Despite hurricane-force winds that toppled 100-foot spruces, despite driving sheets of rain that flooded roads, and despite Isaac Newton’s fruit-inspired laws of gravity, some of our gnarly old apple trees refuse to let go of their apples.
These beaten trees are keeping as tight a grip on many of their treasures as misers in a robbery.
It reminds us that the dropping of an apple is not a simple matter. It first happens in the summer when the tree sheds (“abcises”) some immature apples to help the rest mature. As the days get cooler, the tree abscises its mature fruit.
The process involves, among other things, the apple stem cells secreting enzymes that eat away at the pectin layer that holds the stem’s cellular walls together; this weakens the stem’s grip and, eventually, the fruit falls on a physicist. The warmer-than-usual temperatures here may have slowed things up. (Brooklin, Maine)