Monday, December 12, 2011

The apple has been grown for thousands of years. It was well known to the Ancient China and Egypt. Apples were also known to the Greeks and Romans and they were popular through all the centuries to the present day.

Apricots originally came from China. In ancient times they spread across Persia to the Mediterranean region and the Romans knew them. Later the Arabs grew apricots. Apricots were grown in England from the 16th century.

Blackberries grew in Europe, Asia and North and South America. For thousands of years people ate blackberries and since ancient times they were used as a medicine.

In the Middle Ages and for centuries afterwards blackcurrants were used as a medicine. During World War II the government encouraged people to grow them as they were a rich source of vitamin C. Most were made into cordial and blackcurrant drinks have remained popular in Britain since then.

Blueberries are native to North America. They were eaten by Native Americans (sometimes with meat). They were also used as a medicine. Europeans learned how to grow blueberries and from the late 19th century they were canned.

Cherries are native to Asia. They were eaten by the Chinese, the Greeks and the Romans. However in Northern Europe cherries only really became popular in the late Middle Ages. In the 17th century colonists took cherries to North America.

Figs have been grown in the Middle East since prehistoric times. They were mentioned in Sumer (Iraq) as early as 2,500 BC. They were a staple food in Egypt and were later grown by the Greeks and Romans. Figs were probably introduced to China in the 8th century AD. Figs were taken by Spaniards to the Americas in the 16th century. Figs were also introduced to England in the 16th century.

Grapes are native to Asia and they were grown before 4,000 BC. Grapes were, obviously, used to make wine but they were also eaten as a fruit and they were popular with the Greeks and Romans and have been ever since.

Lemons originally came from Southern Asia. They later reached the Middle East and they were known to the Romans although they were rare in the Roman Empire. Later the Arabs introduced lemons to Spain and Sicily. In the 15th century lemons became popular in northern Europe.

Limes are native to Southern Asia. The Arabs took them to the Mediterranean area and later the Crusaders took them to Europe. Columbus took limes to the West Indies. From 1795 British sailors were given rations of lime juice to prevent scurvy.

Loganberries are hybrids of blackberries and raspberries. They were first grown in 1880 or 1881 by John H. Logan.

Oranges are native to China and they were grown in that country as early as 2,500 BC. The Romans imported oranges but after the fall of Rome they were forgotten in Western Europe. When the Arabs conquered Spain in the 8th century they introduced oranges. Later they were introduced into Italy. In the 16th century Spaniards took oranges to the Americas. In the 17th century rich Englishmen began growing oranges.

The pawpaw is native to North America. The Spanish discovered the pawpaw in 1541. However pawpaws did not become popular in Europe until the end of the 20th century.

Peaches came from China where they were grown by 800 BC. Later the Persians grew them and the Romans ate them. Peaches were brought to the Americas in the 16th century. They were grown in England by the 17th century but they were rare and expensive until the 20th century.

Pears are native to Europe and North Asia. Pears were grown by the Greeks and by the Romans. Pears were grown in England in the Middle Ages and many new varieties were grown in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. As well as being eaten pears were used to make perry.

Plums are an ancient fruit. They grew wild in Europe, Asia and North America. Plums were grown by the Ancient Chinese and the Romans and later by the Arabs. The Crusaders brought damsons back from the Middle East to Europe. Today plums are one of the worlds most popular fruits.

Pomegranates were native to Iran and they have been grown for thousands of years. They were eaten by the Egyptians and also by the Ancient Chinese, the Greeks and the Romans. Pomegranates were known in Europe in the Middle Ages and they were mentioned by Shakespeare. Pomegranates were introduced into the New World in the 16th century. Pomegranate is believed to be a corruption of the old French words pome garnete, which meant seed apple.

Raspberries are native to Asia. The Romans grew them and they were also grown in England from the Middle Ages onwards. Raspberries were used as a medicine as well as a food.

Rhubarb is native to China and for thousands of years people believed it was a medicine. Rhubarb was grown in Europe in the 17th century and by the 18th century it was used as a food as well as medicine. In the 19th century rhubarb became a popular food in North America.

Strawberries grew wild in Europe and eastern North America. They were grown by the Romans and were a popular fruit in Europe during the Middle Ages. In the 19th century strawberries became widely cultivated in the USA. Nobody knows why they are called strawberries. They may once have been called strewn berries because the berries are strewn on the plant. Or the name may come from the old word strew, which meant to spread because runners spread from the plant.

Tangerines are native to Southeast Asia. They were introduced into Europe in the early 19th century and they were named Tangerines because they came from the port of Tangier in North Africa. Tangerines were introduced into the USA in the mid-19th century.

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