Picking Apples in the National Parks, Some History

The Capitol Reef Red, an original from Capitol Reef National Park. NPS image.

There's a lot of history growing in the National Park System, some of which you can pluck off a tree. An apple tree, that is. Stroll the orchards of Capitol Reef National Park or Hopewell Furnace National Historic site and you'll be surrounded by the fruits of history.

To help you navigate the history, the parks have produced brochures to help you tell a Ben Davis from a Capitol Reef Red from a Smokehouse. Here, thanks to the staff at the two parks, is some of that history.

Capitol Reef National Park

Ben Davis. The origin of the Ben Davis apple dates back to 1799 when William Davis and John Hills brought a young seedling from either Virginia or North Carolina to where they settled at Berry’s Lick in Butler County, Kentucky. Others have placed its origin in Washington County, Arkansas, about 1880. Captain Ben Davis, kin to the other two men, planted the tree on his land where it began to attract attention. They took root cuttings and planted them out as a full orchard, which provided root suckers to many others passing though Kentucky. By the end of the Civil War, millions of Ben Davis suckers had spread throughout the South and Midwest.

Apple historian Tom Burford reminds us that this tree was called Mortgage Lifter by growers who got out of debt by shipping this apple down the Mississippi and out on ships from New Orleans. As it spread south, north and west, many of its growers forgot the Ben Davis epithet for this apple, and offered it a different folk name in each locale where it took root. Many local synonyms for this variety include Baltimore Pippin, Baltimore Red, Baltimore Red Streak, Ben Davis, Carolina Red Cheek, Carolina Red Streak, Funkhauser, Hutchinson’s Pippin, Joe Allen, Kentucky Pippin, Kentucky, Kentucky Red Streak, Kentucky Streak, New York Pippin, Red Pippin, Robinson’s Streak, Tenant Red, Victoria Pippin, Victoria Red, and Virginia Pippin. It is grown in northern Arizona as well as southern Utah, where the fruiting season is long enough to mature the variety properly.

The fruit of Ben Davis is typically uniform in shape and size, which is medium to large. Its shape is usually round, especially at the base, though infrequently it is elliptical, conic or oblong. While maturing, its clear yellow or greenish skin is tough, and thick enough that it seldom bruises. Its skin is quite waxy, glossy or bright, and smooth. The green or yellow basal color is overwhelmed by a wash of splashes and stripes of bright carmine, often with subtle dots of white or brown. At maturity, it is a deep carmine or red striped apple. The flesh is whitish, tinged slightly yellow. It is somewhat coarse, dry and wooly, not very crisp, but firm, slightly aromatic, juicy, mildly sub-acidic, and keeps for over a year. However, its rather unspectacular taste and texture has long been the butt of jokes among apple enthusiasts. Madonna Hunt of Boulder Utah quipped, “Those Ben Davis apples? Yes, they were good keepers, because no one wanted to eat them!” Tom Vorbeck put it bluntly, “It keeps like a rock, but it’s not a very good rock.” Keith Durfey apprenticed to an apple expert who claimed he could be blindfolded and still tell any variety by flavor. His students at the end of a long sampling gave him a piece of cork. He sat blindfolded for a long while, then quipped, “You may have stumped me for once, but I believe that’s the flavor of one of those old Ben Davis apples!”

At Capitol Reef National Park, Ben Davis apple trees are located in the Nels Johnson Orchard.

Braeburn. The Braeburn heirloom originated in New Zealand and was introduced into North America in 1952. Though the parentage is unknown, it is speculated to be a chance seedling or triploid sport of Lady Hamilton.

The high quality fruit is medium to large in size. The skin is yellow, overlain by an orange-red blush. The flesh is crisp with a tangy flavor. The triploid tree is fast growing, matures and bears fruit very early, but has low vigor, and is susceptible to scab, mildew, and fire blight.

Braeburn apple trees are located in the Jackson Orchard of Capitol Reef National Park.

Capitol Reef Red. This is a newly recognized variety known only from Capitol Reef National Park’s historic Fruita orchards near Torrey, Utah. Scion wood has been propagated by the Van Well nursery in Wenatchee, Washington, and by Dan Lehrer of Flatwood Flower Farm, of Sebastopol California for future distribution. It was discovered in the Fruita orchards around 1994, and propagated to produce some 80 trees.

Capitol Reef Red is similar to the Golden and Red Delicious apples in its conic shape with deep calyx basin and distinct bumps on its base. Fruits are colored with a pale yellow background, overlain with a bright crimson splash on the exposed cheek and shoulders. The pleasantly sweet, crisp, and juicy flesh is best suited for fresh eating, but is also a good candidate for pies. It is not tart enough for use in cider making. The trees are spur-type fruiting similar to Oregon Spur or other spur-type Red Delicious sports. It is a prolific bearer that can become so heavily laden with nearly stem-less fruit that its limbs bend toward the ground. This “new” heirloom” is uniquely adapted to the canyon microclimates of Utah’s slickrock country. It is honored on the Slow Food Ark of Taste.

