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]

The 'Roxbury Russet' was first grown in Roxbury, Massachusetts by Joseph Warren, who died in 1755 of a broken neck after falling from a ladder while picking apples.[5][6] Propagation wood (it propagates by grafting) was taken to Connecticut soon after 1649.[4] Thomas Jefferson planted a number of 'Roxbury Russet' trees in Monticello's South Orchard in 1778.[7]

Current cultivation[edit]


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


The historic Shirley-Eustis House museum in Roxbury, Massachusetts, was planted in 1993 with five 'Roxbury Russet' apple trees.[8]


  1. ^ a b c "UMass Cold Spring Orchard". Retrieved 2011-12-29. 
  2. ^ 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. ^ a b "Vintage Virginia Apples". Vintage Virginia Apples. 2006-10-07. Retrieved 2011-12-29. 
  5. ^ "Hidden Hollow Orchard Apple Varieties - Roxbury Russet". Retrieved 2011-12-29. 
  6. ^ "Roxbury Russet". Retrieved 2011-12-29. 
  7. ^ "Monticello Explorer: Roxbury Russet Apple (Malus cv)". Retrieved 2011-12-29. 
  8. ^ [1] Archived December 3, 2008 at the Wayback Machine