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Ashmead's Kernel apple



An old nondescript green russeted apple, originating in the 1700s. The appearance is, let's be honest, not especially attractive. Ashmeads Kernel is lumpy, mis-shapen, and rather small. The underlying bright green skin is entirely covered in russet. Russet can be very appealing- think of the dull golden glow of Egremont Russet for example - but somehow on Ashmead's Kernel it just looks plain dull.

Yet appearances can be deceiving. Ashmeads Kernel has remained popular for well over 2 centuries, and with good reason: it has a distinctive flavour which is quite different from most other varieties. Tasters rarely agree on exactly what the elusive flavour reminds them of, but pear drops is probably close.

It is perhaps no surprise that Asmeads Kernel does not seem to be related to any of the mainstream apple varieties, although one of its probable cousins - Duke of Devonshire - is also quite well known.  The name "kernel" suggests that this variety was discovered as a chance seedling.

Ashmead's Kernel is a versatile apple, not just for eating fresh, it can also be used for salads and cooking, and it is a highly-valued apple for juicing and hard cider.

For gardeners Ashmead's Kernel's quirky character can make it less than straightforward to grow.  Unlike modern apple varieties which tend to be quite precocious, Ashmead's Kernel takes its time (3-4 years) to come into bearing.  Once it does, cropping can be still be light to average because Ashmead's Kernel flowers erratically.  Pollination is also difficult.  Although Ashmead's Kernel is considered a conventional diploid variety (2 sets of chromosomes), its unreliable pollination characteristics have led some researchers to suggest it might be a triploid variety (3 sets of chromosomes).  In any case, Ashmead's Kernel greatly benefits from having other good pollinating varieties nearby - Golden Delicious is a good choice.

Ashmead's Kernel is also one of a very small band of apple varieties from the Old World that succeeded in the New World.  When the first settlers arrived in North America they brought with them tried and tested varieties from Europe, yet few adapted to the very different climates of North America and most of the early successful American apple varieties were chance seedlings which evolved in America.  However Ashmead's Kernel did thrive, and today holds a position of respect on both sides of the Atlantic - it will never be a mainstream variety and placed alongside almost any modern variety, Ashmeads Kernel looks completely outclassed. But in the flavour stakes this old-timer holds its own.

Last updated 12 Jan 2014.

Rate this variety for flavor

Current rating: 4.5 out of 5. Total votes cast: 13
 

Visitor comments

(Use the form at the bottom to add your own comments about this variety)

03 Dec 2013 
Two years ago I planted 20 apple trees beside where we're going to build a house in Northern Ireland. I've been taking the blossom off to encourage them to establish. When I was back in early November there was a single apple on one of the trees. It was delicious. Sweet and sharp and crisp. I had to look up my planting map to see what variety it was - Ashmead's Kernel. Delighted with it. Hope it is well established and fruiting well by the time we move back. Quite different from any other apple I've had. Very pleased I planted this variety.


21 Nov 2013 
Just bought the last four Ashmead's of the season today from Samascott Orchards at the NYC Greenmarket. This apple is by far my favorite. Tart, juicy, slightly sweet, crisp, complex with earthy undertones. Have not cooked with it yet, maybe next year. Please, Empire State growers, plant some Ashmead's Kernel.


15 Nov 2013 
Just scrumped a load of these from the university garden. Very heavy crop, windfallen in mid-November and absolutely delicious! I just hope we can eat them quickly enough.


27 Nov 2011 
I grow one tree as a cordon along with a few other varieties. The flavour can be just amazing but some years it is very ordinary. I bears a small crop-fine for my own needs but rarely do we get any to store for long as they get eaten! Bitter pit can affect most of the crop but this year (2011) was not a problem. If you can get one, do so!


20 Nov 2011 
I've just eaten Ashmead's Kernel and Orlean's Reinette from Wells market and the former is delicious, russety texture and splendid flavour. They are large and red too unlike previous ones I've tried. I'm keen to buy a tree now. Orleans Reinette are very similar looking but nowhere near as much flavour. It's been a very dry summer here, which mast have had an impact of some kind.


31 Aug 2011 
Yes, I grow Ashmead's in VA (one tree from Vintage Virginia apples). Kind of a gangly tree (hard to spray, so I often skip it), fairly bug and disease resistant, produces a moderate amount of small apples that are tart but then improve after storage. Doubt I'll ever have more than one tree.


