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Origins of modern day fruits { Or a look at some very old species}

Updated on August 8, 2015

John Lindley author of the Pomological magazine

Origins of modern day fruits. Introduction.

Here I review some modern day fruits by looking back at their origin and introduction to the UK. The fruits originate from all parts of the globe. the historical accounts are taken from the Pomological magazine { not in copyright} which was written by John Lindley an English Botanist, Gardener and Orchidologist.

I commence with the Borovitsky apple.

Borovitsky apple

So few of the early summer apples which are commonly cultivated posses any merit that is very desirable to substitute some new kinds, as is of Russian origin. It was sent to the Horticultural Society from the Taurida Gardens near St. Petersburgh, by Mr. Martin Miller in 1824. It ripens in the middle of August, and keeps well for about three weeks.

The wood of the tree is flexuose, dull greyish brown, purple, slightly downy and marked sparingly with cinereous specks. The leaves are large , ovate, oblong of rather thin substance, doubly and acutely crenated, shining above and slightly pubescent beneath. The petioles, long, deeply tinged with purplish red. Stipules smooth, linear-lanceolate.

The fruit-- middle sized, roundish and rather angular. Eye seated in rather a large cavity and surrounded by a few small plaits. The stalk about an inch long, inserted in a deep and rather wide cavity. The colour is pale green on the shaded side, sometimes broken by a silvery appearance of the epidermis. On the sunny side, striped with crimson red on a ground paler red. The skin rather transparent. The flesh white, firm , juicy with a sweet brisk, subacid, very pleasant flavour.

Modern day account. This is a variety of apple which arose from Russia in the Tula region in the early 1700s. It was referred to as the Duchess of Olenburg. It came to England via Germany and Sweden in the early 1800s where it was renamed.

it is considered to be a dual purpose apple. It is a yellow apple strongly striped with red. It is an early season variety, harvested in mid August in south east England. It does not store well.

Borovistky apple


Modern day pippins

Lemon pippin

Historical account--- A good hardy variety, coming into eating in the end of October, and keeping well till March or April. It bears constantly as a standard in all the Midland counties and is one of the most valuable orchard fruits we posses. It is very little subject to spot, and does not readily bruise. On this account, as well as for the sake of its beauty , it is particularly well adapted for the market.

It is said to dry well. Its curled fleshy stalk which is constant and remarkable, is a characteristic.

The wood, very upright, rather strong, olive brown, downy at the end. The Leaves are narrow, crenate, downy at the petioles and under surface, when young, often brownish, stipules narrow and woolly.

Fruits--Middle sized, oval, very regularly formed without angles. The stalk is fleshy, curved inwards and forming a continuation of the fruit . Eye -even and hollow. Skin--Pale yellow green, with neither red not russet. Flesh--firm, breaking. Juice-not abundant, nor high flavoured , but very pleasant.

MODERN DAY ACCOUNT---This very old variety of apple, is thought to be English or Norman. The flesh often covers the stalk giving it a lemon -like appearance. During the 18th and 19th centuries it was dried out and used for tarts and deserts.

In the 19th century it was planted more than any other variety. It was considered to be a reliable cropper and the apples stored well and kept until April.

Lemon pippin


Vitis rotundifolia


Muscadine grape

Historical account---This is one of the oldest and commonest of our grapes, having been cultivated for as long as we have a distinct record. It is in the main valued for the certainty in which it ripens, in the open air, either on south walls or upon bushes trained in a vineyard fashion, in favourable situations. In this latter manner a very considerable crop of fruit is annually obtained by Mr. Joseph Kirke in his nursery at Brompton where the drawing {below} was made last year. In almost all seasons it will ripen on walls or in our southern and Midland counties. in warm autumns acquires a rich and excellent flavour. For the purpose of the English wine maker, it is better adapted than any other white variety.

