Do Triploid apples pollinate other triploid apples?

I know they won’t pollinate diploid apples, but do they pollinate a different triploid?
John S

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Triploids are Pollen-sterile non-pollinating.


The ideal situation for reproduction is diploid,diploid but your apples still get pollinated if you have diploid, diploid, triploid (aka polyploidy). See this link on ploidy Ploidy - Wikipedia


Thank you both.

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What I find so amazing about triploid apple trees is not that they have largely useless pollen, but that they set seed at all! How does that work?

For that matter, why isn’t triploid fatal?

In my yard the Rambour Franc tree (triploid) produced nice apples with few mature seeds this season. It seems to be a function of the cultivar, but this is it’s first bearing season. Perhaps when another pollen source comes available more seeds will fill out. I have found readily usable seeds in others that are known to be triploid: Belle de Boskoop, Winesap and Suntan come to mind.

Claygate Pearmain and Twenty Ounce are both triploids, and both bloomed, although I am still not 100% sure it is Twenty Ounce. It set 7 amazing fruit that match descriptions and photos. Its seeds were fat and a medium brown when ripe.
Claygate will not be allowed to bear fruit until much larger, which could be a while at the rate it grows here.


I have read that although Winesap is not technically triploid, the pollen is so weak that it is considered triploid. It doesn’t have the big apples and leaves like most triploids, but the pollination effect is the same.
John S


My understanding is that triploid apples can have bigger leaves and fruit, but that isn’t a hard and fast rule. Claygate Pearmain is triploid, but neither its foliage nor its fruit average large. I have two whips of it in my yard: the leaves are actually less than average size.
I hope you are right when it comes to Rambour Franc. I thinned it to less than a fourth of the fruit set this, its first year bearing, and the fruit was mostly small (still good!)
I hadn’t read Winesap is not actually triploid. Where did you find that? Interesting, since Winesap has been a favorite of mine life-long.

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Triploid apples don’t have trouble getting pollinated by diploids. The problem is that the Triploids cannot return the favor.

Imagine a scenario with two apple trees on a deserted island: one Gravenstein (triploid) and one Yellow Transparent (diploid).

Both apples are early-blossoming. Bugs on the island visit both trees’ flowers.

Yellow Transparent’s male pollen would fertilze Gravenstein’s flowers. But the pollen-sterile Gravenstein would not be able to fertilize Yellow Translarent’s flowers.

Therefore, every year, Gravenstein would bear apples, while Yellow Trans would not (assuming the insects do their thing). Yellow Trans would not bear apples because Gravenstein failed to fertilize it.

If a third tree were planted in proximity that happened to be another early-blossoming diploid (such as Black Oxford, for example), then ALL THREE trees would get pollinated and bear fruit. Black Oxford pollen would fertilize Yellow Trans flowers. And Yellow Trans pollen would fertilze Black Oxford flowers. Pollen from both Yellow Trans and Black Oxford would fertilize Gravenstein flowers.

Then… if the Yellow Trans tree died… the Black Oxford would discontinue producing apples in subsequent years because the sterile Gravenstein would continue to fail to pollinate anything.


Matt-That is EXACTLy my understanding of the situation.
John S

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I thought a trip would need two other sources of pollen, one wouldn’t be enough?
Maybe it would be pollinated by one self fertile variety, like a Grimes Golden? But if there’s just regular diploids around, it would need two of them?

Regarding Winesap’s, the ones I’ve seen have massive fruits. The other trip I’ve seen, a Jonagold, seems to be normal sized, tho.

We planted a Winesap last year that we got from Lowe’s in a 5gal pot. It was about 6ft tall at the time, and now it’s at least 10ft tall. So, I hope we can get some apples off it next year. There are other diploids around it, so I’m pretty sure it’ll get pollinated.

Generally speaking:

You only need 3 trees if you want to have apples on each tree.
1 tree gets no apples.
1 diploid and 1 triploid gets apples on the triploid (edited).
2 diploids and a triploid and you’re set, assuming the bloom at the same time.
2 triploids and a diploid, you get apples on the two triploids.
10 triploids, no apples.

