Anyone grow columnar apples?

anyone have experience growing these? with our heavy wet snow i wouldn’t have any branch damage like a reg. apple tree… i know they don’t produce a lot but can put more of them closer together to make up for it. hows disease resistance?


I’ve considered it but while researching I could not find any info that indicated there were any good varieties. Everything I’ve read seems to indicate the varieties are in the same league as Red Delicious. Maybe that is just a misconception but until I get some hard evidence that quality apples can be grown in that manner I’m avoiding them.


That was the impression I got as well @speedster1, that the apples were decent for the satisfaction of growing them yourself but not great compared to other varieties. Which does make sense, because if they were better, they’d have been bred into a standard size tree.


thats why i was asking here because i couldn’t find much info on the fruit itself. guess ill go get a few regular dwarf trees instead. thanks for the comments.


In BC, I’ve been able to get Ambrosia apples, which are the favourite of a lot of people including my entire extended family, as almost-columnar trees. My orchard-guy says these are planted a couple feet apart in the Okanagan, my province’s main fruit growing region. I currently have 3 and 2 of them are producing good crop loads this year (one first and one second leaf tree).

I don’t think the true columnar apples are all that great either from what I’ve heard. I’m impressed with the productivity of the Ambrosias and looking forward to eating them this Autumn.



Others would have to chime in here, but you might get less snow damage with a multigraft on something rock solid like b118 or m111 than on dwarfs…

Thoughts from others?


Sorry about being late to this post but I planted 5 columnar apple trees from 2012 to this year. In 2012 I planted Scarlet Sentinel, Golden Sentinel and Northpole. Tasty Red was planted on Nov.15, 2014 and Tangy Green planted Apr.4 of this year. So far I have yet to get any apples from Tasty Red and Tangy Green was just planted. In 2015 from my records I got 6 or so off of Golden Sentinel which I remember being sweet and some tart to them. The brix levels were between 10 and 14. I had 16 on the tree but over this week I think Ranger Rick has been climbing over the 6’ chain link fence and steeling them, only 2 left on the tree and found another 2 on the ground. Scarlet Sentinel is the shortest of the trees planted in 2012 and is just sweet. The tree has been stingy and only got 2 apples off it in 2015. The brix levels were 12 and 13. This year I didn’t think there were any but found 4 on the tree. Northpole has never had any fruit on it til this year, don’t know why it took it’s sweet time to fruit. I got 9 apples off of it this year but think there were more on it that disappeared. I just tried a Northpole apple about 1 hr. ago and can say that it tastes EXACTLY like a McIntosh. The brix level for the one I just tried was 13.5.

Northpole (left side) and Golden Sentinel (right side)

Closeup of Northpole apples on tree

Northpole apples


Looking good. Are those the Macintosh ones? I’ve had them, they tasted like a Mac.

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I started collecting columnar trees in 2015. I have most of the ones that have been available for sale in the US. (Wijcik Mac, Northpole, Stark’s Crimson, Emerald, and Scarlet Spires, Maypole flowering crab, Golden and Scarlett Sentinel, and the 4 Urban Apple series (Tasty Red, Tangy Green, Blushing Delight, and Golden Treat). The only ones I don’t have are Stark’s Irishspire and Ultraspire and a new flowering crab called Rosalie. There are several dozen more varieties available in Europe. There are a couple more Canadian releases that have not come to US. I am saving my seeds and growing the seedlings out to get some newer columnar varieties.

While the knock has been on taste and disease resistance, I think that reflects the Stark Spires which were 1st generation crosses of the Wijcik Mac. The Sentinels and Urban Apples are all 2nd or 3rd generation crosses. The Urban Apples should also have some scab resistance as that is a focus of the Czech breeding program that created those.

I had a few apples off Golden Sentinel the year I planted that tree (2015), none last year and maybe 30 apples this year. Pleasant little apple so far. It has been dropping an apple about every day but the seeds are not brown yet.

I had my first Tasty Red tonight and it was pleasant and tangy although not quite ripe. It did brown very fast after cutting. I have several Blushing Delights and Golden Treats on my trees that I hope to try in the next month or so.

Northpole gave fruit last year and looked like those above. I expected fully red apples as that is what all the catalog photos show.

From a grafting perspective, only Blushing Delight, Tangy Green, and Rosalie are patent protected. The rest are off patent or not patented in the U.S.

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I have maypole that has some fruit this year. Some places call it ornamental and others list it as a cooking apple. Funny, but I keep walking past it and have never picked one to taste, they are very very dark skinned. I think I will go out tomorrow and have a bite.

It is a pretty hardy tree on it’s fourth year with no winter dieback yet, and last year was a brutal winter on all things perennial up here.


I did take a taste of Maypole, definitely not an eating or dessert apple. Sour but I took this picture and it is certainly very pink inside, even the seeds are a bright shade of pink possibly it could have some juicing properties.


I should correct my posting after looking at my old notes and photos. I bought my first set of trees from Raintree in 2015. The tree tagged as Tangy Green had fruit last year but looked like the Northpole photos from ljkewlj. And the tree labeled Northpole had green apples last year that never got any color. I was concerned at least some of my trees were mislabeled so I bought another set of the four Urban Apples trees this past spring.

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I bought the urban series sentinel series from Raintree also. Temperate Orchard Conservancy rescued a Irish and Ultra Spires from the Botner collection. The Irish Spire was available for order this year and this is what I got in the mail.

