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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fort Collins, Colorado » Center for Agricultural Resources Research » Agricultural Genetic Resources Preservation Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #392503

Research Project: Efficient and Effective Preservation and Management of Plant and Microbial Genetic Resource Collections

Location: Agricultural Genetic Resources Preservation Research

Title: What's in a name? The importance of identity in heirloom apple tree preservation

item DUNBAR-WALLIS, A - University Of Colorado
item Volk, Gayle
item JOHNSON, A - Washington State University
item SCHUENEMEYER, A - Montezuma Orchard Restoration Project
item BUNKER, J - Maine Heritage Orchard
item CASTRO, D - Lost Apple Project
item LITTLE-SIEBOLD, T - College Of The Atlantic
item UHLMANN, R - Lost Apple Project
item SIEGER, L - Maine Heritage Orchard
item BENSCOTER, D - Lost Apple Project
item PEACE, C - Washington State University

Submitted to: Plants, People, Planet
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/11/2022
Publication Date: 7/31/2022
Citation: Dunbar-Wallis, A., Volk, G.M., Johnson, A.M., Schuenemeyer, A., Bunker, J., Castro, D., Little-Siebold, T., Uhlmann, R., Sieger, L., Benscoter, D., Peace, C. 2022. What's in a name? The importance of identity in heirloom apple tree preservation. Plants, People, Planet.

Interpretive Summary: The need for preserving heritage apple orchards has increased as trees planted in the mid-1800's to early 1900's are ending their lifespans. New DNA fingerprinting methods have made it possible to assign cultivar identities to previously unidentified trees in the landscape and in heritage orchards. This manuscript describes methods that members of the heritage apple conservation community are using to document trees including a tree and orchard mapping application (Fruit RegisTREE and Orchard RegisTREE), phenotyping, genotypic analyses, and reviewing historical documentation. It provides information about how the public can become involved in historic apple tree conservation efforts.

Technical Abstract: Historic North American apple (Malus domestica) orchards that thrived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with cultivar compositions unlike today’s orchards, are vanishing. There are several reasons for this loss: tree aging, cost of tree maintenance, and urbanization. Many groups have collected local knowledge regarding the history and horticulture of apples using both phenotypic and genotypic identification methods. Some of these groups have joined with scientists to form the collaborative “Historic Fruit Tree Working Group of North America” to facilitate the conservation of historic apple cultivars in North America through documentation, identification, collaboration, and education.