Friday, October 15, 2010

Ancient Apples in Maine

All around Maine, ancient apple trees are showing their colors. Somewhere out there, some trees have produced a few rare heirloom apple varieties that MOFGA would like to know about. You may have unknowingly seen them in your travels, perhaps not giving them much thought. But, you should. They are some of many rare local varieties that played a key role in Maine’s small scale diversified agriculture for nearly three hundred years. Listed below are some varieties and their likely general locations. We think we may have located three of them, and we are working with folks in different regions of the state to verify the discoveries.
 If you think you know the location of one of these ancient trees, please contact MOFGA Board member, John Bunker.
Variety: Carll Apple Details and likely location: The Carll apple is a classic old variety that originated in Saco. Carll originated about two hundred years ago on the farm of Elias Carll (b. 1787) near the location of the old "Heath Meeting House" in North Saco up Route 112 towards Dayton, perhaps on the Heath Road. All we know is that the Carll Apple was "a superior fruit, highly prized, and sought after for years." There is a small church where the Meeting House might have been. Look for a really ancient tree and you may have found it. Download "Wanted - Alive" poster of Carll Apple.
Variety: Collins Apple Details and likely location: Collins (also called "Cherryfield") is a classic old apple that originated in Cherryfield. Collins originated in 1850 on the farm of Wyman B. Collins and was largely popularized by David W. Campbell. The original tree was still standing in 1907. It was extensively grafted trees in the vicinity of Cherryfield so trees should still be standing in the area. The fruit is large, roundish-conic, yellowish green and washed and splashed on the sunny side with crimson. The flesh is greenish-white, crisp, tender, fine grained, mild and tart. It ripens late, its season being from November to February or perhaps later. Download "Wanted - Alive" poster of Collins (Cherryfield) Apple.
Variety: Franklin Sweet Apple Details and likely location: Franklin Sweet is believed to have orginated in Franklin County. The tree is vigorous and its spreading is productive. The fruit is large, roundish and conical, whitish yellow overlaid with crimson with stripes and spalshes of deeper crimson. This variety was a favorite with many for baking and dessert. Download "Wanted - Alive" poster of Franklin Sweet Apple.

See more wanted posters at

John Bunker writes about apples for the nursery catalog for Fedco Seeds.
Post courtesy of John Bunker.

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