Fresh Fruit Facts & Folklore


Apple Facts


    • Apples are pomaceous fruits from the apple tree, which is part of the rose family (Rosaceae).


    • Apple trees are deciduous, which mean they lose their leaves seasonally.


    • An apple tree can range in height from 9 feet to nearly 40 feet, though most modern plantings tend to be dwarf in nature.


    • The wild ancestral apple, Malus sieversii, is indigenous to the Tien Shan Mountains that border China and Kazakhstan.


    • The apple tree is one of the most cultivated plants across the entire planet, with more than 7,500 known cultivars.


    • Apples were brought to North America with colonists in the 17th century, with the first apple orchard here believed to be located near Boston in 1625.


    • In the 20th century, Washington State emerged as the leader in U.S. apple production, a position it has retained ever since.



Apple Folklore


    • Alexander the Great is believed to have found dwarf apples growing in Kazakhstan in 328 BCE.


    • Many recognize apples as the “forbidden fruit” in the Book of Genesis, though that is often debated.


    • Apples represent peace in Chinese culture, and apple blossoms are a symbol of a woman’s beauty.


    • An apple pictured along with magnolias is “a hope that your house be honored and rich with beauty.”


    • It is said that if a woman wanted a man to respond to her loving desires, she had to sleep with an apple under her arm and persuade the man to eat it the following day. He would then have eyes for her only.


    • For the eleventh of his 12 great labors, the hero Hercules had to obtain some of these apples. After a long, difficult journey across North Africa, he enlisted the help of the giant Atlas, who entered the garden, strangled the dragon and obtained the fruit. Hercules took the apples to Greece, but Athena returned them to the Hesperides.



Pear Facts


    • Pears are pomaceous fruits from the rose family (Rosaceae).


    • Pears are closely related to apples, but produced from different trees.


    • There are more than 3,000 varieties of pears across the world.


    • Pears are believed to be one of the oldest cultivated fruits. The pear tree is believed to have originated in Asia near present-day western China over 3,000 years ago.


    • Pear cultivation spread to Europe in the 17th century, and many of the varieties we’ve come to know and love today originated there.


    • By the 18th century, early colonists brought the first pear trees to America.


    • Today, the Northwest states of Oregon and Washington dominate pear production in the U.S., due mostly to the arid climates located in river valleys.


    • Pears were given the nickname “butter fruit” in the 1700s because of their soft, buttery texture.


    • Before tobacco was introduced in Europe, pear leaves were smoked.


    • Towns with an abundance of pear trees often included the word Perry in their name.


    • Pear wood is used to make furniture, musical instruments, wood carvings and wooden kitchen utensils.



Pear Folklore


    • In 5,000 BCE, Feng Li, a Chinese diplomat, is said to have abandoned his responsibilities in order to graft pears, apples and other fruits.


    • In The Odyssey, the Greek poet Homer lauds pears as a “gift of the gods.”


    • Pears were used as a natural remedy against nausea in ancient Greece.


    • In Europe, it was customary to plant a fruit tree at a wedding. The longevity and fruitfulness of the trees were thought to give children and strength to the marriage. As each child arrived, an apple tree was planted for every boy, and a pear tree for each girl.


    • In Russia, pears were used as protective charms for cows.


    • In Chinese, fen limeans both “to share a pear” and “to separate.” Therefore, it is considered bad luck in China to share a pear because it may lead to separation of friends or lovers.



Cherry Facts


    • Cherries are drupes, or stone fruits, and are related to plums, peaches and nectarines.


    • There are 430 species in the genus Prunus, which include cherries, plums, peaches, apricots and almonds – just to name a few.


    • It is believed that the sweet cherry originated in the area between the Black and Caspian seas in Asia Minor around 70 B.C. The Romans introduced them to Britain in the first century A.D.


    • The English colonists brought cherries to North America in the 1600s.


    • There are more than 1,000 varieties of cherries in the United States, but fewer than 10 are produced commercially.


    • In an average crop year, a sweet cherry tree will produce 800 cherries.


    • Seventy percent of the cherries produced in the United States are grown in the Northwest.


    • Stemilt Growers is the world’s largest shipper of sweet cherries.


    • The world’s heaviest cherry was grown by Gerardo Maggipinto (Italy) and weighed 21.69 g (0.76 oz) on June 21, 2003. The cherry was presented at La Grande Ciliegia, in Sammichele di Bari, Italy.



Cherry Folklore


    • While they have long been a popular dessert fruit, cherries were used for their medicinal purposes in the 15th and 16th centuries. No doubt cherries are full of nutrition! Get the Skinny on Cherry Nutrition on our blog.


    • Records indicate that cherries were a prized food in a region of China dating back to 600 BC – fit for royalty and cherished by locals.


    • Because cherry wood was thought to keep evil spirits away, the Chinese once placed cherry branches over their doors on New Year’s Day. They also carved cherry wood statues to stand guard in front of their homes.


    • In Japan, where cherry blossoms are the national flower, the cherry represents beauty, courtesy and modesty.


    • The symbolic meaning of cherry blossoms in the West is education.


    • Broadway in New York shifts west at East 10th Street because a cherry tree once stood there.



Peach, Nectarine & Apricot Facts


    • Peaches, nectarines and apricots are part of the rose family (Rosaceae). They are also drupes, or fleshy fruits with a stone (pit).


    • True wild peaches are only found in China. Unlike the cultivated fruit, the wild fruit is small, sour and very fuzzy.


    • Known within scientific circles as Prunus armeniaca (Armenian plum), the apricot is believed to have originated in Armenia during ancient times.


    • Greek philosopher Theophrastus named the fruit “peach” around 300 B.C. because he thought the fruit was native to Persia. In actuality, Persians brought peaches from China and introduced them to the Romans.


    • In Persia, peaches were discovered by Alexander the Great, who mentions half a dozen types, and who introduced them to the Greeks.


    • The peach didn’t show up in England until 1650. Louis XIV even awarded a pension to the man who provided him with peaches.


    • Spaniards brought peaches to South America, and the French introduced them to Louisiana. The English took them to their Jamestown and Massachusetts colonies. Columbus brought peach trees to America on his second and third voyages.


    • The Spanish explorers also get credit for introducing the apricot to the New World, and specifically to California, where they were planted in the gardens of Spanish missions. In 1792, in an area south of San Francisco, the first major production of apricots was recorded.


    • Thomas Jefferson planted peach trees at his Monticello estate in 1802.


    • Peach is the state flower of Delaware, and Georgia is the peach state.


    • Nectarines are simply a fuzzless peach. They occurred in nature and are genetically similar to the peach except for one recessive gene (the one that causes fuzz).


    • The word “nectarine” means sweet as nectar, and this is very likely the origin of the name.