Apple - Spartan - tasting notes, identification, reviews
All about apples, pears, plums, and cherries - and orchards where they are grown

Spartan apple

Spartan is a small sweet apple, and a great favourite with children. It is very much a "McIntosh" style apple, bright crimson skin and whiter-than-white flesh. We leave ours on the tree as long as possible, until they are crimson all over, as this allows the flavour to develop. Straight from the tree the flesh is very crisp and juicy, but it softens a bit within a week or so of picking - although remaining juicy.  This is also a good variety for juicing - the juice colour is not especially remarkable but the flavour is sweet and pleasant.  Spartan is an excellent garden apple, being easy to grow, resistant to scab, fairly resistant to mildew, and it crops very reliably - and by growing your own you can enjoy Spartan at its best, straight from the tree.  However it can be prone to canker in wetter regions.

Spartan is a historically interesting apple, being an early example of a variety developed in a formal scientific breeding programme in Canada. It was raised at the Canadian Apple Research Station in Summerland, British Columbia, in the 1920s, and the mother variety is McIntosh (of course).  There is some uncertainty over the pollen parent, it is usually thought to be Newtown Pippin.

Spartan is also one of the few North American apple varieties that can be grown successfully throughout the UK, where it has long been a popular garden apple variety.

If you only have space for one of the McIntosh-style apple varieties in your garden orchard, Spartan is a good choice - straight from the tree on a cold autumn morning, the vinous sugar-rush is hard to beat!

Last updated 27 Jan 2013.

Rate this variety for flavor

Current rating: 4.3 out of 5. Total votes cast: 40

Visitor comments

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

31 Oct 2016 
This is probably my favourite eating apple, which surprises me as I normally don't like McIntosh-style apples at all. In fact this is the apple the McIntosh probably wishes it could be - sweet and acid in really good balance with a hint of burnt caramel, almost toffee-apple flavour. Grows well and always gives a good crop.

02 Nov 2015 
Yuk too sweet and not enough acidity for my taste.

24 Jul 2014 
The Spartan is by far my favorite apple. I found our stores are carrying so many different varieties of apples but the Spartan is hard to find. WHY? Nothing compares to it!

30 Aug 2013 
I love this apple! I grow about 8 or 10 different kinds of apples, and this one is ALWAYS the best producer AND the one tree that is the least affected by scab or insects (I only spray minimally). Plus it has the most beautiful fruit while on the tree. An all around winner!

15 Jan 2013 
Brent - a sweet apple with a crisp bright white flesh. also has a very small core which means more appley goodness for you to enjoy.

19 Mar 2012 
Just tried my first Spartan. This is March and it was a bit mealy from storage, but the flavor was excellent. Very reminiscent of a Mac--sweet and tart together. Bet it's fantastic right off the tree!

01 Dec 2011 
I have just eaten one of the tastiest apples out of a Sainsbury family pack, I never thought that I would be so interested to find out what type of apple it was . The Spartan now has my vote for a snack or an addition to a ploughman's lunch.

22 Oct 2011 
We just bought our tree last week and planted it. Hopefully next year it will bear fruit.

20 Oct 2011 
My Spartan remain very healthy and completely pest and disease-free (Eastern UK) despite the claims that they are supposed to be prone to canker or other diseases - but perhaps that will come as the trees age. The tree itself is about medium vigour or perhaps slightly less than medium if allowed to crop heavily at a young age - which can happen because it is quite precocious and fertile. The fruit is remarkably free from pest or fungal damage, although if the skin (which is quite thick and has a yeasty "bloom") is broken, the fruits succumb surprisingly quickly to brown rot. With us having an unusually warm spring followed by an unusually cool summer, the fruits have been of inferior quality this year; developing the notorious "metallic" and "woody" taste (woody as in the taste when you lick your ice-lolly stick) which can happen occasionally. In most years, the Spartan fruit produced here is good, and palatable to most people; fairly sweet and juicy, with hints of melon and strawberry. Fruit tends to lose its quality after a few months of storage - tasting fermented and losing its texture, although, like Red Delicious, can still look excellent on the outside.

05 Oct 2009 
I purchased some of these the other day from a farmers market, who come to our local town once a month. This is the first time that I have tried them and they were recommended and I must admit they were absolutely gorgeous.

23 Aug 2009 
I have a family apple tree where Spartan is the dominant apple. It is usually a prolific flowerer/fruiter with the odd year off for recuperation. Although the apple is good, every year I lose most of the crop due to a worm parasite which seems to burrow into virtually evey apple on the tree. For this reason, most of the apples end up in pies or discarded.

16 Mar 2009 
My neighbour has one in his garden and it fruits well and is resistent to the typical Pacific Northwest crop of diseases. Tastey too.

06 Oct 2008 
Have 4 spartan in my garden. Oldest one is now 5 years,fruiting well,cover with netting to prevent attacks by birds,(they are not having MY spartan)!!!!! What a great apple,picked one or two this morning for eating latter in day.Question, Do they store?

