Thursday, August 9, 2012

An Apple A Day

The apple tree originated in Western Asia. There are more than 7,500 known cultivars of apples, resulting in a range of different characteristics. Different apples are bred for various tastes and uses, including cooking, off-the-tree eating and cider production. Domestic apples are generally propagated by grafting, although wild apples grow readily from seed.

The illustration below shows some of the health benefits from human consumption of apples.

Illustration courtesy Mikael Haggstrom.

The center of the apple fruit contains five carpels arranged in a five-point star, each carpel containing one to three seeds, called pips.

Apple seed captured under a stereo microscope.

Apple seeds are mildly poisonous, containing a small amount of amygdalin, a cyanogenic glycoside. It usually is not enough to be dangerous to humans, but can deter birds from eating the fruit.

China is the number one producer of apples in the world, followed by the United States and Turkey.