The Capitol Reef Red apple trees are growing in the Jackson Orchard at Capitol Reef National Park. The last few rows on the north side of the Jackson Orchard all appear to be Capitol Reef Red apples. However, there are either numerous similar, but distinct varieties there, or the genetics of the Capitol Reef Red apple are not completely stable. Either way, apple trees 852 and 853 are what we consider to be the “true” Capitol Reef Red, and are the trees that were genetically analyzed.

Empire. This apple is a cross between McIntosh and Red Delicious, developed in 1945 by Dr. Roger Way at the New York Experiment Station in Geneva. Dr. Way introduced it in 1966. This apple is easy to grow and produces annual crops of attractive fruit that keep fairly well. Empire is best suited for fresh eating and dessert, but it is also a good apple for cider.

The Empire apple is medium in size, but small if not thinned. Its shape is round to roundish conical. The typically dark red fruit may turn yellow on the under-side, and has creamy white, sweet, crisp, juicy flesh. It ripens in mid September.

The trees of Empire are vigorous, upright, and come into bearing at an early age. Their branches form wide angles and strong crotches between branches that help to reduce limb loss during heavy fruit set. The tree has the tendency towards a spur-type habit, producing fruit close to the branch.

Empire apple trees can be found in the Jackson Orchard of Capitol Reef National Park.

Fuji. Modern apple geneticist H. Niitsi of the Horticultural Research Institute of Morioka, Japan developed the Fuji cultivar from two reputable and deeply rooted American parents, Ralls Janet and Red Delicious. Ralls originated, according to Beach in The Apples of New York, 1905, in the nursery of Caleb Ralls, an acquaintance of Thomas Jefferson, in Amherst County, Virginia, before 1805. Fuji quickly became an international success, first in Japan and China, then in warmer regions of the United States that have sufficiently long growing seasons.

Not much to look at compared to some varieties, its sweet taste and crisp texture are sufficiently appealing in the modern market. Its cream-colored flesh is firm, fine-grained and altogether distinctive, filling the mouth with sweetness and juiciness. Fuji comes out on top in many flavor competitions among late-maturing varieties. However, Fuji requires a long, relatively warm frost-free season for it to be ready for harvest, and is therefore considered a “desert” not a “dessert” apple. Fuji is regarded as the best keeper of any sweet variety, and the apples retain their toothsome firmness for up to a year if refrigerated.

Fugi apple trees are located in the Jackson Orchard of Capitol Reef National Park.

Ginger Gold. Ginger Gold is a patented cultivar that appeared as a chance seedling in the orchards of Clyde and Ginger Harvey of Lovingston, Virginia. The story is told by the Harveys that it appeared in a young Winesap orchard after the devastating hurricane Camille that killed more than 100 in the Lovingston area in 1969.

Its large, somewhat oblong but uniform fruit has a thin skin that can bruise. Upon ripening, its skin turns an attractive yellow tinged with beige-pink, with a blush on the exposed cheek. Ripening six weeks before its kin, the Gibson Golden, its flavor has a distinctive spice-like aftertaste. A fair keeper, Ginger Gold keeps in storage for up to six months.

Ginger Gold apple trees can be found in the Jackson Orchard, and in The Mott orchard of Capitol Reef National Park.

Golden Delicious. Unrelated to Red Delicious, the Golden Delicious also began as a volunteer seedling, perhaps of Grimes Golden, on the hillside farm of A.H. Mullins near Bomont in Clay County, West Virginia. It was originally called Mullin’s Yellow Seedling. In 1914, William P. Stark bought rights to the tree’s legacy for five thousand dollars, renamed it, and began to offer Golden Delicious through the Stark Brothers Nursery out of Missouri. Sure that it would be commercially in demand, Stark protected his investment in a rather formidable, locked cage that was equipped with a burglar alarm to discourage would-be bio-pirates. Some nurseries that offer the apple under the name Yellow Delicious breached the Stark patent.

Tall and almost conical in shape, this apple tends to be large. The skin of a ripened Golden Delicious is pale yellow and thin. It will, however, have a chartreuse hue if picked prematurely or a darkened yellow hue if picked when over ripe. Its flesh is firm, crisp and juicy, but may be stained with red. Once you’ve been introduced to it, its flavor and fragrance remain unmistakable. The Golden Delicious strikes some cooks as somewhat bland for use in cooking, but it can be used for pies and sauce with little or no sugar. Its distinctive aroma imbues sweet ciders, both hard and soft.

It ripens relatively late in many places, from mid-September through late October. Its skin is quick to shrivel if the harvest is left at room temperature, but Golden Delicious often keep well if refrigerated in a crisper or in a plastic bag.

Golden Delicious trees are located in the Amasa Pierce Orchard, the Chesnut Orchard, Gifford Farm, Jackson Orchard, Max Krueger Orchard, and The Mott Orchard at Capitol Reef National Park.