The usual period of maturity is the middle of September, and the bunches hang upon the vines, if the season is favourable, till the beginning or middle of November. It will be observed that the Chasselas de Fontaineblue grape of the French, which is usually considered the same as the common Muscadine, is not included in any synonyms. it is undoubtedly true that no perceptible differences exist either in appearance, quality or ripening time, but they do differ in this, that while the leaves of the common Muscadine are perfectly smooth on the under side, those of the former are downy. It must therefore, be borne in mind, that while they are similar in all points of importance they are not identically the same.

So much confusion exists in the application of the term White and Royal Muscadine, that it is sometimes difficult to know what is really meant by the names of the authors, when the fruit is slightly described. The term Royal Muscadine is frequently applied to this , but it is very clear that Millar intends by that designation the Old White Muscadine, described by Parkinson as frequently weighing six pounds the bunch. Speechly also meant the same by his Royal Muscadine, or D'Arboyce. It is therefore, better to abandon the name royal Muscadine to call the present variety the common Muscadine, and to apply the name of White Muscadine in the sense of Parkinson.

The wood--long jointed and rather weak. The Leaves--are middle sized,roundish with an open base, slightly and regularly lobed, quite smooth on each side, pale green, becoming yellow late in the season.

Bunch--middle sized, loose with a broad shoulder,occasionally acquiring considerable size, but more frequently resembling the figure, {Below} which was taken from a specimen carefully selected as representing the average size and colour of the fruit.

berries--quite round, middle sized, clear watery green, when very ripe becoming dull yellowish brown on the most exposed places. Flesh--firm,watery, and sweet, when well ripened acquiring a rich saccharine quality, but no time high flavoured.

Modern day account---the Muscadine grape. The species Vitis labrusa and Vitis rotundifolia {pictured above}, produce good wine but extra sugar needs to be added. Vitis rotundifolia is cultivated in the eastern United States.

The Muscadine grape is native to the south eastern United States and may be encountered in the wild from Delaware to the Gulf of Mexico, and, westward to Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Sopecimens of up to one hundred feet may be found in the wild.

Muscadine grapes


Golden Harvey Apple

This is by some, supposed to be the apple of very ancient date. trees of considerable age are said to be growing on the Cotswold Hills in Gloucestershire {Southern England}. By others it is doubted whether the the writers on the fruits of the 17th century were acquainted with it, though Evelyn says, that some persons preferred the cider of the 'Harvey Apple' and russet Harvey are both mentioned by Worlidge. These doubts have been strengthened by the fact that the Golden Harvey is little cultivated in this present day, in comparison with other varieties.

It is perhaps the very best of all our fruits, on which account it is probable that if of an old origin, it would be by this time universally known. It is not to be supposed that because Worlidge names two sorts of Harveys, this must be one of them. In the cider counties there appears to be three distinct kinds under that name, and the Harveys apple from Norfolk {East Anglia } is a sort totally different from either of these three.

A most excellent variety, bearing in great abundnace in many situations, ripening in December and keeping until May, or even longer. Its flavour is much more rich and agreeable than that of any other variety of apple. No garden, however small, should be without it. it is much esteemed as a cider fruit, on account of the sugar it contains. The cider made from it is very strong, but not rich, for which reason it acquired the name ' brandy apple' The specific gravity of its juices is said, in the Pomona Hertfordiensisi, to be 1085.

The wood of the tree is weak, erect, downy at the extremities, olive green and a little spotted. The Leaves are ovate,acuminate,finely serrated, appearing early, but slightly downy in any part. Stipules subulate and smooth.

The fruit small, quite round, often growing in clusters, free from angles or irregularities of the surface. The stalk is short, eye, small, contracted. The skin dull russet, with a bright yellow ground often breaking through the russet in patches. the flesh is firm, breaking,very rich,juicy,spicy and high flavoured.

Modern day account.---as mentioned above, this was the apple favoured for the cider produced fromit. it has a light yellow colouring flushed with red with a rough russet coloured edge. The taste is intense ,sharp and sweet. The tree is a fickle bearer of fruit.