This is the graft I made. It is the first graft I made outside of class to leaf out. I have to thank @DanBlass for gifting me with Maypole, Stark Crimson, Emerald and Scarlet.


It has been a tough year for my trees. We missed late frosts and they flowered great. But then it turned rainy and fruit set was terrible. It kept raining all summer long and 4 or 5 trees got hit by shoot fireblight. With the side branches being so short on the columnars, FB doesn’t have far to go before it is into the central leader. It did stop there…3 or 4 year old wood…and form a canker. One tree was close to being girdled by the canker. I’ll cut off below the canker when I prune this winter. One 8ft tree has a canker about 18" above the ground so almost the entire tree will be removed. And the few apples I did get were buggy.

I have a several dozen columnar seedlings growing for evaluation. Most have leaf issues - scab, frogeye, or Marssonina. Since I didn’t get many seeds to start next spring, I’ll let these seedlings go another and before I start culling the most diseased ones. Hoping for a drier summer next year.

This year, columnar apples were some of my best producers. I really enjoyed the North Pole, Scarlet Sentinel, and Golden Sentinel. A lot went into app,e sauces but they were good fresh, too.

Next year I plan to plant some of the disease resistant Czech varieties, like Tasty Red and Golden Treat. This are perfect for one of my small deer fenced areas, have smaller footprint than conventional dwarfs.

Since North Pole is considered off patent, I want to create a couple more of those. Not sure which rootstock is best - maybe Bud 9? My main challenge with the older columnar trees on my yard is they are too vigorous.

By the way, both Golden Sentinel and Scarlet Sentinel were developed in Summerland, British Columbia from a columnar sport of McIntosh, crossed with Delicious (Red. Golden?). Original cross was 1986.

Golden Sentinel

Scarlet Sentinel

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The date on scarlet and golden sentinel are set to expire late this winter, 03/04/2020. Anyone know of a scion source for these, and North Pole? I would like to graft a few trees to trade with neighbors as well.

This year my columnar trees just gave me a taste, not a lot. That is because i let them way overbear last year (Northpole and Scarlet Sentinel), and dug up a the Golden Sentinel and pruned it way back, to move it to a more deer-protected spot.

For non-patented ones, if planning to graft them, I suggest a non-vigorous rootstock. My Scarlet Sentinel is on some kind of semidwarf rootstock, and must be 20 feet tall. I’ve seen some around town that are similar. I think the height designation for rootstocks apply to non-columnar trees and refer more to the tree’s biomass than height per se, so in a columnar tree, it all goes upwards. Also,with too much vigor, they develop multiple leaders. They become too tall to thin and prune.

I don’t know how it will work out, but I grafted some Northpole onto Bud-9 this year. They took nicely but it will be a couple years to see what happens. A few years ago, I grafted NorthPole onto rootstock suckers from another tree, then separated them on their own. From my notes, that tree was on M27. Those are 6 feet tall now. They bore this year, not a lot because i also transplanted those. But think slightly more vigor than M27 would be better, maybe a M26 size rootstock.

Here is my 19 year old NorthPole. No idea what rootstock. I keep it topped and prune back the spurs to keep the shape. I intend to do some spur pruning this winter.

One last thought, if these are really trademarked, which nurseries show, then my beliefs is we can propagate them but have to give them a new name. Is that right? It becomes confusing (Airlie Redflesh vs. Hidden Rose vs. Mountain Rose, all the same apple?) but I want to be legal. Should I refer to clones of Northpole by some other name? Is there a convention for designating it if you don’t have an original no-trademark name?


You could call it Northcolumn, Northpillar, or Northshaft.

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I like how you kept it identifiable, almost. How about NorthStar?

I was thinking about something astronomical, like Orion or Apollo but I think there is already an old Apollo. Keeping North in there is better.

Edit: How about this? Here are some photos of a NorthStar Apple, generic for “NorthPole” Apple. I like these, nice sweet/sour like a McIntosh, juicy, just taste like a real apple.


There is already a North Star sour cherry, & I seem to recall a bud sport of an apple (in Summerland, BC?) called North Star.

I caught Skillcult’s advertisement on Youtube earlier this year when he sold pollen, seed, whips and scions. One of the scions was Mere Pippin. It happens to be a columnar apple found by Nigel Deacon in Wiltshire, in February of 2007. I got a scion and succeeded in grafting it onto Geneva 30. The root was small so growth was minimal this year. Li’l guy is healthy otherwise. Will report some years from now on its progress.
If anyone is interested in Mere, I can relay what I’ve gleaned from Mr Deacon: very short branches on columnar tree, pink blooms, late crop of apples that cling to the tree in England through most of the winter. Hard fruit keeps very well and is suitable for fresh eating in March. In England the fruit get hot pink Phoma pomi spots (fungal, I believe) but may not appear at all in Spokane, Washington. Spring may prove too brief and dry to provide conditions for this disease. No reports of canker or fire blight. It seems to be moderately tolerant of scab. (No scab on leaves on my graftling this year.)

Deacon termed Mere’s flavor ‘interesting’ which could mean anything here, where conditions create bizarre effects. Macoun here has a strong vanilla presence. Beacon a floral - lilac! - overtone. Lady grown here will offer strong almond if you keep it past Christmas. Some apples seem to gas away taste in this hot & dry region: William’s Pride, Wynoochee Early & Calville Blanc d’Hiver are among those I’ve tried and found wanting in flavor. I hope Mere Pippin will taste good and be user friendly.