30 May 2008 

17 Jan 2008 
Inherited this apple tree and over the years it has yielded a lot of fruit - never tasted an apple so good - bumper crop this year so brought apples into work - everyone raved about the taste,colour,texture etc yummee OP: Yes, this is an easy apple to grow, and great straight from the tree.

27 Nov 2007 
This apple has the best taste for cooking or eating and I would like to grow my own tree's, but cannot find where to buy them in Clallam County?

02 Nov 2007 
We like spartans very much but it seems to be a very short season. We've found them in Waitrose and Sainsbury's. Is it possible to buy a box from an English grower? OP: Yes, Spartans are great straight from the tree, but don't really keep.

27 Oct 2007 
Every year we pick apples at a friend's orchard, but we never knew what they were until we had them identified at the apple day at the botanical gardens last week end. The ones we love, aka "the purple ones", as my children call them, were identified as Spartan, but they are almost plum colour, with white flesh tinted pink in places, and not as squashed in shape as the one in your photo. Nothing like it really...anyway we absolutely adore them, eat them every day and have made quite a lot of juice. The others, which we also like but not as much, are Queen cox and Crispin Mutsu - these were probably ready a bit earlier and have gone a bit soft, but the taste is quite nice. We also picked some Howgate Wonder for baking, and they are nice and sharp, but I quite like to eat them raw too! Orangeippin: yes, Spartan can go very deep crimson/purple if left on the tree as late as possible.

22 Oct 2007 
My first experience of a Spartan apple, and its certianly a good one. Seems to be available in Waitrose at the moment - at least until I buy them all!

21 Oct 2007 
I have just had the apples growing in our garden identified as Spartans. I love the way they have a whitish bloom on the skin until you polish them, then they glow deep red, much darker than the picture above. They make a wonderful sunset coloured apple juice, keep well when stored - altogether, a great apple!

15 Oct 2007 
I recently went apple picking in Washington CT Averill Farm. I picked all Spartan apples, they are the BEST so far!!

15 Oct 2007 
I grow Spartan apples in my back garden. This year was an exceptional crop. One medium tree yielded nearly 200 kg of the little gems, which I shall shortly be pressing to make some Spartan Cider!

14 Oct 2007 
I love the spartan apple, but I haven't been able to find them in a long time, I finally got some at an Amish roadside stand I frequent near my home. I ate one on the way home and couldn't get over how good it was, I'm going back to get some more.

11 Oct 2007 
Bought 3 of these. My children hated them! I however adored them as they brought back memories of my childhood. No idea why. Will buy them again.

07 Oct 2007 
I absolutely love this apple, but it is extremely hard to find where I live. Every year I ask various growers from around my area, but it seems noone has them. I would appreciate knowing where I can find these delicious apples. Thanks, Pat Robbins

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Attractive, crunchy, sweet, easy to grow, and with the characteristic delicate wine-like "vinous" flavor of the McIntosh family of apples.

Spartan phototape


  • Species: Malus domestica
  • Parentage: McIntosh x Newtown Pippin (?)
  • Originates from: Canada
  • Introduced: 1926
  • Developed by: R. C. Palmer, Summerland Research Station, BC
  • Orange Pippin Cultivar ID: 1058
  • UK National Fruit Collection accession: 1974-351


  • Fruit colour: Red Becomes purple / maroon when fully ripe.
  • Flesh colour: White
  • Fruit size: Small
  • Fruit size: Medium
  • Fruit shape: Flat-round
  • Fruit shape: Short-round-conical
  • Fruit shape: Round
  • Fruit shape: Round-conical
  • Fruit shape: Conical
  • Shape features (vertical view): Lop-sided, unequal sides, irregular
  • Shape features (vertical view): Ribs more pronounced at apex, toward basin
  • Shape features (vertical view): Tapering toward calyx end or apex
  • Shape uniformity: Uniform in shape, Variable in size
  • Shape uniformity: Uniform, in size and shape
  • Bultitude apple group: 6. Red flushed, smooth, sweet
  • Russet % coverage: Low
  • Russet % coverage: Absent
  • Bloom qualities: Pale lavender colour
  • Basin russet: Little, light russet
  • Basin russet: Usually Russet free


  • Uses: Eat fresh
  • Uses: Juice
  • Uses: Drying
  • Flavour quality: Good
  • Flavour style: Sweeter
  • Flavour style: Sweet/Sharp
  • Flavour style: Aromatic
  • Flavour style: Vinous
  • Flavour style: Honeyed / Scented
  • Flavour style: Strawberry / raspberry
  • Harvest period: Late season
  • Use / keeping: 1 week
  • Vitamin C content: Low


  • Cropping: Heavy
  • Flowering group: 3
  • Fertility: Partially self-fertile Effectively self-fertile, but crops better with a polllinator.
  • Ploidy: Diploid
  • Pollinating others: Good
  • Vigour: Average growth
  • Gardening skill: Very easy
  • Fruit bearing: Spur-bearer
  • General disease resistance: Average
  • Period of origin: 1900 - 1949


  • Climate suitability: Warm climates
  • Climate suitability: Temperate climates
  • Blossom frost-resistance: Good resistance


