Apples and more apples!

Oct 10, 2018 · Lorrie Pellack

What do you think of when someone mentions the word “apple” – Fall? Carmel apples? Apple pie? Possibly the game Apples to Apples? How much do you know about apples?

Apple Facts:

  • The crabapple is the only apple native to North America.
  • Apples are a member of the rose family.
  • 2,500 varieties of apples are grown in the United States.
  • 7,500 varieties of apples are grown throughout the world.
  • Some apple trees will grow over 40 feet high and live over 100 years.
  • Apples ripen six to ten times faster at room temperature than if they were refrigerated.
  • Don't peel your apple. Two-thirds of the fiber and lots of antioxidants are found in the peel.

For many, many more visit University of Illinois Extension, Apples and More (Last updated in 2007.)

See also: Apples…a Bushel of Fun & Facts. Call number: PZ156 H9114a (Tier 1)

Apple Varieties:

Apple by Marcia Reiss. Reaktion Books, 2015. Call number: SB363 R38x 2015 (Tier 5)

“This book explores the apple's history and the latest debates about the use of agrichemicals, the rise of organic and heirloom orchards, and the hopes and fears of genetic crop modification. Beautifully illustrated with historic and contemporary images, and with a directory of popular and heirloom varieties.”

“Apple Varieties Grown in Iowa, 1800-1970” by Harry E. Nichols. Annals of Iowa, v. 43, no. 2 (Fall 1975), p. 81-102. Free online from the State Historical Society of Iowa repository.

“In spite of all the research used to improve the apple, the fact remains that nearly all of the varieties grown today have originated as chance seedlings. The two such leading varieties grown in the commercial orchards of the United States today are the Delicious and the Golden Delicious. The former was found as a chance seedling growing in a farm orchard in Madison County, Iowa and the latter was found growing on a mountain side in West Virginia” (p.91). Pages 97-101 detail each variety individually.

Apples of Uncommon Character: 123 heirlooms, modern classics, & little-known wonders by Rowan Jacobsen. New York: Bloomsbury, 2014. Call number: SB363.3 A1 J33 2014 (Tier 5)

Each variety includes: origin, appearance, flavor, texture, season, use, and region.

Comparing Apples-to-Apples—The Best for Eating & Cooking.

“One disclaimer, though. I didn't find 100% agreement on the best use for every apple listed on the fact sheet. That's why I compiled the information from several reputable sources (US Apple Association, Cook's Illustrated, Pick Your Own) and summarized recommendations where I found the most agreement. Your individual tastes and preferences should ultimately guide which apples you use.”

Illustrated History of Apples in the United States and Canada by Daniel J. Bussey. JAK KAW Press. 7 volume set. Call number: SB363.3 A1 B874 2016 (Tier 5)

This set covers over 16,000 varieties and took over 30 years to compile. Beautiful illustrations. Highly authoritative text about each apple variety.

The ubiquitous apple can also be found in a wide variety of locations and settings within the library. A is for Apple…is common text in children’s literature, especially alphabet books. Apple laptops and iPhones can be found in many student backpacks. Check some of these out and see how much more there is to know about apples in the library.


Paul Cézanne was fond of painting apples and loved to show something familiar in a new light.

The World is an Apple: the still lifes of Paul Cézanne – call number: ND553 C33 A4 2014x (lower level).

Wilhelm Heinrich Prestele Prints – MS 70, Special Collections Department (Floor 4).

The collection (circa 1880-1974) contains lithographs of apples and other fruits. Of particular interest are the lithographs of apples that Prestele made for the Iowa State Agricultural College; these prints depict specimens collected by Professor of Horticulture J. L. Budd.

Architecture: The Red Apple was a controversial building project in Rotterdam. It is a residential skyscraper, built in 2009, with a very unique design and living concept. More information can be found via Google and also a book at NA7863 N4 G76x 2009 (lower level).


Johnny Appleseed – a.k.a. John Chapman – Biography In Context and SB63.C46 (Tier 5).

See also: Apple growers -- United States -- Biography

Steve Jobs – available from Biography In Context and QA76.2 J63 (Tier 1).

Business & Industry:

Trade Barriers and Market Power in the United States Apple Industry by Prasanna Sreedharan. Ph.D. Dissertation. Pullman, Wash.: Washington State University, 2005. Available full-text through ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global.

Computer science: Apple Computer, Inc.

Books about Apple Computer, Inc., are located at HD9696 .C64 and also HD9696.2 (Floor 3).

Company profile is available in Mergent Online – use company symbol AAPL.

Culinary Science: recipes! Fruits and their cookery are located at TX811 (Tier 7).

The Book of the Apple, by H.H. Thomas. 1902. Available in the Biodiversity Heritage Library and includes chapters on the history and cookery of the apple, and on the preparation of cider.

Apple Kuchen recipe by Melea Reicks Licht, published in STORIES in Agriculture and Life Sciences: Vol. 5: Iss. 3, Article 40. Available in the ISU Digital Repository.

Education: Apple for the teacher.

There is not one true answer for the origin of this saying but information on two prominent theories was published in Reader’s Digest on February 7, 2017. Free online.

Horticulture: Books about apples and apple growing are located at SB363 (Tier 5).

Chieftain apples were created at ISU. They are “a 1917 cross of Jonathan x Delicious made by S.A. Beach of the Horticulture Department, Iowa State University; tested as A-603, introduced in February 1966” (Illustrated History of Apples in the United States and Canada, v.2, p.64). Chieftain’s ripen in October. Discover more about Chieftain’s, and order apples from the ISU Horticulture Farm.

Human Anatomy: Adam’s apple.

Why Eve Doesn't Have an Adam's Apple: a dictionary of sex differences. Call number: QP81.5 .R56 1996 (Tier 4)

Music: Apple Records label founded by the Beatles.

Come and get it the best of Apple Records [Music CD] – Available in the Parks Library Media Center (lower level) – Disc 007 925.

The Beatles: Strange Fruit - The Beatles' Apple Records [video] – available through Films on Demand.

Mythology:  Hercules and the apples of the Hesperides. See more details from the Perseus Digital Library.

Physics:  Newton's Apple and Other Myths about Science by Ronald L. Numbers and Kostas Kampourakis.  Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2015. Call number: Q172.5 E77 N49 2015 (Tier 1)

Plant Pathology: Apple scab is a tree disease. Books about it are at call number SB608 .A6 (Tier 5); or see the 1953 classic text about it from the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

Religion & Archeology:  The apple in the Garden of Eden.

“Although the fruit is not actually named or described in the Bible, apples are commonly regarded as the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden…archeological evidence argues that the apple was unknown in the Middle East at the time the Book of Genesis was written.” U.S. Apple Association, Fun Facts page.

The list of possibilities is seemingly endless. See for yourself. Go to the library website, use the black Quick Search box to look for more. Simply search for apple* (including the asterisk will ensure results with any ending on the word) and whatever subject you are interested in. Happy researching!

Feeling hungry? Bookends Café has fresh apples, apple juice and other apple drinks and treats.