07 Aug 2011 
Ann, check out http://www.vintagevirginiaapples.com/ They propagate Ashmeads


05 Aug 2011 
Has anyone grown Ashmeades in Virginia? We used to get pick-your-own from a place that has long since plowed the trees under in favor of wine grapes. We planted two trees of our own but neglected them and now want to try to revive them--but blights and bugs are so bad here that we may not have anything to taste once they are ripe.


11 Nov 2010 
Picked a tiny crop 9 October; Brix 15. Ate another today: fantastic, complex flavor and a rugged tree! I expect to graft a number of apples around the yard, but this tree will remain a single variety. Just can't get too many of these.


10 Oct 2010 
I have five Ashmead's Kernel semi-dwarfs in my small orchard in the Northwest corner of Washington State. They appear to be more disease-free than many of other varieties I have planted. The taste is wonderful when picked ripe off the tree (the flavor is hard to describe... very sweet and somewhat nutty), This russet-like apple also makes a great tasting cider, either sweet or hard.


30 Sep 2010 
I struggle a bit with my Ashmead's Kernel - I think I have yet to experience the rumoured flavour! Shy bearing and bitter pit don't help and I am not sure when to pick it - so far the ones I have kept look in pretty good condiiton but don't tastle of much. Big healthy crop this year though so cross your fingers for me!


09 Sep 2010 
Mike I also grow Ashmead's Kernel (MM106 - bush). It suffers severely from bitter pit, which ruins a lot of the fruit. Light crops always make bitter pit worse - and Ashmead's Kernel certainly suffers from light crops to exacerbate the problem. Mine is very erratic cropping and crops are never spectacular. Blossom is attractive though. Mine gets a trace of canker from time to time, but no problems with mildew and although leaves get some scab in wet years, the fruits are usually fine. It is not especially troubled with pests. A nursery that is fairly local to me uses M9 rootstock for their Ashmead's Kernel, to try to reduce the bitter pit. I think that Ashmead's Kernel is best left to grow and crop as it pleases, with as little pruning as possible (which results in a rather large tree). Until the tree is up to full size, I would consider any decent fruits as a lucky bonus.


08 Sep 2010 
Great apple but mine is so far a shy bearer and fruit is poor quality - all a bit scabby plus bitter pip. Other varieties in my orchard are excellent this year. However, I grafted this tree onto a healthy half standard Bramley Seedling (had too many !) about 4 years ago. Lots of healthy leaf growth and not much fruit. I did the same with Egremont russet and this has done fantastically well. Any ideas to sort shy bearing ?


04 Aug 2010 
This year's batch of Ashmead Kernel are awful, mis-shapen and split and disease ridden - normally they are so reliable so I'm not sure what's happened to cause this. On the other hand, Laxton's Superb here which is usually a delicious juicer but scabby mess is pristine for the first time in ages. Weather related in both cases, I'm sure


19 Sep 2009 
Being an Ashmead myself, I have a certain bias toward this apple. There are rumours that the Dr Ashmead of Gloucester who reportedly cultivated this apple is an ancestor of ours. This year our tree has a glut of fruit and we'll probably end up with a lot of chutney.


17 Sep 2009 
I inherited a well established tree when we bought this house. It bears prolifically, with some large and some small fruit. I have found the tips for picking times very helpful, but should I pick them before the first frosts, or will they still keep even if there have been frosts before they are picked?


15 Sep 2009 
This is quite an apple. Great flavour and sophisticated aroma. I would say one of the best. I would ot pick until early October- even later if it is still dull coloured. The apple does ripen to a warm hued pink and the flavour sweetens. Stores until March. I think it is a shy producer- but our tree is only 6 years old and will yield 20-30 respectable fruits. I would strongly recommend it.


01 Sep 2009 
I just ate my very first -- delicious! It's rather early to pick them, I thinlk, as it was quite tart (which is what I prefer). The ones I bought were grown in northern California. How does the flavor develop as they remain on the tree -- do they get considerably sweeter?