Gibson Golden. This is a smooth-skinned selection of Golden Delicious apple that shows less russeting than the standard Golden Delicious. The tree is vigorous, productive and easy to handle. The fruit ripens in October. For further details, see Golden Delicious (above).

At Capitol Reef, the Gibson Golden is planted in the Jackson Orchard.

Granny Smith. The first green apple to become well known among American consumers, Granny Smith was discovered by Mrs. Anne “Granny” Smith growing on a creek in Ryde, New South Wales, Australia in the early 1860s. It appears to have been a chance seedling from some discarded French crab apples that Granny and her husband Thomas Smith brought back from either Sydney, or the island of Tasmania, depending on who told the tale. When it fruited in 1868, Granny used its fruit for cooking, but her grandson claimed it was better eaten fresh. The Smith family began to propagate it in their orchard and market its fruit in Sydney, where it rapidly gained popularity. It began to be exported to England in the 1930s, and soon afterward was introduced to France, Spain, Italy and the United States.

Granny Smith fruit are medium to large sized, with a somewhat rectangular or truncate conical shape. Its bottom is convex, and ribbed at the eye. Its skin ranges from a grassy green to yellow green, with a fine-netted russet appearing at the time of ripeness. Its flesh is greenish to yellowish white in color, and its texture is crisp, and so firm that it is bruise-resistant. Its mild flavor is subacid, and moderately sweet. The harvest season for Granny Smith is relatively late in the fall. Considered to be excellent both for eating fresh and for cooking, Granny Smith keeps its texture during baking and does not get mushy. Regarding its firmness, apple historian Roger Yepsen goes further, by claiming that it is “resilient as a tennis ball…holds up well in shipping [and] will tolerate a half year of cold storage.” Not suited for cider, it is fine for pies.

At Capitol Reef, a Granny Smith apple tree can be found in the Max Krueger Orchard.

Grimes Golden. New Orleans traders, who obtained the variety from Thomas Grimes of West Virginia in 1804, brought this notable cider variety to the nursery trade. The medium to large-sized golden-yellow fruit is crisp, juicy and sugary. Grimes Golden is a highly esteemed dessert apple, as well as a highly prized cider variety. It is noted for its high alcohol content (12% in unblended ciders), and excellent flavor. The apple does not keep well, making it undesirable for commercial orchards.

The medium-vigor tree is self-fruitful, and produces abundant crops biennially, or semi-annually beginning at a young age.

At Capitol Reef, there is a single Grimes Golden apple tree growing in the Chesnut Orchard.

Jonathan. This classic American apple, kin to Esopus Spitzenburg, originated in 1826 as a sport on the farm of Mr. Philip Rick of Woodstock, Ulster County, New York, where the original tree stayed alive at least until 1845. The first published account, which we find of the Jonathan, is that given by Judge J. Buel of Albany, New York, who then listed it as the (New) Esopus Spitzenburg, with the synonym Ulster Seedling. A bit later, Buel simply called it the New Spitzenburg, but the next name he gave it superseded all others: Jonathan, in honor of Jonathan Hasbrouck, who had first called the judge’s attention to the unique traits of this sport, which he had noticed growing on a scrubby hillside on the old Rick farm. It spread quickly after that, soon ranking in the top six of American apples in terms of sales. It is now grown not only in North America, but in Italy, Austria and Poland as well.

This popular heirloom and commercially-renowned apple can be exceedingly beautiful at maturity, though it is not as large or as good of a keeper as its Esopus Spitzenburg parent. The shape of this apple may be round, slightly conic or ovate, and medium to small in size, or somewhat truncate with a deep furrowed bottom basin or cavity. Its tough but thin, smooth skin may be pale yellow in undertones that are completely covered with deep carmine hues. These hues deepen into lively reddish-purples on the side exposed to the sun, and clear pale yellows on its shaded side and in its basin. If it does not get full exposure to the sun, the skin may be red-striped in appearance, exposing minute dots. Its flesh may be whitish or pale yellow, tinged with a bit of red. The flesh is usually firm, stained with red, moderately fine, crisp, tender and juicy. Its flavor varies from tart to mild, often aromatic, sprightly subacidic. It is usually of excellent quality whether eaten fresh as a dessert, cooked into sauces, or used for tart ciders.

Jonathan exceeds many of its Spitzenburg kin in hardiness, productivity, health and vigor. It is widely adaptable for growth in a wide range of climates, where the trees can be either moderately vigorous or slow in their growth and maturation. The trees may have a round or spreading shape, sometimes with drooping, dense branches.

The Jonathan can be found in the Jackson Orchard, the Max Krueger Orchard, The Mott Orchard, and Nels Johnson Orchard of Capitol Reef National Park.

Lodi. Also known as Improved Transparent, R. Wellington selected Lodi in 1911 at the New York Testing Association, which later became the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station of Geneva. It appears to have been a cross between Montgomery and White Transparent. It remains extremely popular in some regions, and is available from more than three-dozen nurseries.

