Roxbury Russet

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'Roxbury Russet' apples at a market

The 'Roxbury Russet' is an apple cultivar, believed to be the oldest apple cultivar bred in the United States, having first been discovered and named in the mid-17th century in the former Town of Roxbury, part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony southwest of (now part of) Boston.[1] It is known by several other names including 'Boston Russet', 'Putnam Russet', and 'Sylvan Russet'.[2]

It is a greyish-green russet apple known for its good winter-keeping qualities, as well as its suitability for making cider and juice. It is not widely grown or commercially available due to general commercial disfavor for russet varieties; the dull and heavily marked face makes it hard to sell now.[1] The yellow-green flesh is firm and coarse-textured, suited for eating fresh and cooking.[1] It is available from growers who specialize in heirloom plants. It ripens from September to October,[3] and so is commonly available in autumn in farmer's markets in the Northeast. Each apple contains 12.87% sugar that ferments to 6% alcohol in hard cider production.[4]

Propagation wood of 'Roxbury Russet' (it propagates by grafting) was taken to Connecticut soon after 1649.[2] Thomas Jefferson planted a number of 'Roxbury Russet' trees in Monticello's South Orchard in 1778.[5]

The Roxbury Russet apple was one of the varieties grown by Major General Israel Putnam on his farm in Pomfret, Connecticut. His grandson, also named Israel Putnam, introduced this variety to the Ohio Valley in 1796. The grandson received a total of 23 varieties of apple from Connecticut in that year, most of which probably came from his grandfather's farm. The Putnam Russet (Roxbury Russet) was considered to be the best and most profitable winter apple of all the varieties received, and was regarded as a good "keeper" (an important characteristic in an age before refrigeration).[6]

Current cultivation[edit]

Scionwood[edit]

  • Maple Valley Orchards and Nursery, Wisconsin
  • Trees of Antiquity, Paso Robles, CA

Fruit[edit]

The historic Shirley-Eustis House museum in Roxbury, Massachusetts, was planted in 1993 with five 'Roxbury Russet' apple trees.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "UMass Cold Spring Orchard". Coldspringorchard.com. Retrieved 2011-12-29. 
  2. ^ a b Beach, S.A.; Booth, N.O.; Taylor, O.M. (1905), "Roxbury", The apples of New York 1, Albany: J. B. Lyon, pp. 293–295 
  3. ^ Creighton Lee Calhoun, Jr. (21 December 2010). Old Southern Apples, Revised & Expanded. Chelsea Green Publishing. pp. 136–137. ISBN 978-1-60358-294-0. Retrieved 31 August 2012. 
  4. ^ "Vintage Virginia Apples". Vintage Virginia Apples. 2006-10-07. Retrieved 2011-12-29. 
  5. ^ "Monticello Explorer: Roxbury Russet Apple (Malus cv)". Explorer.monticello.org. Retrieved 2011-12-29. 
  6. ^ "The first Grafted Apple in Ohio," Ohio Cultivator, p. 115, Vol. 1-2, Columbus, Ohio, 1845.
  7. ^ [1] Archived December 3, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.