AND HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?
It's a good question, one we've spent quite some time figuring out. In short, the apple tree is a forest tree just like any oak, hickory, or maple. The apple tree is nature to the Tien Shen mountains in modern day Khazakstan. In its natural setting, the apple tree co-exists with wild apricots, wild pears, hops vines, and countless other forest trees and herbaceous species.
It was first the bears that spread the apple seed all throughout the Tien Shen mountain range. later on, humans would come to use the apple for eating, storage, and barter. Eventually, the apple came to the west via the Silk Road, where it proliferated into the orchard setting we know today.
Contrary to commercial nursery growers, apple trees can grow quite easily from seed (think Johnny Appleseed). If the seed finds the right soil type and the right altitude and the sunshine is suitable, it is not unlikely that seedling trees can take over an entire hillside.
Driving through and around the Catskill Mountains you will find apple trees along every roadside, at the edge of every field, even in the middle of the forest. Most, if not almost all, of these trees are from seed.
Inside each apple is usually five seeds, each of these seeds is genetically unique. This means there are endless varieties, characteristics, adaptations, and expressions of the wild apple.