Friday, 27 October 2017

regnum, cladus, ordo

Though only introduced (I believe despite having grown up in their natural range) to the oversized fruit via a vicarious taste-test just a little while ago, I was pretty intrigued by the suggestion that the Osage orange (Maclura pomifera, known by a variety of names including hedge apples ) might be a remnant of days when mega-fauna roamed the plains of North America. In evolutionary terms, ten thousand years—especially for long-lived, hardy trees (there was a campaign to plant them across farming regions as wind-breaks after the Dust Bowl) has not given the species sufficient time to notice that there are no longer giant sloths, mammoths or buffalo to propagate their seeds and shrink their fruit down to something more portable and appetising.
The avocado might be another candidate as a prehistoric hold-over—though our intentional cultivation efforts has caused major changes in the past epoch to the taste and size of fruits and vegetables as well and in the wilds, left to themselves, take other paths for other palettes.