22 Aug 2009 
all I would like to know is when to pick the apples?!


04 Jul 2009 
I planted one of these just two years ago. It's growing nicely and I hope to get a crop next year. I purchased mine from Raintree Nursery in western Washington state. It came very hardy and bloomed immediately upon planting; naturally I stripped the blooms. Raintree has a wonderful website, their prices may be a bit higher than other outfits, but the rootstocks they use keep most of their trees to a height of 8 to 14 feet, depending upon variety and roostock chosen. Mine will top out at 12 feet. Just right.


21 Jun 2009 
I planted two Ashmead Kernel and two Orange Pippins (maidens) about four years ago, and this is the first year either of them have produced fruit! Very exciting, but the Ashmeads are much more resilient than the rust/blight ridden Pippins - is that usual?


19 Jun 2009 
ii've heard much praise for ashmead's kernel but have never found one. any recommendations for grocers in cambridge and surrounding towns (bike-accessible) carrying these during apple season?


04 Jun 2009 
Try paper bags, plastic ziploc bags with bottoms cut out or footies for codling moth.


14 Dec 2008 
In my last comment about Ashmead I said the fruit got apple maggots--actually, their codling moths, but the result is the same. The Cox I have are also impossible to raise simply because of the moth larvae--which I can control, I suppose, but the other varieties I like Melrose, Red Delicious, and other hardly are affected.


14 Dec 2008 
The flavor is very good but since apples are very sensitive to cultural conditions I have to say that this one is a real pain to grow in this part of northern Spain simply because it attracts all the apple maggots in the area. Interestingly the bearing problem is not apparant here, it bears fine and the size is even larger than the normal size I´ve read about. Any suggestions for the apple maggots? The Melrose trees I have are almost pest-free.


14 Dec 2008 
Ashmeads appears to sometimes be a shy bearer. I suggest getting a full soil test. I feed mine heavliy, seems to help. Have you had any scab on it? What are your other top disease resistant vasrieties? Thanks


07 Oct 2008 
I have planted a 5ft tree in my garden this spring, on its own, one branch grew blossom, then over the summer the leaves have got some sort of brown blight on them. Will this tree be ok? Its growing in chalky soil, and I have never grown or owned an apple tree before help...!


01 Oct 2008 
I think Steve Harris picked his Ashmead Kernel Apples far too early. I pick them at the end of October at the earliest. Often leaving many on the tree until end of November - if the weather permits. They take a long time to ripen fully.


27 Sep 2008 
I have lived with this apple variety in my garden for nearly twenty five years without knowing it until I took one along to an apple day in Kellie Castle, Fife for identification by the experts today. Mine seems to have bigger fruit than many of this variety. Yes, the flavour is lovely and it improves for eating later in the year. The tree was well established when we bought the house and I wonder how old it is. Our house is 250 years old but I don't suppose the tree is that old!


14 Sep 2008 
Would like to hear from others growing this apple. I have two trees, both over 12 years old and both extremely shy at bearing.Just can't get them to put out much of a crop. A shame as it is such a terrific apple. Often has bitter pit, a consequence of too little (or too much) calcium. I grow 54 varieties, and consider this one one of my top three or four for flavor.


08 Apr 2008 
By far my favourite apple - but not until December. Not only do I like them, but nothing else seems to. Birds hardly peck them and the few damaged apples rarely go mouldy. I'm just eating the last of my stored crop (stored in a plastic bin in the shed) now, in April (I have to admit, they're a bit past their best but they were perfect up to about 2 weeks ago). Plus, the tree seems tolerant of canker; a big problem on a wet North facing slope at 600ft in Derbyshire. A great apple.


06 Nov 2007 
Our local farm shop had some for sale for a couple of weeks and I think it's the best apple I've tasted. I,m very fond of Coxs straight off the tree but I think these beat even them. They stay crisp and have just the right combination of tart and sweetness for me. Hence the reason I'm on this sight finding out more about them.


05 Nov 2007 
I have one of these trees that came with the house and it is wonderful.A very heavy producer and just delicious. I leave them on the tree until a golden color and they are ready. I picked 6 bushels from my 25 year old tree this year. willing to share! thanks Rich.


11 Oct 2007 
We visited the apple festival at Erddig last weekend (National Trust house and gardens near Wrexham). They were selling this variety, grown on site, and doing a very good trade. First time I've had them - just my sort of apple. But rest of my family aren't keen !