  • Canker  - Some susceptibility
  • Scab  - Some susceptibility
  • Mildew  - Some resistance
  • Bitter pit  - Very resistant
  • Fireblight  - Some resistance
  • Cedar apple rust  - Some resistance

Relationships to other varieties

Parents and other ancestors of this variety:

Offspring of this variety:

Siblings of this variety (same parentage):

  • Empire - Spartan and Empire are half-brothers

References and further reading about this variety

  • Scab factories  2012
    Author: Adrian Baggely
  • Scab factories  2012
    Author: Adrian Baggely
  • Cedar-Apple Rust  
    Author: Stephen Vann, University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture (FSA7538)
    Rated as resistant - control only needed under high disease pressure.

  • Fruit Expert
    Author: Hessayon

Spartan identification photos from official fruit collections

UK National Fruit Collection

©Crown Copyright more >
UK National Fruit Collection

Spartan identification photos from website visitors

Spartan apples - just picked, late October 2008
Spartan apples - just picked, late October 2008

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 Spartan 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




New Zealand



Latest Spring blossom records for this variety

2016 season

  • 31st April  2016  - tree owned by James in York, United Kingdom

2015 season

  • 11th May  2015  - tree owned by Albany in CASTLETON, United States
  • 19th April  2015  - tree owned by James in York, United Kingdom

2014 season

  • 9th May  2014  - tree owned by James in York, United Kingdom
  • 6th May  2014  - tree owned by Don in TWISP, United States
  • May  2014  - tree owned by Dave in DERBY, United Kingdom
  • 19th April  2014  - tree owned by Fruittaart in LYNNWOOD, United States

2013 season

  • 10th May  2013  - tree owned by Fruittaart in LYNNWOOD, United States
  • 30th April  2013  - tree owned by Florian in Brush Prairie, United States
  • 9th April  2013  - tree owned by James in York, United Kingdom

2012 season

  • 12th May  2012  - tree owned by Fruittaart in LYNNWOOD, United States
  • 6th May  2012  - tree owned by Florian in Brush Prairie, United States
  • 26th April  2012  - tree owned by Peter in EYE, United Kingdom
  • 15th April  2012  - tree owned by James in York, United Kingdom

2011 season

  • 26th April  2011  - tree owned by Malcolm in loughborough, United Kingdom
  • 20th April  2011  - tree owned by James in MELBOURNE, United Kingdom
  • 18th April  2011  - tree owned by David in BROADSTONE, United Kingdom
  • 15th April  2011  - tree owned by James in York, United Kingdom

2010 season

  • 9th May  2010  - tree owned by N. in Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 8th May  2010  - tree owned by John in READING, United Kingdom
  • 5th May  2010  - tree owned by N. in CAMBRIDGE, United Kingdom
  • 23rd April  2010  - tree owned by Christopher in LYDD, United Kingdom
  • 28th March  2010  - tree owned by Leslie in SAN JOSE, United States

2009 season

  • 28th April  2009  - tree owned by N. in Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 23rd April  2009  - tree owned by Christopher in LYDD, United Kingdom
  • 22nd April  2009  - tree owned by N. in CAMBRIDGE, United Kingdom
  • April  2009  - tree owned by Malcolm in loughborough, United Kingdom

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

Latest harvest records for this variety

2016 season

  • 3rd week October  2016  - tree owned by James in York, United Kingdom
  • 2nd week October  2016  - tree owned by John in MALMESBURY, United Kingdom

2015 season

  • 4th week October  2015  - tree owned by James in York, United Kingdom
  • 3rd week October  2015  - tree owned by John in MALMESBURY, United Kingdom

2014 season

  • 2nd week October  2014  - tree owned by John in MALMESBURY, United Kingdom
  • 1st week October  2014  - tree owned by James in York, United Kingdom

2013 season

  • 3rd week October  2013  - tree owned by James in York, United Kingdom
  • 4th week September  2013  - tree owned by Florian in Brush Prairie, United States
  • 4th week April  2013  - tree owned by Katrina in NELSON, New Zealand

2012 season

  • 1st week October  2012  - tree owned by James in York, United Kingdom

2011 season

  • 3rd week October  2011  - tree owned by Tara in Bremerton, United States
  • 4th week September  2011  - tree owned by Colin in , United Kingdom

2010 season

  • 2nd week October  2010  - tree owned by Colin in , United Kingdom
  • 3rd week September  2010  - tree owned by James in York, United Kingdom
  • 2nd week September  2010  - tree owned by Christopher in LYDD, United Kingdom

2009 season

  • 2nd week October  2009  - tree owned by Richard in YORK, United Kingdom
  • 2nd week September  2009  - tree owned by Christopher in LYDD, United Kingdom
  • September  2009  - tree owned by N. in CAMBRIDGE, United Kingdom
  • September  2009  - tree owned by Malcolm in loughborough, United Kingdom

Where to buy trees

The following fruit tree nurseries offer Spartan apple trees for sale:

Where to buy fresh fruit

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