Lodi is a large green cooking apple whose skin is actually clear yellow when examined closely. It has firm white flesh that is mildly subacidic, so that it is simultaneously sweet and tart; it is crisp and juicy. When it reaches full size, the fruit is irresistible for pies, for fine, frothy white applesauce, and fresh eating.

It ripens early on large, dependably productive trees that require cross-pollination. They are resistant to apple scab. The fruit are less vulnerable to bruising than are Yellow Transparent.

The Lodi apple historically grew in Fruita, but is currently extinct in the area.

McIntosh. This heirloom is originally from Dundela, Dundas County, Ontario, Canada. It was discovered by immigrant John McIntosh near Dundela in 1811. Its local nursery propagation began around 1835, but John’s son, Allan McIntosh, did not introduce it into trade until 1870. The McIntosh is derived either from a Saint Lawrence seedling, or a cross between a Fameuse and a Detroit Red. McIntosh has in turn fathered many well-known varieties, such as Cortland, Empire, Macoun, and Spartan. The fruit is good for fresh eating, pies, and makes an aromatic cider. It was the replacement variety for the great Baldwin orchards of New England that were destroyed by the 40 degrees below zero temperatures during the winter of 1933-1934.

McIntosh fruit are medium to large, and quite uniform in shape and size. It is typically round or oblate, somewhat angular, and strongly or weakly ribbed. Its skin is thin and readily separates from the flesh. The skin is noticeably tender, smooth and therefore easily bruised. Its underlying skin color is clear whitish-yellow or greenish, but it is deeply blushed with bright red, and striped with carmine. Fruit exposed to the sun is richly colored, dark, almost purplish-red, so much so that the carmine stripes may be completely obscured. The flesh of a McIntosh is white or slightly tinged with yellow, sometimes veined with red. This apple is firm, fine-textured, crisp, tender, very juicy, agreeably aromatic, perfumed, sprightly, and subacidic. It becomes mild and a bit sweet when very ripe, but then lacks firmness suitable for packing and long distance transport. It is among the best apples.

Maturing from October to December in late-frosting zones, the McIntosh produces a reliable crop that begins to bear early, before offering an extended season of fruit. It may yield good crops biennially or even annually. However, the crop ripens unevenly, making it suited for two or three periodic pickings two to three weeks apart.

At Capitol Reef, McIntosh trees can be found in the Nels Johnson Orchard.

Prime Gold. This patented cultivar appears to have fallen out of favor with nurserymen, and was last available from Van Well Nursery in Wenatchee, Washington, which has recently dropped it from its catalog. The fruit are elongated, golden yellow, and russet free. The tree tends to be well structured with wide branch angles.

Prime Gold can be found in the Jackson Orchard at Capitol Reef National Park.

Red Astrachan. This widely distributed heirloom originated on the Volga River in Russia several centuries ago. Swedish botanist P.J. Bergius first noted it in 1780, having been grown in Sweden for some time. It was introduced to Western Europe and England by 1816, and then crossed the ocean to the US in 1835. Since its arrival in the United States, this heirloom has picked up some 75 additional folk names as synonyms: Abe Lincoln, American Red, American Rouge, Anglesea Pippin, Anglese Pippin, Astracan, Astracan Rosso, Astracan Rouge, Astrachan, Astrakhan, Beauty of Whales, Carmin de Juin, Castle Leno Pippin, Cerven Astrahan, Deterding’s Early Deterling’s Early, Duke of Devon, Hamper’s American, Rother Astrachan, Transparent Rouge, and Waterloo. The name Abe Lincoln came from its long association with the Lincoln home in Springfield, Illinois, where this apple became available during Lincoln’s own lifetime, and two trees have continued to be grown in the backyard at the Lincoln Home National Historic Site near the Visitors Center at South Seventh Street in Springfield and at a nearby nursery.

Red Astrachan is a medium size, very beautiful early summer apple. Valued for home use as a culinary apple before it is fully ripe, and as it ripens and mellows, as a dessert apple. Tree comes into bearing at a young age and is a reliable, often biennial cropper. The fruit lacks uniformity, perishes quickly, and the crop matures unevenly, making it ill adapted for commercial planting. The fruit is medium, sometimes large, but not very uniform in size or shape. Roundish to oblate, inclined to conical, somewhat ribbed, and a little unequal. Thin skin, moderately tender, smooth, pale yellow or greenish, overspread with light and dark red splashes, and irregularly striped with deep crimson or carmine, and covered with a distinct bluish bloom. Flesh is white, and often tinged with red. Rather fine, tender, crisp, juicy, brisk subacid, aromatic, sometimes astringent, good to very good. Its season is from late July to September.

Red Astrachan apple trees are located in the Nels Johnson Orchard of Capitol Reef National Park.

