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Niedzwetsky apple

Latin name: Malus niedzwetskyana

Areas: | Kyrgyzstan |

IUCN Red List conservation status

About: Niedzwetsky apple

The Niedzwetsky apple tree is a wild relative of the domesticated apples that line our supermarket shelves and therefore is of global importance as an international genetic resource.

However the species is considered one of the most threatened varieties in the world, and the last remaining Niedzwetsky apple trees are found sporadically across Central Asia’s fruit and nut forests. Sadly, the expansion of agriculture and development across its range has led to 90% of the species’ habitat being lost over the last 50 years.

Niedzwetsky Apple facts:

  • The Niedzwetsky apple is an iconic symbol in the region and is easily distinguishable by its bright red flesh – so much so that ‘Nedzwetskyana’ has come to mean ‘red inside’.
  • The red pigment of the apple is thought to have medicinal properties, and in some areas is eaten – especially by children – as a means to prevent cancer.
  • Because they are so beautiful, local people like to dry out the apples and use them as decorations.

Surveys have revealed that only 117 Niedzwetsky apple trees remain in Kyrgyzstan’s fruit and nut forests. Through the Global Trees Campaign, Fauna & Flora International is helping to monitor 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.

Over 2,000 saplings have been grown from seeds and planted out into the forest to reinforce wild populations.

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