10 pioneer-era apple types thought extinct found in US West

Basket of apples (Photo: USDA-Ken Hammond)

PORTLAND, OR (AP) — A pair of so-called apple detectives has rediscovered 10 apple varieties in the Pacific Northwest that were planted by long-ago pioneers and had been thought extinct.

It’s the largest number ever unearthed in a single season by the nonprofit Lost Apple Project.

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The Vietnam veteran and former FBI agent who make up the nonprofit scour the remote ravines and windswept plains of rural Washington, Oregon and Idaho for long-forgotten pioneer orchards. They have rediscovered 23 varieties.

There were over 17,000 named apple varieties in North America but only 4,000 are known to exist today.