Red Delicious. One variety that needs no introduction is Red Delicious, the most widely grown apple in the world. It possibly originated from a seedling rootstock after the scion had broken off a graft on the farm of Jesse Hiatt of Peru, Iowa. It was first called Hawkeye for the Hawkeye State of Iowa, and other lesser-known selections of Hawkeye still persist. This particular selection, championed by the Stark Brothers of Missouri after 1895, has been called “a triumph of style over substance, good looks over taste.” More than thirty-five variants of the Red Delicious are now marketed, from Ace Spur and Bisbee, to Roan and Ultra Red, but most of them have the same fatal flaw of exuding more glamour than flavor.

This is a big apple, with thick, bitter skin that remains intensely red even when it has turned to mush inside. As it matures, its round shape becomes elongated, so that at maturity it is tall and tapered. It has fine-grained, crisp, slightly tart, juicy, yellow flesh that becomes tender, then tastelessly pulpy as it undergoes the extended storage that commercial markets put it through. This apple ranks at the bottom of the barrel when cooked, but remains popular as a dessert apple among those who have never ventured to taste anything else. Because these trees are prolific and fast growing, it plagues the continent and displaces many worthier apples. Like an over-the-hill Hollywood actor, Delicious retains its cheerful good looks long after all real taste has departed from the mealy pulp beneath its thick skin.

The Red Delicious has been planted in the following orchards of Capitol Reef National Park: Amasa Pierce, Behunin Grove, Chesnut Orchard, Gifford Farm, Holt Orchard, the Jackson Orchard, the Max Krueger Orchard, the Merin Smith Place, The Mott Orchard, and the Tine Oyler Place.

Red Delicious Oregon Spur II. This cultivar is a patented selection of Red Delicious. The fruit are large and of excellent shape. The skin is bright red with dark striping. The pure white flesh is of better quality than its parent. Trees are vigorous and early bearing. Tend to be of the spur type. For further detail, see Red Delicious (above).

Oregon Spur apple trees are planted in the Jackson Orchard of Capitol Reef National Park.

Rhode Island Greening. The Rhode Island Greening originated in the vicinity of Newport, Rhode Island. Here, there is a place known as Green’s End, where Mr. Green, an orchardist who loved to raise apple trees from seed, kept a tavern. Among the trees that came up in Green’s orchard was one which bore a large green apple, hence the double meaning of this heirloom’s name. Scions from this tree were in such demand in the early 1700s by Green’s tavern’s guests that his prized tree died eventually from excessive cutting. As its scions were dispersed far and wide, they were called by the following folk names: Burlington Greening, Greening, Green Newton Pippin, Jersey Greening, and just plain Rhode Island. Cuttings were sent to London and, from there, to many parts of Western Europe in the early 1800s, and it was widely grown throughout the United States in the nineteenth century.

This medium to large-sized apple begins autumn as a waxy, deep grass green, but later, as it ripens, it develops yellow hues with brownish-red blushes and greenish-white dots. It may take on a dull blush and occasionally develops a rather bright red cheek but never stripes. Its shape varies from round to oblate to conical and elliptical. It is slightly ribbed. Its skin is moderately thick, tough, and smooth. The firm yellow flesh is moderately fine-grained, crisp, tender, juicy, rich, and sprightly subacidic, with its own peculiar flavor suitable for tart ciders.

The Rhode Island Greening produces reliable, abundant crops in many localities. It is generally regarded because of its acidity as one of the very best cooking apples grown in the U.S., nearly on par with Esopus Spitzenburg and its more recent kin, Jonathan. It is used for many culinary purposes and for fresh desserts. Hovey claimed that:

As a cooking apple, the Greening is unsurpassed; and as a dessert fruit of its season, has few equals. To some tastes it is rather acid; but the tenderness of its very juicy flesh, the sprightliness of its abundant juice, and the delicacy of its rich fine flavor is not excelled by any of the numerous varieties that we at present possess. It ripens up of a fine mellow shade of yellow, and its entire flesh, when well matured, is of the same rich tint.

A triploid, it is a poor pollen producer that should be grown with two different pollen-producing varieties. The tree does not come into bearing when it is young, but is vigorous and long-lived. Its form is wide spreading, somewhat drooping, and rather dense. The fruit hangs well on the tree until it begins to ripen. The tree has the tendency to form a rather dense canopy in fertile soils, so special care should be taken while pruning in order to keep the head sufficiently open so that the light may reach the foliage in all parts of the tree. However, the orchard keeper should avoid cutting out large branches from the center of the tree thereby exposing the remaining limbs to injury by sunscald. It is better to thin the top every year, by removing many of the smaller branches to make it uniformly open. This keeps the longest fruit-laden branches from ending up so close to the ground that they interfere with the free circulation of the air beneath the tree.

At Capitol Reef, Rhode Island Greening apple trees can be found in the Mott Orchard.

