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Rhode Island Greening apple

Rhode Island Greening is well-known American heirloom apple variety, dating back to the 17th century.  That makes it a very old apple, indeed there are not many European apples that can be traced back as far as Rhode Island Greening.  Perhaps surprisingly Rhode Island Greening is not a rare antique variety grown by enthusiasts as a historical curiosity, as its vintage might suggest.  Quite the opposite - it appears to have been a commercial variety from the outset and even today is still grown commercially in the north-eastern USA.

The main reason for this enduring success is that Rhode Island Greening is the definitive apple for American apple pie.  It is one of those apples (like the English Bramley) that really benefits from cooking to bring out the full richness and sweetness of flavor.  Whilst it can be eaten fresh after a period in storage, it is essentially a hard and uncompromising apple, far better in the kitchen.

Whereas the English like their culinary apples to dissolve into a puree or sauce, Rhode Island Greening - like most of the popular American cooking apples - tends to keep its shape when cooked.

Rhode Island Greening is a triploid apple variety - with three sets of chromosomes rather than the usual two sets (diploid).  There is also a tetraploid form with four sets of chromosomes.  The triploid form is the one most commonly planted and cannot pollinate other apple varieties.  It takes longer than most apple varieties to come into bearing, but then goes on to become a relatively large tree with the potential to be very long-lived.

Last updated 01 Mar 2012.

Rate this variety for flavor

Current rating: 4.3 out of 5. Total votes cast: 9

Visitor comments

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

31 Oct 2016 
I have an R.I. Greening in my orchard. 2016 was the first year for it to bear (one single apple). I protected it as if it were a gold nugget. A very beautiful apple indeed. Bright green ground. A nice reddish blush on the sunny side. I cut into that one apple about five days after harvest. It had a very pleasing tartness. Not one that would knock you off your seat. A slight citrus hint. I am really glad I planted this tree. I make a lot of baked apple deserts and am really excited to add this variety to my ingredient list.

09 Sep 2013 
Complex and nuanced flavor. We inherited a tree from some unknown fore bearer, thinking it was a crabapple. Once pruned it began to yield these large, pleasant apples that are so versatile, if not the most beautiful.

29 Oct 2012 
We live in a small mountain community in Southern Utah. We had our apple trees trimmed last winter and the one tree which never produces many apples is loaded this year! They are tart, but withstood the 1st and 2nd freezes. Sooo, I decided to pick them and do research. They look like, taste like and cook like the description of Rhode Island greenings. I love the taste and the applesauce is wonderful. The tree is on property that has been in our family for 150 years, ancestors who came from the north eastern US. I wish I knew the history of our tree.!!!

28 Dec 2010 
For a RI greening to be eaten raw you have to sprinkle it with salt, that will make it taste sweet. Trust me, I grew up eating and cooking with greenings. My mother, grandmother, and aunts prided themselves on making superb apple pies and they all swore by greenings as being the best, and necessary for a pie you could be proud of. You do need to add a lot of sugar for the pie to not taste too tart. In RI, in the 60's and 70's, you could find them everywhere but not anymore. I don't know why they fell out of favor, I miss them and have never found a good substitute.

11 Feb 2010 
Often large and firm fleshed. Not as juicy as some varieties, but keeps its shape well when cooked, and esteemed as a cooking apple. The old, untended tree we inherited from Great Grandpa often developed surface like honeydew. The Rhode Island Greenings grown by a friend show none of this.

20 Oct 2008 
These may be favored for pies but they are also pleasant, if not remarkable, eating as well. Generally more tart than otherwise but mild, with hints of cider, grapes, and lemonade. I can't say exactly how long mine had been off the tree--at least a week--but it was still firm, if tender, and refreshing to eat.

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One of the oldest American varieties, known since the 1650s, and widely planted in the USA. Its main use is in cooking.

Rhode Island Greening phototape


  • Species: Malus domestica
  • Originates from: Rhode Island, United States
  • Introduced: 17th century
  • Orange Pippin Cultivar ID: 1201
  • UK National Fruit Collection accession: 1945-176
  • We are grateful to Brogdale Farm - home of the UK National Fruit Collection - for providing samples of this variety.


  • Fruit colour: Green
  • Flesh colour: White to Greenish to Greenish Yellow
  • Flesh colour: Yellow to Very Yellow
  • Flesh colour: White to Cream, pale yellow
  • Fruit size: Very large
  • Fruit size: Medium
  • Fruit size: Large
  • Fruit size: Variable
  • Fruit shape: Flat-round
  • Fruit shape: Short-round-conical
  • Fruit shape: Round
  • Fruit shape: Round-conical
  • Fruit shape: Conical
  • Fruit shape: Oblong-conical
  • Shape features (vertical view): Lop-sided, unequal sides, irregular
  • Shape features (vertical view): Symmetrical
  • Shape uniformity: Uniform, in size and shape
  • Bultitude apple group: 1. Green, smooth, no russet, acidic, culinary
  • Russet % coverage: Medium
  • Russet % coverage: Low
  • Basin russet: Gray to Brown Russet
  • Basin russet: Little, light russet
  • Basin russet: Usually Russet free


  • Uses: Eat fresh
  • Uses: Cooking
  • Uses: Hard cider
  • Uses: Drying
  • Cooking result: Keeps shape
  • Flavour quality: Very good
  • Flavour style: Honeyed / Scented
  • Flavour style: Sharp / refreshing
  • Flavour style: Sharper
  • Flavour style: Sweet/Sharp
  • Flavour style: Aromatic
  • Harvest period: Late season
  • Use / keeping: 3 months or more


  • Cropping: Good
  • Flowering period: Mid season
  • Flowering group: 3
  • Fertility: Self-sterile
  • Ploidy: Triploid
  • Pollinating others: Poor
  • Vigour: Large
  • Bearing regularity: Biennial tendency
  • Gardening skill: Average
  • Precocity: Slow to start bearing
  • Fruit bearing: Spur-bearer
  • General disease resistance: Average
  • Period of origin: 1650 - 1699


  • Climate suitability: Temperate climates


  • Fireblight  - Very susceptible
  • Cedar apple rust  - Some susceptibility

References and further reading about this variety

  • Cedar-Apple Rust  
    Author: Stephen Vann, University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture (FSA7538)
    Rated as susceptible - control usually needed where CAR is prevalent.

  • Apples for the 21st Century
    Author: Manhart

Rhode Island Greening identification photos from official fruit collections



UK National Fruit Collection

©Crown Copyright more >
UK National Fruit Collection

Rhode Island Greening identification photos from website visitors

Rhode Island Greening apple
Rhode Island Greening apple

Triploid (left) and Tetraploid (right) forms
Triploid (left) and Tetraploid (right) forms

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 Rhode Island Greening 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



Latest Spring blossom records for this variety

2016 season

  • June  2016  - tree owned by B. in Searsmont, United States
  • 14th April  2016  - tree owned by Kenneth in Topeka, United States

2013 season

  • 19th May  2013  - tree owned by Richard in York, United Kingdom

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

Latest harvest records for this variety

2016 season

  • 3rd week September  2016  - tree owned by B. in Searsmont, United States

2013 season

  • 1st week November  2013  - tree owned by Alison in Albion, United States
  • 1st week September  2013  - tree owned by David in Rindge, United States

Where to buy trees

The following fruit tree nurseries offer Rhode Island Greening apple trees for sale:

Where to buy fresh fruit

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