Anyone grow columnar apples?


@NuttingBumpus, thanks for the info. I did searches on dozens of names, and do not want to cause confusion. There are only so many words that suggest columnar shape, and I wanted to use something that reflected back to the trademarked variety without infringing on the trademark. Something descriptive of the columnar shape, the apple color, and the flavor, would be nice.

Mostly it would be nice to have something less awkward than “A generic clone of NorthpoleⓇ”.

After searching on words like rocket, zodiac names, constellations, I don’t find any apple name with “Arrow”. There is also “Thunderbolt”. Those don’t describe the apple, however. Adding a “Mc” would indicate the heritage and flavor… or “Red” for color. “Red Arrow” maybe?

I hope you will provide updates on “Mere Pippin”. The “interesting” flavor sounds like faint praise, especially since we grow our own largely for the flavor (and health, and appearance, and a few other reasons) and the disease resistance aspect is very compelling for me.


Northern Axis? Arctic Epicenter? Full Southern Exposure?

Santa McShafty?


Thanks Nutting/Dave for posting the info on Mere Pippen, it sounds promising as a late Apple. I’ve got 2 columnar Apples but with limited space I intend to expand. I haven’t grafted any columnar yet, and have some odds and ends rootstocks to play with next Spring and intend to graft a few columnar onto B9, M27, and a seedling. Has anyone had issues with the scion size while grafting? It’s all very chunky, thick, and spurry, does that seem to effect the growth rate or success rate? Enjoying this topic and look forward to more information.


@poorwolf, I grafted scion from my Northpole tree (whatever we want to call the generic) onto M27 and Bud9. I chose some smaller sized spurs (branches?) and used the tip, so the terminal bud was intact and formed the new tree. I don’t know how that affects take or subsequent growth, but they take just fine and grow just fine. The tree on M27 is about 6 feet tall in four years. I moved it, so it had a setback, but the apples that it made this year are as large and flavorful as the original. It will be a couple of years before the one on Bud9 is producing. Using narrower spurs as scion on pencil sized rootstock, the girth was about the same. Mine are whip-and-tongue grafts.

Now that I have RedLove® Calypso® and Redlove® Era®, I really want those to bloom next spring so I can pollinate NorthPole® and Golden Sentinel® with the pollen. I think it will be fun to see what happens - maybe one of the seedlings would be columnar, red flesh, and disease resistant? Of course flavor would be the most important question. An awful lot to ask from a too-small, very limited number of crosses, but it’s all in fun. I also have one-year-old Tasty Red® and Golden Treat®. They could be good as parents too, with disease resistance as the motivation. I do not know the flavor of those yet. They were developed in the Czech Republic by the late Jaroslav Tupy, who also developed the Opal® and Topaz® apples.

Golden Sentinel® and Scarlet Sentinel® originated at Summerland Canada as (Spur McIntosh Wijcik x Delicious) x (Discovery). Discovery is a UK apple, Worcester Pearmain X possibly Beauty of Bath. I’m not that crazy about using Delicious as a grandparent but they were once a good apple. The linked article stated that Discovery sometimes has pink flesh, but apparently that did not pass on to its columnar descendants. Wijcik McIntosh is just a columnar mutation of McIntosh so has the same flavor and other characteristics as its parent, just in columnar form.

It’s also interesting that the apple “Discovery” was a chance seedling grown by a fruit farm worker, not something developed at a university or government program.


I have a couple of columnar apple trees in my fenced, raised bed vegetable garden. The thistles have been a nightmare to deal with in the garden, so we’re going to pull most of the beds and try a different means of doing the vegetables which may involve mowing or some form of cultivation with the tractor.

That means the permanent trees will need to go. One has been girdled by voles a couple of years ago, I may just murder it.

The other is quite vigorous, and bears a little lightly. It’s possible its self-rooted due to over aggressive mulching. I may transplant it and if it re-establishes well, top work it to something with better-loved apples.

I have 2.5 acres, so don’t need to have small footprint trees - I just wanted to try them. My verdict is, I’d only grow them if I needed to fit them in a small space or to appreciate the novelty of the tree form.

I think I have Scarlet Sentinel and another trademarked variety.


here mine


According to wikipedia, the columnar gene is highly heritable. On some level, the small number of trees you can grow are offset by lower standards for the home orchard. Your tree does not need to be commercially viable to be a keeper. It only needs to thrive in your micro-climate. Hobby breeding can be fun if you have the time for it. I suggest planting a larger number of seeds, and cull ruthlessly. I have learned the hard way that if you hang on to everything you find interesting, you will quickly have a stable full of mediocrity and more seeds than you can realistically plant.


I don’t know how early the columnar trait expresses itself - if it can be seen in the first year or two. Some of the really red red-fleshed apples have red coloration in their leaves. For crosses with those, if one chooses only progeny with reddish leaves, and keeps only those that express the columnar trait, that might narrow it down.

My breeding efforts are minimal, if any. I have two seed-grown pluot progeny that have purple leaves and bloom but no fruit. I have a seedling from Oregon Curl Free peach that appears curl free so far and the peaches are good. I don’t have any intentional crosses and no seedling apples.


I would imagine it would take 2-4 years to confirm columnar habit in seedlings. If you winter prune a single scion from each first year seedling and graft it to an established tree, you should know sooner than later what form it is taking.
We have a seedling tree that germinated inside the core of an apparently well-refrigerated Honeycrisp. After 5ish years in a pot, I planted it in the corner of the yard late last Winter. I will cut some scion this winter, and compost the tree. It is an aphid magnet on its own roots. It also occupies the spot I want for a columnar tree.


Red Santa?


@northwoods4, that’s such a good name you should invent that apple. Or maybe SantaCrisp.


I thought of that, too, cutting a piece from the top of a columnar whip & grafting it to a precocious stock to hasten fruiting. There is a caveat though, the whip will begin to spread at that point. Nigel Deacon, who discovered and named Mere Pippin, a columnar tree being trialed by Skillcult in California - and newly grafted to Geneva 30 by me in Spokane - wrote me to say Mere spreads at the point where it is cut. I take it “spreads” probably involves a few branches splaying in a narrow “W” in a fully columnar cultivar.

Since I want to know how Mere Pippin performs from the graft union, I will leave the whip alone as it lengthens. Or if I graft from it in the next few years, I will take leaf buds late in July & chip-bud them. That will leave a small scar on the central stem that heals over in a season.


I like those names. I saw someone refer to it as Northstar at: