Heirloom Apple Identification


There are many types of apples but most consumers are accustomed to standard varieties in their grocery store. The commercially available apple varieties such as Red, McIntosh, and Fuji are cultivated to provide uniform products. However, there are heirloom apples that can be grown and harvested that can give a rare taste treat.


The Decio apple is perhaps the oldest known variety in existence. This type dates back to ancient Roman times. The apple is a small, green apple with a red blush with dense and soft flesh. However, the taste is bland and there is not much juice. It is an eating apple.

White Winter Pearmain

The White Winter Pearmain is the oldest known English apple variety. This type dates back to the year 1200. The apple is a medium to large fruit that is light gree to a pale yellow color. This all-purpose variety has a fine grain with juicy flesh and an aromatic flavor.

Rambour Franc

The Rambour Franc that was discovered in France in 1535 is a brightly striped red fruit that has crisp and juicy flesh. This culinary apple has a flavor that is slightly acid and aromatic.

Calville Blanc

The Calville Blanc or Calville Blanc d'Hiver was created in 1598. This apple is a yellow and pale green with light red dots on the sun side. The flesh is tender, sweet, and juicy. The apple has more vitamin C than an orange and has an aromatic and spicy flavor. This is a gourmet culinary apple that is used in tarts

Lady or Api

The Lady or Api apple is an apple that is used in Christmas decorations and stockings. The apple dates from the 1628 in the French forest of Api. The apple is also used for eating and for cider. It is a yellow fruit with red cheeks often grown in clusters with juicy crisp flesh. The apple should not be peeled because it has most of the aroma in the skin.

Roxbury Russet

English colonists brought apple, or "melt-in-the-mouth", seeds to America in the 17th century but the fruit failed to thrive until after the introduction of honey bees. By the mid-17th century, apple orchards were established in the colonies and homegrown varieties were beginning to be developed. The Roxbury Russet, also known as the Boston Russet, Leather Coat, and Belpre Russet among other names, is America's oldest apple variety. The Russet originated in 1635 in Roxbury, Massachusetts. The apple is medium to large in size and has a green skin blushed bronze with a brownish-yellow russet, hence the name. The fruit taste is akin to a guava.

Rhode Island Greening

The Rhode Island Greening was first documented in 1650. The Greening is a green apple that develops yellow undertones as it ripens. This is a good cooking apple but can also be eaten raw. This apple has a soft and mealy flesh with a pronounced tartness to its taste. The tartness is not overwhelming, but this apple is best suited for cooking and juicing with other apples.

Keywords: botany history, tree horticulture, apple varieties

About this Author

Anne Cagle has been writing ever since she was a toddler who could scribble with crayons. Her first published article, at age 12, was in a teachers' newsletter. She now has a degree in English from the University of Oregon. She was published in "Optical Prism" magazine and has worked as a reviewer for the Webby Awards.

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