Apple tree sex
We watched a program about apples last night. And it was interesting. The British are whoop-de-gaga about apples. They eat billions of them every year, in hundreds of varieties.
So. If you eat a Granny Smith for lunch and then you plant the seeds, the resulting trees will bear apples that are not a Granny Smith. In fact, each pip will grow into a unique tree.
Why is this? For the same reason your second child is probably not a lot like your first and neither of them are exactly like you: apples are genetically complicated. They’re the most genetically complicated fruit of all. There’s a mommy tree and a daddy tree and they each contribute genes in near infinite combination. There are more than 7,000 recognized varieties of apple, which doesn’t count all the unrecognized apple varieties that sucked.
Now, I am a complete horticultural illiterate, so y’all probably knew this already, but I didn’t.
So every single Red Delicious or Pink Lady is grown from cuttings off one tree (or, you know, cuttings off of cuttings off of cuttings) grafted onto a different rootstock. Turns out, we figured out how to graft plants back in the days of the Pharaohs.
The program visited the old lady with the original Bramley in her back yard (Bramley is the most popular cooking apple in Britain). Upwards of two hundred years old and still going strong (the tree, not the lady). When she realized the tree was actually growing in the garden next door, she bought the house next door.
The original Granny Smith, by the way, was discovered by Mrs Smith of New South Wales growing at a garbage dump. Word.
And then there’s the dude who found the Next Big Apple growing on the shoulder of the interstate (well, the A4260. They don’t have interstates here). Somebody cruising down the highway eating an apple, tossed the core and — walla — honking great apple tree with especially nice fruit.
Britons: potty about apples.