Apple variety Horse

Anyone growing old Southern apple Horse? I’m hearing that our ancestors made a killer pie with it and this knowledge may have faded away. Annie at Hidden Springs Nursery raves about the pie- she says far better than any other pie she’s ever had.

Would like to know if it’s a blight magnet. From reading about it, I suspect that it gets blight but tolerates it well- something I don’t want. The tolerant ones infect everything else, at least in my experience.

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I’ve got a couple of 1-year old grafts of Horse growing here, but it’s way too soon to be able to tell you much about it. Someone else here must be growing it.

A couple years here as well, and it’s currently one of the vigorous growers in the row, but way too soon to evaluate.

I am growing horse on Bud-9. To date, I haven’t had disease issues with it. We don’t get fireblight here, but we get nasty bacterial blight (pseudomonas syringae). Here is the description from the Century Farm Orchards website:

Horse: A widely grown apple most likely originating in North Carolina before 1800. More than any other apple, most older southerners remember the Horse apple. There are several reasons for its widespread popularity. The tree is healthy, grows rapidly, produces large crops of big apples in the middle of summer, makes good cider, and cooks well. The Horse has a flavor unlike others. It is uniquely tart and will disappoint those who like sweet or hard apples. It is however, unforgettable. Fruit size is medium to large, yellow when ripe, possibly red on the sunny side. Flesh is yellow, soft (sometimes firm), and briskly subacid. Ripens late July into August.

By extrapolation, since fireblight is prevalent in North Carolina where Century Farm Orchards is located, and the website lists it as healthy, I would suspect that it is not prone to the disease. I don’t know if it is merely tolerant, or resistant. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.

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Fig- Curious what state are you in that doesn’t have blight? What a treat that would be.

I live in Battle Ground, Washington.


I thought this thread was a joke when I first saw the title. Horse apples, Lol.

Here would be my description:

“Smallish, very heavily russetted to the point they are brown. Generally not agreeable with the palate of humans, although is attractive to certain beetles. Traditionally used by homo sapiens mostly for cooking fires. Production is prolific and abundant. You just have to follow the horse around.” :grin:

Maybe it’s a regional thing, but are Midwesterners the only ones who attach food titles to livestock manure (i.e. horse apples, cow pies)?


Not just you. I got mine about 75% for the description and about 25% to tell my dad I just fed him a horse apple pie.

You are too funny!  LMAO!

I hadn’t learned about the pomaceous Horse Apple until long after the choices were made for this yard. It is a contender if something proves incapable of handling near-desert conditions. I already have Rambour Franc (AKA Summer Rambo,) Winekist and Wynoochee Early for summer fruit getting established.
One of the several attractive features of Horse, if I remember my reading correctly, is that it does not discolor upon cutting/biting, like Maiden Blush (another contender) and both are dried.
Is this correct?

Mine has not fruited yet.

Any updates on people having the Horse apple fruit for them? I was looking at trying this apple in my orchard. I am running out of space so I am trying to be picky at what ones I choose to plant next.


Mine have fruited now. David Vernon’s description was accurate for me; they were firm but not crisp, tart rather than sweet, and had an unusual flavor that I can’t really describe. I think they’d be a good cooking apple, but I haven’t harvested enough for that yet. Mine have grown fairly slowly, but I suspect that’s the fault of the tree that I grafted them to (on which everything grows slowly).

It’s an interesting variety, but wouldn’t be among my top choices if grafting spots were scarce.


Any update?

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I grafted it twice from two different sources and it died both times. It seemed either pretty susceptible to fireblight or canker, and didn’t like our heat and humidity, and was a slow grower here.

That combined with not great taste reports caused me to give up on it.

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I had a beaver in my pond fir a few weeks. It got my Horse apple tree. So no idea how this apple is. I’m back to square one.

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I found this paper quite interesting: Analytical Methods to Assess Polyphenols, Tannin Concentration, and Astringency in Hard Apple Cider by Stephan Sommer et al. (Applied Sciences | Free Full-Text | Analytical Methods to Assess Polyphenols, Tannin Concentration, and Astringency in Hard Apple Cider).

What surprised me is the relative high tanning content of Horse. Same paper gives titratable acid as 6.2g/L, which would make it a bitter sharp, with properties normally found in crab apples. I put a Horse tree from Century Farms out in my garden in northern Florida (8b). Look forward to using it for hard cider in about 4 years or so. Another interesting thing from this paper is in my mind the data for Summer Banana, for which the tannin content of its cider is given as relative high (for a desert apple), with low TA (4g/L) and high sugar (14 brix). So Summer Banana could be considered as a mild bitter sweet for southern climates. I have this one too (recommendation from Century Farms for warm and humid climates).

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Calhoun in “Old Southern Apples” wrote that he found more ancient Horse apple trees than any other varieties. He says Horse was the most popular apple grown for home use in the South before 1930, “Horse seems to do well all over the South, even in warmer areas”. I found a magnificent Horse apple tree growing in the San Fransciso Bay Area near the Redwood state forest in Oakland. The apples were very tart and made an excellent apple pie. Horse also has been reported to have high levels of tannins, which makes it interesting for cider. The main thing that stands out to me is the unusual tart taste and the vigor and high adaptability to warm climates. Calhoun says that this was an old apple even back on 1869, so what you experienced with your grafts is not in agreement with this description


I wish someone close to me had a Horse apple tree in my area to try and taste one. It sounds interesting but iffy about taste and storage time.

I saw a quote years ago from someone in Appalachia that at pre-ripe Horse made the best pie imaginable.