Golden Harvey Apple


Black currant


Black currant--' Black Naples'

This is a very good variety of Black currant, cultivated in the Garden of the Horticultural Society where the drawing { below} was made, and there is considered to be the 'best of class'. It appears in the catalogues of the the principle Scotch Nurseries, and seems to be the most known in the northern parts of the Kingdom, where it probably originated.

Its consists, not only in the larger size of its fruits, but in the clusters being more numerous on the bushes, as well as in each cluster bearing a greater number of berries. The bush spreads but little, its habit being rather upright. the leaves and blossoms are produced earlier than other varieties. However, the fruit ripens later. Its flavour is similar to that of the other cultivated black currants.

Modern day account.---Black currants belong to the family Grassulariaceae and the Order saxifragales and placed in the genus Ribes the specific name of nigrum is from the Latin for black.

there are many fine cultivated varieties available to the gardener in these modern times and for use in culinary preparations. they are a good source of vitamin C. Varieties of currants such as Ben Lomond and Ben Coanan have attained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

Black currant 'Black Naples'


The Oslin Apple

I commenced this review with an apple so it seems apt to conclude with a species of apple. We begin as usual with the Historical account.---This delicious variety is the best with the exception of the Kerry pippin, of all the early autumn apples. It ripens about the middle of August, and is remarkable for its hardiness, beauty and its high flavoured flesh, which is strongly perfumed with the aroma of anise; it possesses also the valuable property of keeping much better than most of the fruits that ripen about the same time. it is a great bearer and if suffered to hang upon the tree until fully ripe, and eaten immediately after being gathered, is scarcely equaled by any apple of any season. In short, it is indispensable to every fruit garden however small.

There is a tradition that it was originally brought to Scotland from France, by the monks of the Abbey of Arbroath in Angusshire, whence it is occasionally called the Arbroath pippin, but it is more probable that it was raised from seed; as it is not found at the present day among continental varieties.; and it is not to be supposed that a kind of so much superior to the greater part of the apples of France, Germany and Holland, would have been lost in the country where it was first produced.

According to Nicol, this is also called the original 'pippin' from the circumstance of it growing freely by the branches when stuck into the ground.

The Wood of the tree is strong, stiff, erect, dull greyish purple, downy when young, with a few whitish specks, which increase considerably in number as the wood becomes older. Leaves are nearly round, cordate at the base, evenly serrated, collapsing green, and downy beneath, turning yellow in the autumn; petioles downy, slightly tinged with purple;stipules subulate.

The Flowers are middle sized, slightly tinged with pink.

Fruit--roundish, depressed without angles. Eye rather prominent, with a few moderately sized plaits. the Stalk, short, thick, not deeply inserted colour pale, light lemon, when the fruit is fully ripe, intermixed with a little light green and sprinkled with numerous spots of the same. The Skin is remarkably thick and tough. The Flesh inclining to yellow, hard, crisp, juicy and very rich and highly flavoured.

Modern day account--- the Oslin apple is a flushed eating apple, developed in Scotland in 1815 and it is at its best from August until September.

Oslin apple



This article was made possible by John Lindley author of the Pomological Magazine.

Thank you for visiting.


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    • D.A.L. profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      ChitrangadaSharon, Thank you for taking the time to read and for leaving your appreciated comments. Best wishes to you.

      jandee, Hi, it is true that many of our apple varieties have been lost over the years. However, there are attempts going on in various parts of the country to save some old varieties as well as producing new ones. {including other fruits}. Thank you for your appreciated visit. best wishes to you.

      DDE-- Glad that you enjoyed the hub . Thank you for reading and for taking the time to leave your kind comment. Best wishes to you.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      5 years ago from New Delhi, India

      A very well researched hub...I came to learn a lot about many fruits, especially apples. The pictures are lovely. Thanks for sharing.

    • jandee profile image


      5 years ago from Liverpool.U.K

      DAL hello,

      Why do some growers suddenly cut all their trees down and move to another field ? I Have noticed this on the continent, (our house was known as "The house with the big apple tree" when I was growing up in South Manchester.

      best from jandee

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Most interesting Hub and well researched so different fruits and explained to the point. I enjoyed reading thanks


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