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Sievers apple tree

   

Sievers apple tree: the progenitor of all the apples on the earth. Originally from Kazakhstan.

Malus Sieversii (lat.) got its name after a St. Petersburg botanist Johann Sievers, who first described it during an expedition to the Russian Altai, Siberia and Central Asia in 1792-1794. In his notes (“Letters from Siberia”), he marked that in Tarbagatay Mountains he found apple trees with deep roots, drought-resistant and frost-resistant, with an extraordinary lifespan. Herbarium material, collected by Sivers, was processed by the famous С. Ledebour – so he named this apple tree in honour of its discoverer.

Assumptions that this species may be the progenitor of almost all modern apple varieties have been made more than once since its discovery. However, scientists started to speak seriously about it in the early 1930s only, after the suggestion of Nikolai Vavilov - the famous biologist and creator of the “origin of cultivated plants” theory. In the homeland of the tree - in Kazakhstan - a Kazakh scientist Aimak Dzhangaliev (Vavilov’s student) continued this doctrine. He cultivated and preserved the Sievers apple tree until his death in 2009. Finally, modern genetic studies have confirmed the thesis that the Sievers apple tree is the ancestor of most cultivated apple varieties, and their origin is the area of Semirechie (Almaty region).

Sievers apple is interesting not only for its history. It grows on the slopes and in river valleys at an altitude of 1500-3000m above sea level, within a limited area from Tarbagatai to Western Tien Shan. It has a deep root system, resistant to diseases and low temperatures. With overall life expectancy up to 150 years, it begins to bear fruit at the age of 12. It blooms in April and May, with large white and pink flowers. Apples ripen in September: up to 5-10 tons can be harvested per hectare of apple forest. Apples are often not inferior in taste to garden varieties!

Unfortunately, over the past 150-200 years, the once huge apple forests of the Tien Shan have decreased by almost 95%. In their homeland, in the vicinity of Almaty, the Sievers apple tree can only be seen in the small, well-protected nature “islands” - for example, in the “Kuznetsovo Gorge” genetic reserve in Turgen.

 
Sievers apple tree Turgen gorge Sievers apple Reserve in Turgen
 
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