23 Sep 2007 
They are sometimes available from farmer's markets around here. I have a tree in my garden and harvested about 40 this afternoon. You are supposed to store for 1 month before they are at their prime. Currently they are rather hard and acid.


19 Sep 2007 
Agreed. The best apple I have ever tasted. I first tried them in 1996 from a friends orchard. That property has been sold and I have been looking for a source ever since. THE BEST APPLE.



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A very old apple variety, with a drab appearance which belies a unique peardrop flavour. Ashmead's Kernel is also one of very small number of English apple varieties that also thrives in North America.

Ashmead's Kernel phototape

Origins

  • Species: Malus domestica
  • Parentage: Unknown
  • Originates from: England, United Kingdom
  • Introduced: 1700s - early
  • Orange Pippin Cultivar ID: 1004
  • UK National Fruit Collection accession number: 1970-106

Identification

  • Fruit colour: Yellow / Gold
  • Flesh colour: White to Cream, pale yellow
  • Flesh colour: Yellow to Very Yellow
  • Fruit size: Small
  • Fruit size: Medium
  • Bultitude apple group: 8. Russeted, sweet

Using

  • Uses: Eat fresh
  • Uses: Juice
  • Uses: Hard cider
  • Flavour quality: Very good
  • Flavour style: Pear drop
  • Harvest period: Late season
  • Use / keeping: 3 months or more
  • Vitamin C content: Low

Growing

  • Cropping: Light
  • Flowering period: Late season
  • Flowering group: 4
  • Fertility: Self-sterile
  • Ploidy: Triploid
  • Pollinating others: Poor
  • Vigour: Average growth
  • Gardening skill: Some skill needed
  • General disease resistance: Average
  • Period of origin: 1700 - 1749

Other qualities

  • Awards: RHS AGM

Disease resistance

  • Scab  - Some resistance
  • Mildew  - Some resistance
  • Cedar apple rust  - Some resistance
  • Bitter pit  - Some susceptibility

Relationships to other varieties

Parents and other ancestors of this variety:

  • Nonpareil (parent) - Nonpareil is a probable parent of Ashmeads Kernel

Close relations of this variety (share 1 parent):

  • Duke of Devonshire - It is likely that Duke of Devonshire descends from Ashmeads Kernel or shares a common ancestor.

See also:

Ashmead's Kernel identification photos from official fruit collections

ARS GRIN

©Copyright
ARS GRIN

UK National Fruit Collection

©Crown Copyright more >
UK National Fruit Collection

Ashmead's Kernel identification photos from website visitors


Tree after pruning 3/2013
Tree after pruning 3/2013

Copyright: W Ross

Newly planted Ashmead's Kernel apple tree
Newly planted Ashmead's Kernel apple tree

Copyright: Jeff

Ashmead's Kernel blossom
Ashmead's Kernel blossom

Copyright: Jeff


Fruit tree register

Do you have a tree of this variety in your garden or orchard? If so please register the details here and contribute to our international register of fruit trees.

The following Ashmead's Kernel trees have been registered - click the name to view more details of each tree.

You can also view these trees on a map.

United States

United Kingdom

France

Canada

Switzerland



Latest Spring blossom records for this variety

2014 season

  • 12th May  2014  - tree owned by Eric in , United Kingdom
  • 8th May  2014  - tree owned by Bill in Smeeton Westerby, United Kingdom
  • 30th April  2014  - tree owned by Matt in REYNOLDSBURG, United States
  • April  2014  - tree owned by Amanda in CAHORS, France

2013 season

  • 28th May  2013  - tree owned by Eric in , United Kingdom
  • 27th May  2013  - tree owned by Bill in Smeeton Westerby, United Kingdom
  • 24th May  2013  - tree owned by Andrew in St Saviour, United Kingdom
  • 24th May  2013  - tree owned by Jeff in Leicester, United Kingdom
  • 18th May  2013  - tree owned by Jean in Martock, United Kingdom
  • 14th May  2013  - tree owned by Derek in BRISTOL, United Kingdom
  • 11th May  2013  - tree owned by Steve in STEEPLE CLAYDON, United Kingdom
  • 11th May  2013  - tree owned by Steve in STEEPLE CLAYDON, United Kingdom
  • May  2013  - tree owned by Steve in CHELTENHAM, United Kingdom
  • May  2013  - tree owned by Matt in REYNOLDSBURG, United States
  • 26th April  2013  - tree owned by Mike in GLEN ROCK, United States
  • April  2013  - tree owned by Dave in SANTA BARBARA, United States

