The last remaining Niedzwetsky Apple trees are found sporadically across Central Asia’s fruit and nut forests. The species is a wild relative of the domesticated apples that line our supermarket shelves and is of global importance as an international genetic resource.
It has bright red flesh and is an iconic species for the region. The red pigment is thought to have medicinal properties and in some areas is eaten, especially by children, as a means to prevent cancer.
Expansion of agriculture and development across its range have led to 90% of the apple’s fruit and nut forest habitat being lost in the last 50 years. Overgrazing of cattle within the last remaining forests prevents natural regeneration as young shoots are eaten before developing a protective woody stem.
Surveys have revealed that only 117 individuals remain in Kyrgyzstan’s fruit and nut forests. The Global Trees Campaign is supporting the monitoring of the remaining wild individuals in Sary-Chelek Nature Reserve and is working with the state forestry department and local groups to support propagation of the species in nurseries.
So far well over 2,000 saplings have been grown from seed and planted out into the forest to reinforce wild populations.
Did you know?
Over exploitation of the huarango tree led to ecological devastation and the consequent downfall of a pre-inca civilisation, known as the Nasca.