Through timely identification of nearly forgotten and effectively lost historically interesting varietal diversity we and other highly motivated local private collectors contribute to safeguarding once highly esteemed top fruit germplasm as regionally prevalent biological and cultural heritage, thus safeguarding its availability for next generations.
These collections encompass unique and irreplaceable diversity of form, color, taste, and culinary qualities once identified, adopted, maintained and cherished for centuries for own use and marketing.
Once presumably lost varieties were mostly rediscovered in just e remnant of formerly grown and mostly pre World War II orchards of standard fruit trees.
The diversity concerned, but certainly its predecessors had once reached Western Europe and also our region of The Netherlands after thousands of years of stepwise distribution from its regions of origin in Central Asia, through Persian and Greek antiquity, onwards through further distribution by the Romans.
On the origin apple
In Central Asia, in an area bordering China and Europe, wild horses, donkeys and bears, over hundreds of thousands of years, selected the best and tastiest from among a great variety of wild, originally small fruited and still bird distributed types, which eventually resulted in the appearance of apples very much like the apples we have today.
In a Paradise-like area a few early Malus-species, over a period of millions of years of isolation had been in a position to facilitate development of interspecific hybrids, eventually resulting in a great diversity of forms and palatability.
Much of the opinions about the history of our apple was obtained through correspondence and discussions with em. prof. Barrie Juniper, of Oxford zuiverste, and later from his book The Story of the Apple (Barrie E. Juniper en David J. Mabberley, 2006). They had arrived at their conclusions through observations made during an expedition to the center of origin of apple in Central Asia (Juniper), as well as from research involving novel DNA-techniques (Mabberley).
Unfortunately, the greater part of diversity in size, color, and palatability, as well as a whole range of other useful characteristics, once to be found in that particular region, had under the influence of men, been largely lost as a result of his ever increasing quest for arable land.
In conclusion, the moral of this story: it will not be possible to return to these areas in order to sample from the historic diversity in unique and irreplaceable genetic traits that once might be needed.
If we now, for that matter, allow the remaining diversity in genetic traits available in the remnants of the once prevalent varietal diversity to vanish, our apple might on the long term be doomed and bound once to disappear altogether as a result of lack of the required genetic traits to stand up to various kinds of biotic and abiotic constraints.
Thus, in these old, in some instances ancient varieties, brought together and maintained in larger or smaller collections, a great diversity of potentially very important genetic traits is represented. In totality these make up a gene bank, in which unique and therefore irreplaceable genetic traits, as well unique combinations of these are represented.
We, from our part, wish to make our contributions to these efforts, though within the limits of our means and capabilities, more in particular so as far as the eastern part of our country is concerned.