Apple Trees for the Frontier The Story of Johnny Appleseed

By Rita Lynn

          Many of us grew up hearing the story of Johnny Appleseed – how he roamed the countryside barefoot, wearing tattered, cast-off clothing and a dinner pot for a hat, scattering apple seeds from his leather sack as he went.  We heard that this wiry, eccentric man befriended a wolf, slept in a hollow log and was accepted by all he met.  The legend grew as legends do, partly from this man’s own love of spinning tall tales about his adventures.  Recently, a friend asked just how it was possible for these seeds to grow into productive trees, when the apple trees we grow these days have been grafted onto other rootstock.  And what kind of apples was he planting?  Bees and other pollinators see to it that apples grown from seed rarely produce the same kind of apple as the parent, and, indeed, tend to produce apples of low quality.

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