to bow and was arrested. Because no one was more skilled with a bow, and no one was more respected by the Swiss people, Tell was despised by Gessler. Gessler offered to release Tell if he would shoot an apple from the head of his son. But instead of missing and killing his son - as the governor had hoped - Tell nailed the apple. Nevertheless, Gessler refused to release him. A storm gave Tell opportunity to escape as he was being carried across the lake to prison. If you go to Lake Lucerne, the Swiss will show you the very rock that Tell is to have stepped upon when he leaped from the boat to escape his captors.

Johnny Appleseed

Johnny Appleseed spent 49 years of his life in the American wilderness planting apple seeds to fulfill his dream of a land where apple trees blossomed everywhere and no one was hungry. Born John Chapman September 26, 1774, in Massachusetts, Johnny created apple orchards in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio. There is no way to estimate how many millions of seeds he planted in the hundreds of nurseries he created in the territory lying south of the Great Lakes and between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. More than 200 years later, some of those trees still bear apples.

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