Mystery Apple – Neither Baldwin nor Baxter

One of my favourite apples was identified years ago as Baldwin by an old woman who was getting a bit blurry in her memory, and since it more or less fit the written descriptions, that was what I’ve been calling it. Now my aunt has brought me some definite Baldwins and it’s clear the pair of trees I like so much are not Baldwins after all. Real Baldwins are coarser and blander than my mystery tree, and not quite as hard; they are also more pumpkin shaped and lack the deep crimson over-splashing stripes atop their redness, while my mystery is taller than it is wide. Nor, when my aunt brought me Baxters, are they a Baxter, though they are a bit like. The Baxter is also blander than my “barn apple”, as I shall now call it, though it has the crimson splashes. The Baxter had the russetting around the stem, but not as large a patch of it as my mystery. I’m wondering if maybe it might be Blue Pearmain –except I’ve never particularly noticed the distinctive blue bloom a Blue Pearmain is supposed to have.

The middle apple looks more like a Baxter (not shown) than it does a Baldwin, but the texture is wrong. It’s crisper, finer, more tart and more aromatic than the Baxter and far more so than the Baldwin.

Any suggestions? The place it is planted is the colder end of zone 5, I think, if not zone 4. It certainly wouldn’t be anything that wasn’t hardy for zone 5 at least.

Further identifying features:
There’s a fair bit of russetting around the stem, more than the Baxters have. Some years it has those tiny, hard, dark specks in the flesh, almost like inclusions of bark, that are characteristic of Baldwins. The flesh is fine and very hard, quite tart, quite aromatic. They’re a very good keeping apple. They usually ripen late; this year they all fell early because it was a terribly wormy year. The leaves are longer and narrower than the average apple; the twigs are quite dark; the next-year’s-buds in the leaf-nodes in August are tiny and very hard to see, at a time when most of the other trees have obvious, well-formed buds at the base of the leaf-stalk suitable for budding. They have crimson splashes/stripes overtop of their red. The trees are quite old.

And, sigh, my initially successful graft lost all its leaves in August, so I suspect it will not survive the winter. I really like this apple, whatever it is.

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About K.V. Johansen

The author of Blackdog, The Leopard, The Lady, and Gods of Nabban, epic fantasies from Pyr, I also write for teens and children, including the "Torrie", "Warlocks of Talverdin", and "Cassandra Virus" series, and the "Pippin and Mabel" picture books, as well as a couple of short story collections and two works of adult literary criticism on the history of children's fantasy literature. I have a Master's degree in Mediaeval Studies, and read a lot of fantasy, science fiction, and history. Blog at thewildforest.wordpress.com
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2 Responses to Mystery Apple – Neither Baldwin nor Baxter

  1. Jeff says:

    When does it ripen and in what state / climate? Does it bear fruit on the tips or on spurs? What color is the flesh and how old do you think the tree might be?

    • KV Johansen says:

      It ripens late Sept./early Oct. in southern NB (Canada). Fruit is on tips. We now think it was probably Blue Pearmain. The original tree came down in a hurricane two summers ago, but my graft survived migratation when we moved house.

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