According to this article, the number of date palms in Morocco has declined from 15 million at the end of the 19th century to 4.5 million now, mainly due to desertification. That has to have had some effect on genetic diversity, and I’m willing to bet there are data out there on the numbers of varieties at different times in the past.
Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) has long been touted as a healthy source of flavonoids and other compounds claimed to protect against heart disease and other “civilised” ailments. A report in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture (abstract available freely here) says that Indian scientists have developed a new method of extracting sea buckthorn juice that results in a greater yield of juice that is higher in these protective compounds. An article suggests that sea buckthorn could now join “an ever-increasing list of a number of antioxidant fruits, including pomegranate, guarana, mangosteen, noni berries, goji berries and blueberries, which are increasingly seen by food and beverage makers as up and coming ingredients”. Ah, but will it taste good?
According to this article in The Independent, “Nature conservationists have called on the Government to protect Britain’s traditional orchards from further destruction, on the grounds that cultivated fruit trees provide a rich habitat for wildlife.” Good to see that their value in providing a rich habitat for traditional varieties of fruit trees is not going unnoticed!