Skip to main content

Distributed for Reaktion Books


Gala and Honeycrisp. Pink Lady and Pacific Rose. King Luscious and Winesap. The names of apples are as juicy as the fruit itself. One of the most widely distributed fruits on the planet, apples have always meant something beyond food and drink—their seeds have been planted deep within the myths, religion, and art of nearly every culture. They are symbols of beauty, desire, and sin; signs of hidden poisons and healthy eating; emblems of computers, phones, and music. Exploring the symbolism, art, and literature of the apple, as well as its botanical background, Marcia Reiss follows this iconic fruit from its origins to its now-ubiquitous presence in our world.
Journeying back to the apple’s germination in the mountains of Central Asia, Reiss travels along the Silk Road to Europe and the New World. She reveals that, from Charlemagne to Johnny Appleseed to the colonization of South Africa, where settlers were required to plant apple orchards that led to the development of new towns, apples have become a global commodity. In addition to delving into the latest debates about chemical sprays, Reiss looks at the rise of heirloom orchards and the hopes and fears of genetic developments. She also tells the parallel tale of apple cider, its decline during the Temperance Movement and its return as an artisanal alternative to wine. Beautifully illustrated with historic and contemporary images and containing a directory of popular and heirloom varieties, Apple is a book ripe for devouring.

224 pages | 70 color plates, 30 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2015


Biological Sciences: Botany

Reaktion Books image

View all books from Reaktion Books


“The latest in the excellent Botanical series examines the mythology and history of this sweet source of temptation.”  

Gardens Illustrated

“An erudite text is presented in an easy flowing manner, so it makes you want to learn more about the subject. The wide range of photographs, mostly in colour, add to the pleasure. . . . Everyone concerned with this series ought to be congratulated.”  

Yorkshire Gazette and Herald

Table of Contents

Introduction: Backyard Apples

1. Out of the Wild: An Ode and a Lament

2. A Rose is a Rose is a Rose…is an Apple

3. The Search for Sweetness

4. Cider Chronicles

5. The American Apple

6. Apple Adulation

7. Good Apples

8. Bad Apples

9. Misplaced Apples

10. The Politics of Pomology

11. Apples Today and Tomorrow

Apple Varieties



Select Bibliography

Associations and Websites


Photo Acknowledgements


Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press