An apple, 1990s.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The apple probably originated in central Asia, and has been known to man since prehistoric times. Excavations at Jericho in Palestine from around 6500 BC have revealed the remains of apples. Apple cultivation in Britain began when the Romans introduced the fruit in the 1st century BC. Pliny mentions 22 different varieties; today some 2000 are grown. As long ago as 200 AD the Greek physicians Galen and Hippocrates recommended apples as having a medicinal value as an aid to digestion. In 1904, speaking at the St Louis Exposition, J T Stinson famously declared that 'an apple a day keeps the doctor away'. Today it is known that apples are an important source of Vitamins C and A, fibre and potasium, and also help reduce cholesterol levels.