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Fruit Tree Pollination Groups Explained

Updated on January 21, 2013

Fruit Tree Pollination Groups

Pollination is vital for fruits to form. This involves pollen from the male anthers of a flower being transferred to the female stigma. This process is usually carried out by flying insects, such as honey and bumble bees, flies and wasps, plus beetles. Therefore, during wet springs, pollination and fruiting can be affected.

Some fruit trees such as Apple 'Red Falstaff', Plum 'Victoria' and 'Stella' Cherries are self-fertile; meaning, the pollen from the same tree will fertilize the female parts to produce fruit. This is ideal if there are no other fruits of the same genus around; i.e. an apple with an apple. However, pollination and therefore fruiting, is improved by pollinating with another tree. Varieties such as Bleinheim Orange and Bramley's Seedling are triploid, meaning they require two other pollinators in order to bear fruit.

That said, most other varieties of fruit tree require cross-pollination with another variety. Honey bees can travel up to 3 miles to find another fruit tree of the same type. So, look around you area to see if there are other fruit trees to pollinate with.

Also, the trees need to be of different varieties too, Apple 'Discovery cannot be pollinated by the same variety; crab apples will pollinate dessert apples too.

Just to complicate matters, trees are classified into 4 flowering groups depending on when they flower. Group 1 - Early, Group 2 - Mid-Season, Group 3 - Mid-Season/Late Flowering and Group 4 - Late Flowering. So, in order to achieve pollination, it is better to select varieties from the same pollination group, though you can choose from an adjacent group, but not groups that are too far apart, like 2 or 4. If you suffer from early frosts, choose later flowering varieties from group 3 or 4, and of course bad weather will also affect pollination


Apple Pollinating Groups

Group 1.

George Cave, Keswick Codlin, Scotch Dumpling.

Group 2.

Bleinheim Orange, Bountiful, Bramley's Seedling, Egremont Russet, Lord Lambourne, Rev W Wilkes.

Group 3.

Ashmead's Kernel, Charles Ross, Cox's Orange Pippin, Discovery, Fiesta, Greensleeves, Howgate Wonder, James Grieve, Katy, Lord Derby, Red Devil, Red Falstaff, Scrumptious, Spartan, Sunset, Worcester Pearmain.

Group 4.

Ellison's Orange, Newton Wonder.


Pear Pollination Groups

Only Concorde and Conference varieties are self-fertile, the others require a pollinating partner.

Group 3.

Beth, Beuree Hardy, Conference, Williams Bon Chretien.

Group 4.

Concorde, Doynne du Comice, Onward, Winter Nelis.


Plum, Damsons and Gages Pollination Groups

All the plums, damsons and gages listed, apart from Kirkes Blue, are self-fertile.

Group 2.

River's Early Prolific, Warwickshire Drooper.

Group 3.

Czar, Dennistons Superb, Farleigh Damson, Merryweather, Opal, Pershore Yellow, Victoria.

Group 4.

Cambridge Gage, Early Transparent Gage, Kirkes Blue, Marjorie's Seedling, Oullins Golden Gage.


Fruits such as Apricots, Nectarines, Peaches and Quinces are generally self-fertile, whilst most cherries sold to the general public are self-fertile, more commercial varieties are not.

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