Rome Beauty. Originating with Zebulon, Joel and H.N. Gillett in Rome Township, Lawrence County, Ohio, the original Rome Beauty tree was bought in 1827 from Israel Putnam, a nurseryman in nearby Marietta. It was first brought to the attention of fruit growers at an Ohio Fruit Convention in 1848, and later distributed across the United States, Europe and Australia. Its synonyms include Rome, Starbuck, and Gilette’s Seedling. There are at least nine commercially available variants of Rome Beauty, with Red Rome being the most popular one in nursery trade. It was popular with orchardists because it is late blooming and thus a dependable producer in areas with late frosts.

Rome Beauty fruit are medium to very large, round to slightly conical to oblong, and often faintly ribbed. They can be symmetrical or slightly unequal but almost always have a large deep, furrowed cavity. Their thick skin changes from solid yellow-green to carmine red, without ever becoming russeted. Rome Beauty skin is thick, tough, smooth, and highly colored, with numerous small dots. Its flesh may be almost pure white, or have a hint of yellow- green; it is firm-fleshed, fine-grained or a little coarse, always crisp and juicy. However aromatic Rome Beauty flesh becomes, it is mildly subacid, passing in flavor but never really excellent in quality. Rome Beauty stands handling and is a good keeper, maintaining its qualities in cold storage as late as May. Beauty trees are strong growers and attain good size in the orchard. At first, the tree form is upright but later it rounds out, becoming spreading and drooping, with many slender, bending lateral branches.

Rome Beauty apples grow in the Gifford Farm and the Nels Johnson Orchards of Capitol Reef National Park.

Rubinette. Walter Hauenstein of Rafz, Switzerland near the German border, raised this hybrid. Also known as the Rafzubin cultivar, this is a patented cross between Golden Delicious and Cox’s Orange Pippin. These medium-sized handsome fruit have a thin skin of a golden color that is overlain with bright red striping and subtle russeting. Handsome when sliced, with a rich blend of sugars and acids, its yellow flesh has an intense honeyed flavor. Its growth characteristics are similar to Golden Delicious, and like its parent, it is a good pollinator. Only two nurseries currently carry this variety, one in Canada, the other, in Washington State.

Rubinette apple trees have been planted in the Jackson orchard at Capitol Reef National Park.

Sixteen Ounce Cooking. This triploid variety is not synonymous with the diploid 20 Ounce Cooking. However, there is no written documentation for an apple named the 16 Ounce cooking. Whether this apple is a local variety or a misnamed variety remains unclear at this point, however additional genetic work may lend further insight into this apple. Regardless, the tree is heavy bearer of medium-sized green fruits splashed with red on the exposed cheek. Tart fruits are well suited for cooking as implied by the name.

The Sixteen Ounce Cooking tree grows in the Merin Smith Place in Capitol Reef National Park.

Winesap. Although it is one of the oldest and most popular apples in America, the origin of the Old Fashion Winesap has been obscured. Dr. James Mease of Moore’s Town, New Jersey first recorded it in 1804, who noted that Samuel Coles had already grown it there for some time. It had appeared in trade by 1817, when Coxe spoke of it as being “the most favored cider fruit in West Jersey.” Also, it was known in colonial times in Virginia. Other folk names suggest different origins: Holland’s Red Winter, Royal Red of Kentucky, and Texan Red. Like various other older heirlooms, the Winesap has produced many seedlings, which have been selected for characters slightly different from those of their parental stock. The best known of these are Arkansas or Arkansaw, Arkansas Black, Paragon, also known as Black Twig and Stayman.

This is a round, medium-sized apple. Its skin is moderately thick, tough, smooth, glossy, and deeply red. It may have purplish-red stripes and blotches that are even darker, and rather small, scattered, whitish dots, especially toward the cavity, but the prevailing effect remains a bright deep red. Its flesh is crisp and juicy, tinged with yellow, with reddish veins; it remains very firm, rather coarse, and sprightly subacid. The tree can be vigorous and is a remarkably regular cropper. It grows best on light but rich, deep soils and does not fare well on heavy clays or in low, damp locations. It is a good shipper and stands heat well before going into storage. Winesaps are great for cooking applesauce, dessert, and cider. It is one of the few apple varieties that grow well throughout all apple-growing regions.

Winesap apple trees can be found in the Mott Orchard and the Nels Johnson Orchard of Capitol Reef National Park.

Winter (Yellow) Banana. The Winter Banana originated on the farm of David Flory near Adamsboro, Cass County, Indiana, where it was first selected as an heirloom around 1876. The Greening Brothers of Monroe, Michigan introduced it into commercial trade in 1890. Its most common synonym is simply Banana.

Winter Banana was one of the most popular varieties for pollination, especially for the pollen-sterile Winesap and its kin. At one time Winter Banana was a variety selected for dehydrating because the slices would stay bright and white after processing.

Its fruit are large and variable in shape, often elliptical and ribbed, with a distinct suture line. Its smooth, tough, waxy skin is colored a clear pale yellow, with beautiful contrasting pinkish-red blush. Its whitish flesh is tinged with yellow, with a characteristic aroma of bananas, and is moderately firm, coarse, crisp, tangy to mildly sub-acid and juicy, of good dessert quality, but is too mild in flavor to excel for culinary uses. The medium-sized tree grows well, has a rather flat, open form with branches that tend to droop. It comes into bearing while young, and then continues to bear modest crops almost annually. In ordinary storage, it keeps until March, but its color is so pale that any bruises show easily.

