An apple accidentally found in the forest turned out to be an “interesting” new variety.
Nature lover Archie Thomas came across a lone apple in early November on a wooded railroad track near his home in Wiltshire.
The apple, which Mr. Thomas said was “unlike anything I had ever seen,” came from a lonely old apple tree in the hedge with a multitude of fruits on it.
A “wild apple hunt” led him to an expert who identified it as a new variety that he could propagate and name.
Mr. Thomas, who works for Plantlife, a wild plant and fungus conservation charity, was eager to identify the unusual apple from its little-visited spot in the Nadder Valley, Wiltshire.
He said, “While I am certainly not a fruit expert, it immediately struck me as highly unusual, unlike any apple I had seen before.
Excited by its pale and mottled oddity, I tried to identify it with a view to possibly giving it a name.
“That was the dream, but I was half-suspicious that it would turn out to be a little less exciting than it is.”
After what he describes as a “wild apple hunt,” where many fruit experts were confused by the find, he got help from Plantlife colleagues.
He was then referred to the Royal Horticultural Society’s fruit identification service at RHS Wisley.
RHS fruit specialist Jim Arbury inspected three of the apples and told Mr. Thomas it was a new variety for him to propagate and name.
Mr Arbury said it was “a very interesting apple”.
He said: “It is clearly not a planted tree, but a seedling that could be a cross between a cultivated apple and a wild Malus sylvestris, a European crab apple.
“It tastes quite good. It’s a cooking apple or dual purpose, you can eat it, it has a little bit of acidity, but it has some flavor and some tannin, whatever you have in cider apples. ”
Mr Arbury said the apple can be used for cider along with others.
He said most apple trees come from Bramley’s Seedling apples grown in gardens or orchards, or sometimes from supermarket apples thrown from car windows and now growing along roads.
However, he said the apples Mr. Thomas sent came from a tree that could be 100 years or older – and not the result of a fallen modern supermarket apple.
Apple find is “breathtaking”
Apple trees grown from seed are all different, so cultivated varieties or cultivars are propagated by taking cuttings from existing trees and grafting them onto rootstocks to ensure that the new tree and its apples are the same.
Apples have been grown in these or similar ways for thousands of years.
Dr. Trevor Dines, of Plantlife, said: “Archie has joined a small and select group of people who have discovered something completely new in our natural world.
“I absolutely love apples and Archie’s new find is breathtaking.
“And what a romantic origin, excavated deep in a forest with ancient roots. We can only speculate how it came to be, but that’s the joy of botany – you never know exactly what you’ll find, or how it got there.
“These kinds of mysteries only serve to deepen our love for the countryside.”