'Interesting' new variety of apple found by chance in woodland

An apple accidentally found in the forest turned out to be an “interesting” new variety.

Nature lover Archie Thomas stumbled upon a lonely apple on a wooded path near his home in early November.

The apple, which Mr. Thomas said was “unlike any other I’ve seen before,” came from a lonely old apple tree in the hedge with a large number of fruits.

A “wild apple hunt” led him to an expert who identified it as a new variety to breed and name.

Mr Thomas, who works for the plant protection organization Plantlife, was determined to identify the unusual apple from the little-visited place in the Nadder Valley in Wiltshire.

He said, “While I’m certainly not a fruit expert, it immediately struck me as very unusual, unlike any apple I’d seen before.

“Excited by the pale and blotchy weirdness, I set out to identify it so that I might one day be able to name it.

“That was the dream, but I had half the suspicion that it was going to turn out to be a lot less exciting than it is.”

After a “wild apple hunt”, during which many fruit experts were surprised by the find, he received help from Plantlife colleagues.

He was then referred to the Royal Horticultural Society’s fruit identification service at RHS Wisley.

RHS fruit specialist Jim Arbury inspected three of the apples and told Mr. Thomas that it was a new variety to propagate and name.

Mr Arbury said it was “a very interesting apple”.

He said: “It is clearly not a planted tree, but a seedling that could be a cross between a cultivated apple and a wild Malus sylvestris, a European crab apple.

“It tastes really good. It’s a cooking apple or dual purpose, you can eat it, it has a bit of acidity, but it has some flavor and some tannin that you have in cider apples. “

Mr Arbury said the apple could be used with others for cider.

He said most of the apple trees come from Bramley’s seedling cook apples grown in gardens or orchards, or sometimes from supermarket apples thrown out of car windows and now growing along streets.

However, he said the apples Mr Thomas sent came from a tree that could be 100 years or older – and was not the result of a modern supermarket apple dropped.

Apple thinks “breathtaking”

Apple trees grown from seeds are all different, so cultivated cultivars or varieties are propagated by taking cuttings from existing trees and grafting them onto rhizome to ensure that the new tree and its apples are the same.

Apples have been grown in this or similar way for thousands of years.

Dr. Trevor Dines of Plantlife said, “Archie has joined a small and select group of people who have discovered something completely new in our natural world.

“I absolutely love apples and Archie’s new find is stunning.

“And what a romantic origin, excavated deep in a forest with ancient roots. We can only speculate how it came about, but that’s the joy of botany – you never know exactly what you’ll find or how it got there.

“These kinds of secrets only serve to deepen our love of the landscape.”

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