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In 1905, the USDA published a bulletin: Nomenclature of the Apple: A Catalog, that listed 17,000 names. After removing the duplicate names, it still listed 14,000 different varieties of the apple.

Between Captain John Smith in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607, and the beginning of the 20th century, American settlers planted thousands of fruit trees, and produced thousands of varieties. Horticulturists now consider those three centuries the Golden Age of pomology, the science of fruit-bearing trees.

The most famous of the early planters was John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed. “By the 1830’s, he own...


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