Red apple red alert

Niedzwetzky’s apple is native to Central Asia but is extremely rare throughout its range, with populations that are widely scattered, severely fragmented and sometimes confined to isolated individuals. It is a wild ancestor of many domesticated apple varieties found on our supermarket shelves today and is a globally important genetic resource.

The tree is hardy and drought resistant, reaching a height of up to 25 feet in the wild, and produces large, magenta-coloured flowers. The fruit itself is characterised by a deep-red skin and bright-red flesh.

Niedzwetzky’s apple facts

  • Commercial varieties of apple including ‘Surprise’ and ‘Pink Pearl’ are descended from Niedzwetzky’s apple
  • This apple’s red pigment is thought to have medicinal properties
  • Niedzwetzky’s apple is named in honour of a Russian lawyer and amateur naturalist who first sent its seeds to Europe
At a glance
Malus niedzwetzkyana
Endangered
AfghanistanChinaKazakhstanKyrgyzstanUzbekistan

Family:

Rosaceae

Order:

Rosales

The red-skinned, red-fleshed, red-listed Niedzwetzky’s apple is one of the world’s most endangered fruit trees.

90%

The percentage of Niedzwetzky’s apple habitat lost in the past 50 years.

117

The number of mature Niedzwetzky’s apple trees left in the wild in Kyrgyzstan.

Conservation story

Agricultural expansion and other forms of development throughout its range have resulted in the loss of 90% of this tree’s fruit-and-nut forest habitat.

Even within its last remaining forest havens, Niedzwetzky’s apple is threatened by intensive livestock grazing, which destroys young shoots before they have developed a protective woody stem, meaning that the trees cannot regenerate naturally.

How FFI is helping to save Niedzwetzky’s apple

FFI is working closely with government staff and local people to help protect Niedzwetzky’s apple and the other globally important fruit and nut species in Kyrgyzstan’s forests. Supported by the Global Trees Campaign, among others, we are strengthening forest management capacity and helping to develop livelihood options that are compatible with forest conservation.

We are taking direct conservation measures on behalf of Niedzwetzky’s apple by working with the forestry department and local groups to monitor the surviving wild trees, propagate the species from seed in nurseries and plant out young saplings behind protective fencing in order to reinforce the wild population.