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Red Fleshed Apples

Introduction.... Recent News.... List / Pictures of Varieties

Red Devil........... Red Devil; picture courtesy of Stuart Mills

Red Devil: pic. Stuart Mills........ Red Devil: pic. Nigel Deacon.

The first red-fleshed apple I encountered was RED DEVIL, a fruit of unexceptional flavour unless taken straight from the tree. This is a good decorative tree, with striking red-pink blossom and slender habit. It is a cross between "Discovery" and "Kent" and at best, it has a hint of strawberry in its flavour. It produces pink juice, and was raised 1975 by H.F.Ermen at Faversham, Kent.

I have been contacted by a number of apple collectors and growers since starting the site, and two people have supplied me with scions of red-fleshed apples; I am grateful to. D.L. and G.H. for their "Surfleet Sour", a red-fleshed sour cooker from near Spalding, and "George's Red" from Essex, which is an otherwise un-named apple from a tree 100 years old resembling "Red Devil" in appearance.

George's Red; pictures by G.H. George's Red George's Red George's Red, 
foliage in autumn

A couple of months after mentioning George's apple on this site I was contacted by a guy from America asking for scion wood. It prompted me to see if I could find any other red-fleshed varieties. I was surprised to find a few internet references to red-fleshed apples, including some stunning photographs. None of them are in the National Fruit Collection, so far as I can tell from Joan Morgan's book, apart from "Surprise"; and in fact the only noteworthy feature of this apple - its pink flesh - isn't mentioned in her description of it.

Sometimes, in a sunny year, other red-skinned apples get a pink tinge under the skin. When this happens, the flavour is generally sweeter and richer than normal. I've noticed the same thing in Merton Knave and several other earlies. Here's a Devonshire Quarrenden, grown in Leicestershire, UK, in 2006.

Devonshire Quarrenden 
in a sunny year

Albert Etter was an apple breeder from North California who died about fifty years ago. He crossed the pink-fleshed variety "Surprise" with various apples and one of the seedlings he produced was "Pink Pearl", which enjoyed commercial release. At one time he had about thirty red seedlings in his experimental orchard, but after his death it was neglected and it turned into a wilderness.

In the 1970s the Greenmantle nursery in Garberville, California investigated the remains of the orchard and found twelve types of red-fleshed apple. The best seven it has now propogated and licensed, and these are for sale under the name "Rosetta Apples" -a nice play on words. The varieties have been named Pink Pearmaine, Blush Rosette, Thornberry, Rubaiyat, Christmas Pink, Grenadine, and Pink Parfait. Their site gives a detailed description of their work in rescuing these apples, and some amazing photographs; the web address is:

http://www.greenmantlenursery.com/fruit/rosetta-apples.htm

The "Tree-mendus" apple site and nursery sells five red-fleshed apples: Hidden Rose, Pink Sparkle, Pink Pearl (Etter's original commercial seedling), Surprise and Almata. The web address is:

http://www.tree-mendus.com/articles/red_fleshed_apples.html

On the "fourseasonscabinrental" site, 'Derek' lists thirty-one varieties of red fleshed apple, with detailed descriptions. His web address is :

http://www.fourseasonscabinrental.com/redfleshedapples.html

It's good that there is so much interest in apple diversity and that the internet can bring together enthusiasts from every part of the world.

The breeding of a commercial red-fleshed apple is being investigated in New Zealand by a private company - HortResearch. It's described as "rich in antioxidants" and looks as if it will be at the front of a big apple marketing campaign in a few years. The Hortresearch programme has been funded by New Zealand and Australia. It began work on the new apple in 1998, using apples with naturally red flesh but without the appearance, flavour or storage life to be a commercial success. It crossed these apples with high-quality white-fleshed apples, creating breeding lines ranging from white-pink flesh to purple. The red-fleshed breedling line was selected for development.

More modern knowledge of fruit genetics has enabled the breeding programme to be a lot faster than it would have been a couple of generations ago. There has been no genetic modification, just selective crosses and selection. The apple should be available to growers in about five to six years, once enough scion wood has been grown; it could be in the shops in a decade.

Update, New Zealand Herald, 6 Apr. 07. Progress continues with the project, but there's a snag - appearance of the apple is fine, but taste not so good. Research continues.

Update, Mar 08. The Swiss are also developing a red-fleshed apple for the mass market.

Further update, May 09: A German redfleshed apple exists, with limited commerical circulation: 'Weirouge'. There is also South African interest in developing a popular red-fleshed apple. More on this shortly.




UPDATE, REDFLESHED APPLE NEWS

SWITZERLAND
The Swiss redfleshed apple has been released to Sutton's, who are selling the trees. It's called REDLOVE, and there are two types which mature at slightly different times. Here is a link to a video clip where Markus Kobelt shows us his 'Redlove' trees.


NEW ZEALAND
The redfleshed apple programme continues with Hortresearch (now renamed 'Plant & Food Research Institute') working alongside its marketing partner Prevar.


ITALY
3500 trees of Weirouge (a German redfleshed variety) have been planted in the Val Venosta area of Italy's South Tyrol region. Release date of the apples for the general market should be around 2013.


CHINA
In 2009, Goldland Fruit Group, in China, showed its own red-fleshed apple at the Asia Fruit Logistica trade fair in Hong Kong. This one was bred by a Dutch company, Next Fruit Generation. Goldland chairman Leo Chiu said they are starting to multiply the variety ready for commercial production in a few years.

Dr Richard Espley, a molecular biologist at Plant & Food Research, has been involved in the group's research into red-fleshed apples. He explains on a youtube video that redfleshed apples occur in nature in Central Asia, but usually have a poor taste, so need to be crossed with good flavoured white fleshed apples to give a commercially viable, red-fleshed eating variety.


SOUTH AFRICA
Colorsfruit, Paarl, South Africa, is carrying out a breeding programme to produce South Africa's own commercial red-fleshed apple.


UPDATE 2012
Lots of progress since the last update. There are commercial plantings, in various countries, of Weirouge, Pixirosso, Baya Marisa, and redfleshed apple trees available at many nurseries in Europe. Particularly noteworthy are several 'Redlove' cultivars, available from Lubera.



Nigel Deacon / Diversity website / Updated Nov 2012

George's Red: pink cortex wood

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