Johnny Appleseed

There are stories of Johnny Appleseed practicing his nurseryman craft in the area of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and of picking seeds from the pomace at Potomac cider mills in the late 1790s.[1]Another story has Chapman living in Pittsburgh on Grant’s Hill in 1794 at the time of the Whiskey Rebellion.[8]

The popular image is of Johnny Appleseed spreading apple seeds randomly everywhere he went. In fact, he planted nurseries rather than orchards, built fences around them to protect them from livestock, left the nurseries in the care of a neighbor who sold trees on shares, and returned every year or two to tend the nursery.

Joshua Trees


It’s like the moths are farming the trees,” says Harrower.

The yucca moth intentionally fertilizes Joshua trees, using a set of special “tentacles” to carry balls of pollen from flower to flower. And they do it without an immediate nectar reward: Adult yucca moths don’t eat a bite during their adulthood, which lasts only five days.

“On its face, it seems like the moth is doing a ton of work with no payoff,” says Smith. The ball of pollen is huge compared to the moth, “and they sure seem like pathetic fliers. When you disturb them, they just fall to the ground and writhe.”