Antique Apples, Believed Extinct, Found In Washington

The Northwest is home to many of the world’s most popular apples. But it also has apples many believed no longer exist. On eastern Washington’s Steptoe Butte, researchers found two apple varieties they thought extinct, the Spokesman Review reports.

The cultivars known as Arkansas Beauty and Dickinson aren’t the first lost apples found in Washington. Another, the Nero, was also found on Steptoe Butte.

Apples have long been part of American history. Hard apple cider was one of the most popular drinks in the country, and the fruit quickly spread west alongside pioneers and homesteaders.

That the varieties have survived since the 19th century is evidence, scientists say, of their hardiness and disease resistance. Those are traits that could be cross-bred into new and more commercially-viable cultivars.

These aren’t the first antique apples valued for their genetic bounty. Washington State University researchers are studying some of the world’s oldest domestic apple varieties as a potential source of disease resistance.

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