Silk Road Apples — Collection, Evaluation, and Utilization of Malus sieversii from Central Asia
Malus sieversii Lebed., a wild apple species native to Central Asia, is recognized as a major progenitor of the domesticated apple, M. ×domestica Borkh. (Juniper et al., 1999; Morgan and Richards, 1993; Ponomarenko, 1987, 1992; Way et al., 1992). In ancient times, apple seeds and trees were probably dispersed from Central Asia east to China and west to Europe via trade caravan routes popularly referred to as the “Silk Road” (Juniper et al., 1999). This flow of apple germplasm declined over the last few centuries as overland trade through the region decreased, and ceased in the 20th century as Central Asia was isolated for political reasons.