Northern Old Apple ID?

Eight years ago we grafted onto a branch of a wild tree. Thought it was a nice green apple from an old tree we’d cut a scion from. When it fruited it was obviously not from that tree. Searched my old notes and sure enough, that year we’d also cut a scion from another old homestead orchard tree near us. My notes said that graft on a small rootstock didn’t take. Apparently we’d also grafted on this wild tree and it did. So, now I’m wondering what it might be. The orchard is likely from the early/mid 1900’s.



The apples are on the large size, late maturing, distinctly lobed, smooth skinned, no russet, white juicy flesh, fine texture. Rather blah at harvest but more flavor after 2 mos, not sweet or sour, rather like a store Mac but better, sort of average apple taste. Texture is still good first of Jan. (some of my Haralsons and Black Oxfords are getting wrinkled now.) Have one more in storage to see how long it will be good.

It seems I’ve seen an apple photo that looks like this one but don’t know what it was. Any ideas? And a Happy New Year to Everyone!! Sue


Wolf River possibly?


It’s possible, WR’s are common around here, but they aren’t really like the Wolf Rivers I’ve had. I think these have more flavor, not a sweet flavor, smoother skin, whiter flesh. And I don’t remember WR’s being lobed like this. It’s always possible it’s a cross of course, and I’ve only had a couple different Wolf Rivers. Sue



Any idea on what these apples are? You grow more apples than about anyone i know.


Looks similar to Alexander, the parent to WR.


Does the Apple get oily/ waxy in storage?

There is an old French baking apple called Jacques Lebel, which your apple reminds me of. Especially the very short stalk, that can get kind of like a button, as in the foremost apple in your picture. But also the coloring scheme and the shape. I tried googling if this variety ever achieved the jump across the Atlantic to North America and found just one source, which said that it was marketed since 1849 by the Nursery André Leroy in France and exported by them to several countries, including the USA. But since this article did not quote its sources and since I also found no American nurseries selling it, it doesn’t seem to have caught on in the US. So your mystery apple is probably not Jacques Lebel. But since I find the similarity in appearance to be striking, I’ll post some photos of one of mine this fall.

These are smaller than normal because the tree had a) quite a lot of fruit and b) is in a dry place and last summer had some dry phases. The green one is underripe and I only included the picture to show the buttony stalk, that quite a lot of the Jacques Lebel apples have (maybe 30%?)

Edit: found the source for the claim that it was exported to the US. It is a book written by nurseryman Leroy himself, which makes it quite a lot more credible!


Hi Jeremiah, It’s possible but doesn’t sound quite like it. I’ve never eaten an Alexander but descriptions say coarse yellow flesh with russet around the stem. Mine are fine white flesh with no russet. A cross is always possible though - I don’t really know how old the tree is. It’s quite likely there are Alexanders around here based on its hardiness and popularity. This area is full of old orchards. Sue

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That certainly sounds like an interesting apple, and the shape and short stem similar. But no, it isn’t waxy/oily feeling. The skin remains smooth so far. There was a great interest in planting apples in years past and people came from all over so I wouldn’t rule out any source. Except for the climate and hardiness issue. We are in a fairly cold usa zone3 and I wouldn’t guess an apple from France would do well here. I can’t read the French description but I see ripening period of October-December. That would be too late for here since cold weather can begin in October. I know many European apples were trialed when trying to establish orchards and few made it through. But one never knows! And I don’t really know how old this tree is. Sue

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Made me think of Northern Spy, except for being bland at harvest.

If your apple does not get oily it can’t be Jacques Lebel.
Concerning the hardiness and ripening time: we are propably between 6b and 7a here, so there is now way to know if it would be hardy for you. And about the ripening time: it ripens for me between beginning and middle of September. I think he isn’t talking about tree ripening with the between October and December, because then it would not ripen here either. I think he is talking about when the Apple is good to pick (October) and when it is good to eat from storage (until December).

Good luck with finding out what your mystery-apple is!

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I don’t know. Looks a bit like Gravenstein but that’s an early apple.

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@JVD - Yes it does have similarities to Alexander but this one is very smooth and I wouldn’t say it is soft and sweet, also it appears to be a good keeper so far.
@39thparallel - And it does have some similarities to Graavenstein as well, but it is definitely a late apple, and distincly lobed.
It seems to have traits similar to a great many apples! But haven’t seen anything yet that really fits. It could be a seeedling, of course, but it appeared part of the original orchard, and is such a nice apple compared to most seedlings around nere. Unfortunately, i don’t have access to the orchard now so can’t recheck the original tree. Sue

@Sue-MiUPz3 @39thparallel

Your zone 3 so ripening time will be different there which must be factored in.