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Where does Sieversii apple tree begin?

Sieversii apple forests in Kazakhstan.

“Around the town, at a great distance along the mountain slopes, there are thickets of wild apple trees, which make up entire forests here. Unlike small Caucasian apple trees, the Kazakh wild apple tree is predominantly represented by large-fruited varieties, which differ little from cultivated varieties.
It was September 1st, the time for apples to ripen. One could see with one’s own eyes that we are in a remarkable center of origin of the cultivated apple tree, where cultivated forms imperceptibly merge with wild ones, where it is difficult to distinguish a wild apple tree from a cultivated one.
Some forms are so good in quality and size of the fruit that they can simply be transferred to the garden...”

N.I. Vavilov. “Five continents. Western China." 1987.

Walk to Sieversii apple forests in Almaty mountains.

Forests can be coniferous, deciduous, or tropical. And there are apple trees. Maybe for some, like academician Aimak Dzhangaliev, this phrase sounds ordinary and not at all strange, but for me it is something akin to a discovery.
Aimak Dzhangaliev himself, a world-famous botanist, dedicated his scientific works and long fruitful life as a scientist to these forests.
- As far as I know, there is a theory that the ancestral home of all apples in the world lies here, in the Alatau Mountains. When did scientists become interested in Kazakh apples? 
- Why does science claim that all current varieties of apples originated from the wild apple tree of Kazakhstan? There are works by the outstanding geneticist Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov. As is known, he was arrested under Lysenkov’s slander for promoting bourgeois “pseudoscience” - genetics.
Nikolai Vavilov wrote an outstanding work “On the centers of origin of cultivated plants.” In 1929, when he came with an expedition to the Trans-Ili Alatau, he described his impressions as follows: we are in a wonderful genetic center of the origin of apples in the world, some forms are so good that they can now be transferred to the garden.
The recognition of the Kazakh apple tree began with the legacy of this great scientist, who substantiated the theory of the origin of cultivated plant species from wild species. His works made a deep impression on me.
I graduated from the Agricultural Institute, the Faculty of Fruits and Vegetables, and was an assistant at the department of the famous scientist Chekhovich, who, by the way, was also exiled here to Alma-Ata for belonging to bourgeois genetics.
He recommended me to graduate school at the Timiryazev Academy in Moscow. In 1941, on July 9, I defended my dissertation, and on the 10th I already went to war. He was demobilized and has since worked in Kazakhstan.
Vavilov thought that the ancestral home of all the apples in the world is here, in our mountains, has not left me all this time. And I began to prepare my doctoral dissertation entitled “Apple forests of the Dzungarian and Zailiskiy Alatau and the biological basis of their use.”
I defended this work at the alma mater of all our botanists - the Leningrad Institute of Botany - and from that time on it became the work of my whole life.
- Did apples really spread right from here throughout the world?
- There are 27 species of wild apple trees in the world. But almost all of them are of no interest either for direct consumption or for breeding. I thought: rather than write thick volumes, it would be better to develop new varieties from wild apple trees. As excavations have proven, our apple tree existed back in the mid-Cretaceous period.
The biological dictionary of the USSR Academy of Sciences dates the origin of the Sievers apple tree - the wild apple tree - to 165 million years ago. he Kazakhs who lived in the local foothills sowed not only grain, but also planted fruit trees from the best forms of the Kazakh wild apple tree.
The Great Silk Road passed through these places in ancient times. From here, along with caravans, the apple tree began to spread east and west. For the first time, the St. Petersburg botanist Johann Sievers drew attention to the local apple tree.
Having learned that somewhere in “distant Kyrgyzstan” (the lands of Kazakhstan, as you know, they called that at that time) there was an unknown variety of these fruits, he visited the Tarbagatai Mountains. Near the Kazakh village of Urjar in 1793, Sievers first described these apples.
Described them as follows: “Here I met a variety of apples similar to our Ryazan egg-shaped apples.” Nikolai Vavilov mistakenly assumed that the Sievers apple tree, gradually spreading throughout the continent, crossed with other species and disappeared as a species.
But, as it turned out, she did not disappear. A group of English scientists wrote a monograph in which there is evidence that the Sievers apple tree spread from here not only to the east, but also to the west. As the English scientist Jennifer proved in her scientific work, all two thousand cultivated varieties of apples in England originated from the Kazakh wild apple tree.
It was from this wild apple tree that I developed the Dzhangaliev clone varieties through selective selection. The USA also became interested in my research on wild apple trees. And for good reason! That is why my works received recognition overseas and were published by Cornell University and the US Department of Agriculture.
The Americans tested our wild apple tree in 23 laboratories, in different climatic zones. And they found that trees do not freeze in the cold, tolerate heat well, and are resistant to diseases.
- Is it possible that the wild apple tree is of interest only to paleobotanists?
- How are new varieties developed now? They take an apple tree with large, tasty fruits and cross it with another, for example, also a cultivated variety. But the closest ancestors of cultivated varieties of apples did not participate in natural evolution.
While the wild girl is older than the man himself. As I said, it is 165 million years old, but how many years ago did modern man appear? Same thing. The wild apple tree has undergone natural selection and accumulated unique genetic material.
Foreign farmers have to spray their apple trees forty to fifty times per season. Because they are extremely susceptible to disease and are not resistant to pests. Long generations of breeding varieties have led to the existence of species that are poorly adapted to life in the wild.
For the further development of apple breeding, the valuable genetic material of our wild apple tree is simply irreplaceable. From wild animals, for example, I developed varieties such as “Asya” and “Askar” - I named them after the names of my grandchildren.
They have excellent pectin and tannin content. Varieties bred on the basis of the wild species are a real bundle of vitamin food. The pilot industrial enterprise organized by me produced cider, Calvados, juices, jams and other products from these fruits, for which I received copyright certificates. 
- Will the wild girl suffer the same fate as the famous Almaty fetch?
- Now fruit forests - apple and apricot - are disappearing due to improper care and inattention. After all, throughout the war, the Talgar distillery and the Alma-Ata fruit canning plant fired their furnaces with trees from these forests.
Now in the Zailiskiy Alatau there are only thirty percent of the forests that once were. I prepared a report at one time on this matter for the Higher Scientific and Technical Commission. If these forests are not artificially restored with my clone varieties, they will disappear from the face of Kazakhstan.
The Global Environment Facility and the United Nations Development Program created an apple tree conservation program based on our materials. They allocated funds for this project, and our government also invested money.
We also receive money from the Ministry of Agriculture for the industrial introduction of my varieties. 
- By the way, about the aport. After all, this apple is considered the symbol of the town...? 
- Aport will be aport only on wild rootstock, and only in the foothill zone. Take the orchards outside the Almaty I station, and aport will taste like potatoes. But the symbol of the city should be not so much the aport as the wild apple forests, the wild apple.
But at the same time, cultivated varieties cannot be planted in the habitats of wild apple trees. They cross, and the so-called half-culture (half-culture) is obtained. It is impossible to thoughtlessly introduce cultivated and alien plants into areas where wild plants grow.
Therefore, the task of recreating apple orchards is not so simple. After all, we have repeatedly asked the question: will the city of Almaty retain its name if wild fruit forests disappear?

Vlad Filin. Published on the AlmaNews website, October 11, 2008.