Triploids and diploids are both receptive to viable pollen from another cultivar. Diploids provide pollen, triploids don’t.


Stayman, a seedling of Winesap, is often called Stayman Winesap. Those I’ve seen average nearly twice the size of Winesap - and lighter but recognizable flavor. There is a farmer I know who refers to his Stayman trees as Winesap, and I can no longer bring him samples of fruit from a true Winesap - smaller, deeper yellow flesh, way more flavor - because the new owners cut down the tree.

That was a sad day, when I drove by and saw empty space where the tree had stood all my life.

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You can say that again! Thanks for the laugh. Now, can I name ten triploids off the top of my head?

Rambour Franc/Summer Rambo
Belle de Boskoop
Arkansas Black
Rhode Island Greening
Twenty Ounce/Blessing
Claygate Pearmain
Cats Head/Hogsnout
Ashmead’s Kernel
Orleans Reinette



OK, the real test of your apple smarts would be to name off 10 self fertile varieties!

I can name three:

Grimes Golden
Golden Delicious

Since GD is an offspring of GG, I guess I really just named two. We planted two GG last year and an Alkie this year. There’s a historical marker over across the border in WV where supposedly the first GD was discovered. Grimes’ is a popular variety in these parts, that’s why I planted a couple of them.

Speaking of Winesap’s, I’ve seen Stayman’s and Stark Winesap trees next to each other and the reg WS seemed to have bigger fruits. I think I like the Stayman’s better, but they’re both fine apples. I hope my Lowe’s WS is what the tag says it is.


Self fertile?

The three already mentioned: Grimes Golden, mother to Golden Del. and Alkmene, then
Cox Orange Pippin and its bud-sports: Queen Cox and Cherry Cox (probably others)
Court Pendu Plat
Court Pendu Rose (pretty sure these are separate; bloom dates and flavor profiles differ)
Médaille d’Or
Wolf River
Granny Smith
Hewes Crab
Rev. W. Wilks
Winter Banana


Golden Delicious is a seedling - or at least that is the best estimate - of Grimes Golden. They are distinct cultivars - no one knows the pollen parent of GD. So yes, you named three.

A question about crab apples. Do they usually have a longer bloom period than regular apples? And is that a big reason why folks put some in their orchard, for these pollination aspects? I know some grow them just because they like the fruit.

I’m curious as to whether there are triploid crabs? Or is it not in their nature (or genetics, I guess) to be as such?

I’m prob done buying any more apple trees, but what are some of the more tasty crabapples? I hear good things about Wickson, but what are some of the others? I suppose crabs are not something that’d be good to eat a lot of at once, like some other fruits.

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I usually just add a branch, because, like you said, you aren’t going to eat 34 crabapples in a row. I always thought the increased pollination was because they are smaller, so more flowers/pollination can fit into the tree and because they are closer to the original non-bred apple, but I have no scientific basis for that.

My favorite is Wickson. I also like Dolgo, Callaway, Maypole Spire, Centennial, and I am experimenting with some others that I haven’t harvested yet.
John S

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Yes, they tend to have long bloom periods, yes orchards use them for that reason. With out a doubt there are triploid crabs. But that is simply because triploid occurs commonly in nature and often manifest as large fruit in apple trees.

Technically there is no such thing as a crab apple. A crab apple is any apple smaller then 2.5in. Cultivated crab apples are simply selected for those characteristics, long bloom, numerous flowers.

The 4 native us malus species,Malus fusca, Malus coronaria, Malus angustifolia and Malus ioensis. All fall into the crab catagory but I have never heard of cultvars of them. And if any of there genetics have been used in cultivar it’s likely for disease resistance and climate acclimation, not to improve crab apple fruit.


Thanks. So, since triploid apples tend to be bigger, than a trip crab would no longer be classified as a crab?

I was close to pulling the trigger on a Wickson crab, but never did. I’ve heard it’s a very fine fruit. What are so of the other more tasty crabs? Still, I wouldn’t mind trying to graft one or two onto one of our existing apples. I assume a crab would graft to a reg apple without an issues.

Yes, I’ve read that a lot of the newer disease resistant apples have a crabapple in their lineage for scab resistance.