The Winter Banana apple grows in the Nels Johnson Orchard of Capitol Reef National Park.

Winter Pearmain. This may be the oldest known apple in the English-speaking world, dating back to at least 1200 A.D. in the British Isles. In 1822, Thatcher gave the following account of the Winter Pearmain of the old Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts:

The Winter Pearmain is among the first cultivated apples by the fathers of the old Plymouth colony, and is, undoubtedly, of English descent. Many trees of this kind are now supposed to be more than one hundred years old, and grafted trees from them produce the genuine fruit in great perfection.

Its synonyms include Autumn Pearmain, Campbell, Ducks Bill, Great Pearmain, Green Winter Pearmain, Hertfordshire Pearmain, Old English Pearmain, Old Pearmain (Lindley), Parmain D’Angleterre of Knoop, Parmain d’Hiver, Paramain-Pepping, Pearmain, Pearmain Herefordshire, Pepin Parmain d’Angleterre, Pepin Parmain d’Hiver, Permenes, Permaine, Permein, Platarchium, Sussex Scarlet Parmain, White Winter Pearmain. Unfortunately, several other, distinctive varieties have gone under the name Winter Pearmain both in Europe and in the United States. There is a Red Winter Pearmain that originated in North Carolina and described by the pomologist Warder in 1867.

Its fruit are medium in size, uniform, and tapering to the crown. The skin is smooth, with a grass-green base color that can be a little red on the sunny side, maturing to a pale yellow or a red apple with numerous dots. Its flesh is a rich yellow, fine-grained, crisp, tender and juicy; its flavor is slightly aromatic, pleasantly rich, and always agreeable. It has been the favorite dessert apple in the Midwest for nearly two hundred years, and remains one of the best all-purpose heirlooms. The tree is tall and upright, forming a handsome regular top. It is hardy, widely adaptable and vigorous, and will flourish in a light soil.

At Capitol Reef, Winter Pearmain apple trees grow in the Mott Orchard.

Yellow Transparent. Imported from Russia by the United States Department of Agriculture in 1870, its value was first brought to the attention of Americans by Dr. T. H. Hoskins of Newport, Vermont. It has been disseminated throughout the more northerly apple-growing regions of this country, from New England and the Northern Plains clear to the Pacific Northwest, and is now commonly listed by nurserymen in those regions. Its synonyms include White Transparent and Sultan.

Its fruit is medium to large in size, round ovate to round conic, and slightly ribbed, with unequal sides and a narrow cavity. Its skin is thin, tender, smooth, waxy, dotted and is always transparent but changes color from pale greenish-yellow to an attractive yellowish-white. Its flesh is a crisp, juicy white, moderately firm, fine-grained, tender, sprightly subacid with a light, pleasant flavor. Sliced, it can easily be solar-dried, and is excellent for culinary use and acceptable for dessert.

Maturing early in northern climes, it is a more reliable cropper than many other apples where growing seasons are short. It yields good crops nearly every year, ripening continuously over a period of three or four weeks, so that two or more pickings are required. However, it bruises easily so fruit must be secured while in prime condition and carefully stored. The tree is somewhat vigorous, hardy, healthy, and comes into bearing very young. At first, its form is rather vertical, but with age, it becomes spreading and rather dense.

Yellow Transparent apple trees can be found at the Group Campsite and in the Mott Orchard at Capitol Reef.

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site

Ashmed’s Kernal, valued for cider, and winter eating. It originated in England in the 1700s. Tart when picked, sweetens in storage.

Baldwin, good for eating, cider, and cooking. Discovered on a Massachusetts farm in 1784; once considered “King of Apples.”

Campfield, valued for cider. Noted in 1817, from New Jersey. Large, hardy tree. Fruit keeps well.

Cortland, prized for eating, cider, and cooking. Developed at New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in 1898.

Delicious, good for eating and cider. Discovered in 1881 by Jesse Hiatt of Peru, Iowa; world’s premier apple.

Duchess, good for eating, pies, and sauces. Originated in Russia; brought to America from England in 1835.

Early Harvest, valued for pies, sauces, and desserts, Existed in 1800 according to National Apple Register of U.K.

Golden Russet, good for cider, cooking, and drying. Thought to have originated from an English Russet seed.

Gravenstein, valued for eating, pies, and cooking. Dates to 1790; Danish in origin; believed to have come from the garden of the Duke of Augustenberg, Schleswig-Holstein.

Grimes Golden, an all-purpose apple, good in desserts. Dates to 1832; raised by Thomas Grimes, Brook County, West Virginia.

Jefferis, good for eating. Dates to 1830; originated in Chester County, Pennsylvania on the farm of Isaac Jefferis.

