The Malus’ Journey to North America
The sun hit my bark at just the right angle, causing the usually dull and greyish brown color to radiate a seemingly golden hue. The midday breeze passed delicately over my budding leaves, and my branches drooped and swayed to the rhythm of the wind. The familiar sounds of birds once again filled the air, and the buzzing sounds of my friends and pollinators, the bumble bee, filled me with delight. It was spring again (April to be specific) and all was right with the world.
My name is Malus X. As a Crab Apple Tree, the beginning of spring always holds special significance to me. After being dormant for months as I tried to survive the cold, harsh New Haven winter, I eagerly await the coming of the warmth and life of the spring season. This time of year also causes me to reflect on how I got to where I am today. When I was just a sapling, my father used to tell me stories. Passed down from generation to generation, father to son, this story told of the great journey that brought our family and genus to North America.
The story begins in Kazakhstan, Central Asia, with my ancestor, Malus I. He was a sturdily built tree and thrived in the cooler temperatures of the region. He was also very productive, and created many fruits that became popular among the humans in the region for medicinal use and consumption. Over time, Malus I and his descendants were traded across the Silk Road, and ended up in parts of Western Asia and Europe. The trip over land was arduous, and many trees did not make it, but in the end we arrived in the West.
The land was under control of the Roman Empire, and it was here where another of my ancestors, Malus IV, made a name for himself. The Romans were impressed by his ability to withstand the elevation and climate of the Caucus Mountains. The Romans brought our genus to Britain, where we experienced a Renaissance, according to my father. Here, my ancestor Malus VI, became known for her beautiful and showy spring time display, with bright red, pink, and red flowers. At this point, the humans began to cultivate us for decoration of their gardens and consumption of our fruits. We enjoyed great reproductive success.
My grandfather, Malus VIII, was the first Crab Apple Tree to land in North America. Brought by colonists to this new and strange land, he was able to thrive in the temperate Northeastern weather. And only two generations later, here I am on the campus of Yale on a sunny April afternoon. Although I am not native to the United States, it is moments like this that make me proud to call this country home.