Read THE WILD APPLE. of Wild Apples, free online book, by Henry David Thoreau, on

So much for the more civilized apple-trees (urbaniores, as Pliny calls them).  I love better to go through the old orchards of ungrafted apple-trees, at whatever season of the year, ­so irregularly planted:  sometimes two trees standing close together; and the rows so devious that you would think that they not only had grown while the owner was sleeping, but had been set out by him in a somnambulic state.  The rows of grafted fruit will never tempt me to wander amid them like these.  But I now, alas, speak rather from memory than from any recent experience, such ravages have been made!

Some soils, like a rocky tract called the Easterbrooks Country in my neighborhood, are so suited to the apple, that it will grow faster in them without any care, or if only the ground is broken up once a year, than it will in many places with any amount of care.  The owners of this tract allow that the soil is excellent for fruit, but they say that it is so rocky that they have not patience to plough it, and that, together with the distance, is the reason why it is not cultivated.  There are, or were recently, extensive orchards there standing without order.  Nay, they spring up wild and bear well there in the midst of pines, birches, maples, and oaks.  I am often surprised to see rising amid these trees the rounded tops of apple-trees glowing with red or yellow fruit, in harmony with the autumnal tints of the forest.

Going up the side of a cliff about the first of November, I saw a vigorous young apple-tree, which, planted by birds or cows, had shot up amid the rocks and open woods there, and had now much fruit on it, uninjured by the frosts, when all cultivated apples were gathered.  It was a rank wild growth, with many green leaves on it still, and made an impression of thorniness.  The fruit was hard and green, but looked as if it would be palatable in the winter.  Some was dangling on the twigs, but more half-buried in the wet leaves under the tree, or rolled far down the hill amid the rocks.  The owner knows nothing of it.  The day was not observed when it first blossomed, nor when it first bore fruit, unless by the chickadee.  There was no dancing on the green beneath it in its honor, and now there is no hand to pluck its fruit, ­which is only gnawed by squirrels, as I perceive.  It has done double duty, ­not only borne this crop, but each twig has grown a foot into the air.  And this is such fruit! bigger than many berries, we must admit, and carried home will be sound and palatable next spring.  What care I for Iduna’s apples so long as I can get these?

When I go by this shrub thus late and hardy, and see its dangling fruit, I respect the tree, and I am grateful for Nature’s bounty, even though I cannot eat it.  Here on this rugged and woody hillside has grown an apple-tree, not planted by man, no relic of a former orchard, but a natural growth, like the pines and oaks.  Most fruits which we prize and use depend entirely on our care.  Corn and grain, potatoes, peaches, melons, etc., depend altogether on our planting; but the apple emulates man’s independence and enterprise.  It is not simply carried, as I have said, but, like him, to some extent, it has migrated to this New World, and is even, here and there, making its way amid the aboriginal trees; just as the ox and dog and horse sometimes run wild and maintain themselves.

Even the sourest and crabbedest apple, growing in the most unfavorable position, suggests such thoughts as these, it is so noble a fruit.