Sooty blotch and fly speck – sounds bad, doesn’t it? While supermarkets encourage the worship of seemingly “perfect” blemish-free apples, the “imperfect” are often far more interesting. Weird shapes, surficial scars, and even a coating of fungi may have little or no effect on flavor.
Recently, I have been enjoying the late-hanging fruits, in their fungal-ridden glory, on the Arnold Arboretum’s crabapple trees. On Peters Hill (545-57*A) and in the Bradley Rosaceous Collection (421-85*A), the fruits of Malus x soulardii (Soulard crabapple), a hybrid between M. ioensis (native to the Mississippi Valley region) and M. pumila (from eastern Europe), are covered with what looks to be a combination of sooty blotch (Gloeodes pomigena) and fly speck (Schizothyrium pomi). These fungi make for an amazing and very beautiful biological patina.
To learn more about sooty blotch and fly speck, head over to this informative fact sheet from Cornell University. In the mean time, enjoy the “imperfect” fruits of some of our crabapples at the Arboretum. What could be more “perfect” than that?
-Ned Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum