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Roadside Fruit Trees an Edible Genetic Treasure Trove

Nicola Bludau bush care roadside fruit trees

I had some discussions on facebook about three fruit trees which were poisoned by council workers. It turned out that they were poisoned by mistake, but in the discussion, someone shared an awesome website from the Heritage fruit society “road side fruit trees”. I offer a very brief introduction, there’s much more on the website!

apple tree

Some councils think feral fruit trees are:

  • Introduced species and thus of no environmental value.
  • Exotic trees like apples or plums are weeds and spread into the bush.
  • Feral fruit trees harbour pests and diseases and are a nuisance for commercial orchards.

For the Heritage fruit society this is wrong, they say that:

  • Feral fruit trees are seedling trees and are much hardier than common orchard trees and rarely harbour diseases.
  • Most roadside trees are virus free.
  • Fruit trees are a food source for native birds and animals as most of their native habitat is destroyed.

Roadside seedlings are valuable:

  • New cultivars like ‘Granny Smith” were initially chance seedlings.
  • Chance seedlings are locally adapted and disease resistant.
  • Our orchards only harbour a very narrow genetic base, roadside trees are a genetic treasure trove.

If you are not into heritage fruit varieties, feral fruit trees are simply a source of free fruit. Why should that be worse for the environment than fruit which was sprayed, packed, trucked and often refrigerated for months? I very rarely saw an apple tree in the bush, have you ever seen the bush overgrown with apple trees? We all eat apples aren’t we?

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