2012 season

  • 20th May  2012  - tree owned by Jeff in Leicester, United Kingdom
  • 18th May  2012  - tree owned by David in Petersfield, United Kingdom
  • 15th May  2012  - tree owned by Andrew in St Saviour, United Kingdom
  • 9th May  2012  - tree owned by James in ESTACADA, United States
  • 5th May  2012  - tree owned by Florian in Brush Prairie, United States
  • May  2012  - tree owned by Steve in CHELTENHAM, United Kingdom
  • 3rd April  2012  - tree owned by Maryann in Elmhurst, United States

2011 season

  • 20th September  2011  - tree owned by Gina in MACCLESFIELD, United Kingdom
  • 22nd May  2011  - tree owned by Dave in SPOKANE, United States
  • 19th May  2011  - tree owned by Mark in COLUMBIA STATION, United States
  • May  2011  - tree owned by Steve in CHELTENHAM, United Kingdom
  • 25th April  2011  - tree owned by Malcolm in loughborough, United Kingdom
  • 23rd April  2011  - tree owned by Jeff in Leicester, United Kingdom
  • 22nd April  2011  - tree owned by John in MALVERN, United Kingdom
  • 15th April  2011  - tree owned by Derek in BRISTOL, United Kingdom
  • 15th April  2011  - tree owned by Derek in BRISTOL, United Kingdom
  • 10th April  2011  - tree owned by Peter in Croom, United States
  • 4th April  2011  - tree owned by Steve in ORANGE VALE, United States

2010 season

  • 1st May  2010  - tree owned by N. in CAMBRIDGE, United Kingdom
  • 1st May  2010  - tree owned by Dave in SPOKANE, United States
  • May  2010  - tree owned by Steve in CHELTENHAM, United Kingdom

2009 season

  • May  2009  - tree owned by Malcolm in loughborough, United Kingdom
  • May  2009  - tree owned by Steve in CHELTENHAM, United Kingdom
  • 29th April  2009  - tree owned by N. in CAMBRIDGE, United Kingdom

Record your blossom dates in our Fruit Tree Register - more >>.

Latest harvest records for this variety

2014 season

  • 1st week November  2014  - tree owned by Derek in BRISTOL, United Kingdom
  • 2nd week October  2014  - tree owned by Bill in Smeeton Westerby, United Kingdom
  • 1st week September  2014  - tree owned by Matt in REYNOLDSBURG, United States

2013 season

  • November  2013  - tree owned by David in LITTON, United Kingdom
  • 3rd week October  2013  - tree owned by Bill in Smeeton Westerby, United Kingdom
  • 2nd week September  2013  - tree owned by Dave in SANTA BARBARA, United States
  • September  2013  - tree owned by Matt in REYNOLDSBURG, United States

2012 season

  • 2nd week November  2012  - tree owned by James in ESTACADA, United States
  • October  2012  - tree owned by Julia in DURHAM, United Kingdom
  • 2nd week September  2012  - tree owned by Andrew in St Saviour, United Kingdom

2011 season

  • 4th week October  2011  - tree owned by Derek in BRISTOL, United Kingdom
  • 1st week October  2011  - tree owned by s in FROME, United Kingdom
  • 4th week September  2011  - tree owned by Gina in MACCLESFIELD, United Kingdom
  • 2nd week September  2011  - tree owned by Mark in PALO ALTO, United States
  • September  2011  - tree owned by Steve in CHELTENHAM, United Kingdom

2010 season

  • 2nd week October  2010  - tree owned by Dave in SPOKANE, United States
  • October  2010  - tree owned by s in FROME, United Kingdom

2009 season

  • October  2009  - tree owned by N. in CAMBRIDGE, United Kingdom
  • October  2009  - tree owned by Malcolm in loughborough, United Kingdom
  • October  2009  - tree owned by s in FROME, United Kingdom

Where to buy apple trees

The following fruit tree nurseries offer Ashmead's Kernel apple trees for sale:

Where to buy apples

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