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Roxbury Russet apple

Roxbury Russet is generally recognised to be the oldest apple variety which originated in North America, and its history can be traced back to the colonial era.  It is very probably a seedling of an apple variety brought over by early settlers from Europe.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the development of apples in North America is that very few of the original European varieties adapted to the climate.  Hence most of the apple varieties that became popular as the United States spread westward were grown from seedlings (often of European varieties at first) which had proven more suited to the local conditions and thus been propagated further - this is one of the useful consequences of the fact that apples do not grow true from seed.  Roxbury Russet also has some resistance to cedar apple rust and fireblight, which are prevalent in some of the eastern states.

Roxbury Russet is in most respects typical of that group of apples known as russets.  Although it has some tartness it is like all russets a fundamentally sweet apple.  It is also a fairly good keeper, an important attribute before the advent of modern storage methods.  Visually the extent of russeting can vary considerably, in some seasons and on some trees it can be extensive, whilst in other situations there may be very little.

Although the parentage of Roxbury Russet is unknown, it is possible that it shares some common ancestor with Ashmead's Kernel - although Roxbury Russet predates Ashmead's Kernel by about a century and the latter was raised in England not the United States.  However Ashmead's Kernel has a slightly odd flavor which is in some ways reminscent of Roxbury Russet.  As well as the traditional green/yellow russet both Roxbury Russet and Ashmead's Kernel can exhibit some reddening.

Last updated 18 Mar 2012.

Rate this variety for flavor

Current rating: 4.0 out of 5. Total votes cast: 9

Visitor comments

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

25 Oct 2015 
Sometimes the worst looking apple in the fruit bowl is the one that tastes the best. If consumers would choose apples with their taste buds, this variety would be a contender for best seller due to its cidery, sugary sweetness. Hard to keep in storage as long as promised without shrinking in on itself, even in Roslindale (part of what was at one time the colonial town of Roxbury) - Carter Wilkie, Boston

02 Dec 2014 
Roxbury russet is an excellent apple; imagine a slightly faded golden russet. The same spiceyness is present, just not as intensely. Texture is good, crunchy but not a tooth breaker. Some day I'll find out if they really can be kept as long as is claimed, but I'll need to have a larger supply before I'll be able to keep from eating them all before the experiment ends.

19 Oct 2014 
2 trees on M7 just planted Spring 2014. After cutting to about 3 feet at planting they have grown nicely to just over 6 feet this season.

05 Oct 2014 
Russets were one of my favorite apples the other being cox's orange Pippins. I grew up in England but I don't know what varieties we had. I now live in Washington. What would you recommend that will grow well in western Wa? Will these varieties cross pollinate? Are they keepers? When should they be planted? It has been many many years since I was in England but I still remember the flavors. Thank you. Suli Angeni.

18 Oct 2013 
I was raised in West Roxbury and spent a few weeks looking for this variety this year. I founf the apple's flesh to be sweet and dense, and the skin slightly bitter and rough. Aftertaste has a touch of honey. Quite satisfying!

09 Nov 2012 
Flesh is not crisp, but the flavor is--bright and clean. Sweet but with some tart. If you left a Granny Smith on the tree and let it mellow, it might taste like this. Pleasant old heirloom variety.

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Probably the first apple variety originating in North America, as a seedling from a variety brought from Europe by early settlers.

Roxbury Russet phototape


  • Species: Malus domestica
  • Parentage: Unknown, probably European variety
  • Originates from: Massachusetts, United States
  • Introduced: Early 17th century
  • Orange Pippin Cultivar ID: 1581
  • UK National Fruit Collection accession: 1952-111


  • Fruit colour: Yellow / Gold
  • Flesh colour: White to Greenish to Greenish Yellow
  • Fruit size: Medium
  • Fruit size: Large
  • Fruit shape: Flat
  • Fruit shape: Flat-round
  • Fruit shape: Round
  • Fruit shape: Round-conical
  • Fruit shape: Oblong-conical
  • Fruit shape: Oblong
  • Shape features (vertical view): Lop-sided, unequal sides, irregular
  • Shape features (vertical view): Variable, dissimilar shapes
  • Shape uniformity: Lack Uniformity in size & shape
  • Shape uniformity: Uniform in size, Variable in shape
  • Russet % coverage: High
  • Russet % coverage: Medium
  • Basin russet: Gray to Brown Russet
  • Basin russet: Heavy russet
  • Basin russet: Little, light russet
  • Basin russet: Ochre or Green Russet
  • Basin russet: Smooth, fine Russet


  • Uses: Eat fresh
  • Uses: Cooking
  • Uses: Juice
  • Uses: Hard cider
  • Uses: Drying
  • Flavour quality: Very good
  • Flavour quality: Exceptional
  • Flavour style: Sweeter
  • 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-Late season
  • Flowering group: 4
  • Fertility: Self-sterile
  • Ploidy: Triploid
  • Pollinating others: Poor
  • Vigour: Slightly large
  • Gardening skill: Average
  • Fruit bearing: Partial tip-bearer
  • General disease resistance: Average
  • Period of origin: 1600 - 1649


  • Climate suitability: Temperate climates
  • Climate suitability: Tolerates cold winters


  • Scab  - Very resistant
  • Fireblight  - Very resistant
  • Cedar apple rust  - Very resistant

References and further reading about this variety

Roxbury Russet identification photos from official fruit collections

UK National Fruit Collection

©Crown Copyright more >
UK National Fruit Collection

Roxbury Russet identification photos from website visitors

Roxbury Russet (showing minimal russeting)
Roxbury Russet (showing minimal russeting)

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 Roxbury Russet 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


Latest Spring blossom records for this variety

2016 season

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

2014 season

  • 24th May  2014  - tree owned by D. in Toronto, Canada
  • 6th May  2014  - tree owned by Jeff in Reading, United States
  • 18th April  2014  - tree owned by Anthony in San Diego, United States

2013 season

  • 4th May  2013  - tree owned by Jeff in Reading, United States

2012 season

  • 9th May  2012  - tree owned by James in Estacada, United States
  • 8th May  2012  - tree owned by Florian in Brush Prairie, United States
  • 20th April  2012  - tree owned by Jeff in Reading, United States

2011 season

  • May  2011  - tree owned by v in Lucknow, Canada
  • 28th March  2011  - tree owned by Martin in Lakeport, United States

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

2014 season

    2013 season

      2012 season

      • 3rd week November  2012  - tree owned by James in Estacada, United States

      2011 season

      • 2nd week October  2011  - tree owned by Martin in Lakeport, United States
      • 1st week October  2011  - tree owned by v in Lucknow, Canada

      Where to buy trees

      The following fruit tree nurseries offer Roxbury Russet apple trees for sale:

      Where to buy fresh fruit

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