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The Extraordinary Story of the Apple

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A second edition to the 2006 The Story of the Apple, this fascinating book is illustrated throughout with colour illustrations, paintings, photographs, and line drawings, and will make the ideal read for gardeners, growers, botanists, historians, archaeologists and zoologists alike.

Now £25.00 Was £50.00

Authors: Barrie E. Juniper and David J. Mabberley. 260pp. 100 colour paintings. 50 colour photos. 50 b/w illustrations. 246 x 189mm. Hardback ISBN 9781842466551, Kew Publishing 2019.

Although we may often think of the apple as quintessentially English, its origins lie in China. The apple (the Malus genus) arose in the Tertiary period (5.3 – 1.8 million years ago) in southern China and spread through a continuous corridor of temperate forest as far as western Europe. This book details the natural and cultural history of the apple, using DNA evidence, from its origins in China, along the Silk Road to Europe and onto the Americas and Australia.

The apple has long been one of the most important fruits in the temperate regions of the world, and was apparent by the times of the Persians, Greeks, and Romans. Favoured throughout human history as a food source of great nutritional value as well as being remarkably convenient, as the apple can be stored throughout a harsh winter or easily transported over long distances.

Native bears were key in the spread of the larger apples, favouring them over the smaller, less sweet fruits, and as such, the larger apples became adapted to dispersal by bears. The success of the apple’s global travel was mainly due to the movement of people along trade routes, and crucially, due to the apple-loving horses on the Silk Road.

The book charts this geographical history of the apple and its influence on human civilisation. From Adam and Eve, to the ancient Egyptians, Romans, the Battle of Hastings and Newton’s Law of Gravity, the apple has played a key role in human culture. Chapters also cover types of apple and apple crops, grafting techniques over time, archaeological discoveries, use as a food and in cider making, as well as the latest research in apple biology.

Media coverage:

This is a long and thoughtful book by renowned botancial experts...which will delight anyone who enjoys the more in-depth approach. The English Garden

This is the ultimate accessible, academic apple volume. Alexandra Henton, The Field

Encyclopaedic in scope, written in an accessible language, it should appeal to both experts and anyone fond of apples. Geraldine Reid, Annals of Natural History


Barrie E. Juniper is reader emeritus in plant sciences at the University of Oxford; emeritus fellow of St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford; and co-author of The Tradescants’ Orchard (Bodleian Library, 2013) and The Story of the Apple (Timber Press, 2006).

David J. Mabberley is ex-Keeper of the Herbarium, Library, Art and Archives at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and is an Emeritus Fellow at Wadham College, Oxford, Adjunct Professor at Macquarie University, Sydney, and Professor Extraordinary at the University of Leiden, The Netherlands. He is a member of the Order of Australia (AM). He is the author of Mabberley’s Plant Book (Cambridge University Press, 2017) and co-author of The Story of the Apple (Timber Press, 2006).

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