A lost apple variety has been rediscovered on the Salmon River in Idaho. Apple hunter E.J. Brandt took samples from the apple trees, which he found fifteen feet apart along a creek feeding into the river. The apple has been given the provisional name Polly Bemis, after a Chinese American settler who lived on the Salmon River about 44 miles east of Riggins, Idaho.
The apples were discovered on a remote property, which is only accessible by boat or helicopter. At one time the apple most likely had another name, but it is believed to have been lost to history. After DNA testing, scientists at Washington State University were unable to find any match. Grafts from the trees in Idaho will be replanted and preserved at WSU’s Heritage Orchard.
Thousands of apple varieties have been lost since the 1800s due to monocultures, the removal of old orchards for other crops, and even destruction by wildlife such as bears.