Jonathan, valued for cooking, cider, and eating. First described in 1826; named after Jonathan Basbrouck by Judge Buel; from a farm in Ulster County, New York.

Kerry Irish Pippin, good for eating, and cider. Dates to 1802; from Ireland.

McIntosh, good for cider and eating. Dates to 1798; Discovered by John McIntosh while cutting brush on his farm in Ontario, Canada.

Mother, valued for eating and desserts. Originated in 1840s in Bolton, Massachusetts; seldom planted any more in U.S., but still common in England.

Newtown Pippin, valued for sauces, pies, and cider. Dates to 1759; Said to be a favorite of George Washington; originated in Newtown, Long Island, New York.

Nonesuch, good for eating and desserts. Discovered in Massachusetts in 1830.

Northern Spy, good for eating and desserts. Discovered about 1800 by Herman Chapin in East Bloomfield, New York.

Red Rome, good for baking. Considered best of all the Romes; stores well.

Rhode Island Greening, good for eating, baking and cider. Started from seed in the 1650s by a Mr. Green, a tavern owner in Green’s End, Rhode Island.

Rome, considered an all-purpose apple, good for pies and cider. First identified in 1846; considered one of the best baking apples.

Rome Beauty, another all-purpose apple. Introduced in 1848; stores well.

Roxbury Russet, good for eating, cooking, and cider. Prior to 1649; developed in Roxbury, Massachusetts.

Smokehouse, an all-purpose apple. Dates to 1837; original tree grew up next to a Lancaster County, Pennsylvania smokehouse.

Spitzenburg, good for eating. Dates prior to 1800; New York. Said to be Thomas Jefferson's favorite apple.

Starr, a good baking apple. From a farm in New Jersey in 1878; also known as "Star of the East".

Stayman, good for baking and cider. Introduced in 1866; seedling of Winesap; originated in Kansas.

Summer Rambo, good for eating and applesauce. Originated by at least 1535 near the village of Amiens, France.

Tompkins King, valued for desserts, pies, cider From New York prior to 1804; once grown in California’s Mattole Valley.

Turley Winesap, good for cooking, cider, and applesauce. Grown in New Jersey in 1817. One of the oldest varieties in America.

Wealthy, good for pies and sauces. Dates to 1860; Arose from a cherry crabapple seedling planted by Peter Gideon in Excelsior, Minnesota.

Yellow Bellflower, valued for pies, sauces, and cider. Dates to 1742, found along Crosswicks Creek in Burlington County, New Jersey.

York, good for eating and cooking. Originated in the late 1700s in York, Pennsylvania.

York Imperial, good for baking and cider. Found about 1830 in York, Pennsylvania; stores well.

Comments

The Blue Ridge Parkway is also a source of "old time" apple species. The many home sites and small farms that were located along the Southern Appalachians planted apple trees for kitchen and at times commercial use. It is not uncommon to be hiking through the backcountry and come upon a surprise stand of apple trees. In many cases these apples now serve as a food source for wildlife and a few intrepid hikers.

The tradition of orchards in the mountain region continues with commercial operations that visitors can easily access in the fall for the experience of a fresh picked off the tree treat. Nothing can beat a fresh apple.

There are also small apple orchards in the Elwha Valley of Olympic National Park:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humes_Ranch_Cabin

Bruce W. Bytnar:
The Blue Ridge Parkway is also a source of "old time" apple species. The many home sites and small farms that were located along the Southern Appalachians planted apple trees for kitchen and at times commercial use. It is not uncommon to be hiking through the backcountry and come upon a surprise stand of apple trees. In many cases these apples now serve as a food source for wildlife and a few intrepid hikers.
I think if it was planted, it's probably a domesticated variety, so "species" might not be the right word to describe the differences. They're probably grafted unless their from seed (which in all probability would make the apples only suitable for cider). It's only a select few that are palatable as fresh fruit, and those are propagated via clippings.

Yosemite has a small apple orchard at Curry Village that predates the national park designation. It's in the parking lot, and the apples have become a food source for bears, which sometimes climb on top of vehicles to get to the apples. Every years there's a volunteer picking event to try and limit the bears access, and hopefully the incidents with people. I wasn't aware that there was also another orchard near the stables.

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/upload/Apple.fixed.pdf

http://www.mercedsunstar.com/2010/08/23/1540058/yosemites-apple-harvest-completed.html

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/outposts/2009/08/yosemite-apple-picking.html

It looks like this guy is selecting apples right next to the bear dumpster. It looks like two people in NPS uniforms in the background.

We're glad you have highlighted the value of historic orchards within the NPS System.
Sadly, some historic orchards have been removed based on the mis-guided argument
that these orchards are "exotics" and without any prior homework to research the
correct pome identity. These losses actually occurred at some locations within Redwood NP
by command of the research biologist who had no interest in historic orchard values.
Fortunately, one historic remnant orchard still grows in the prairie at Prairie Creek
Redwoods State Park whose CA. State lands lie outside the "research biologist's territory"