Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 84.djvu/162

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
158
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

SOME ABNORMALITIES IN APPLE VARIATION
By W. J. YOUNG
ASSISTANT HORTICULTURIST, WASHINGTON EXPERIMENT STATION

IF one were to enumerate the chief characteristics of the apple, its variability would doubtless come well toward the head of the list. A species which has been so long under domestication, which has been removed to so many localities where it is not native and subjected to conditions so different from those of its original habitat and which has such a complex ancestry as our modern apple, may well be expected to display a great variety of forms, and among the number some of such abnormal character and infrequent occurrence as to be reckoned as curiosities. It is not my intention in this article to discuss the variation of the apple in general, but only to jot down some notes concerning a few such freaks as have come to my attention during the past season.

First of all, I wish to consider some curiosities of apple coloration. It is pretty generally understood that, other conditions remaining the same, the color of an apple depends to a great extent upon the amount of sunlight to which the fruit has been exposed. The apples grown on the shady side of the tree are apt to be somewhat poorly colored, and the shady side of an apple itself is nearly always less highly colored than the side exposed to the direct rays of the sun. Every one is familiar with the nicely contrasting light spots which are common on our dark red apples where they have been shaded by some friendly leaf, and such spots, if not too extensive, are usually regarded as adding to the attractiveness of the fruit. This effect of sunlight and shadow upon the color of an apple is so well understood that it is often made use of in printing various designs upon the surface of the fruit. It is not often, however, that an effect of this kind is produced wholly without intention, yet that such a thing may happen is shown in the illustration. This specimen of nature's color photography represents a leaf with petiole, midrib and marginal teeth. The apple is of the Mcintosh variety and is one of a number which resulted from artificial cross pollination. In order to prevent the loss of the apples in case they should drop from the tree before picking time, they were enclosed early in the season in small sacks of mosquito netting. This particular specimen happened to so press against the interior of the sack that a leaf was held firmly against its side, and the nearly perfect print of the leaf was the result. The