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Brownlees Russet apple

Brownlees' Russet was a popular russet apple in the Victorian era but unlike some of its contemporaries (notably Egremont Russet) it has faded from view.  It was rated by the Victorian writer Hogg as an excellent late apple, suitable for dessert and cooking.

Brownlees' Russet is noticeably different from the mainstream russet varieties characterised by Egremont Russet.  There is clearly something a bit stronger in its make-up - it recalls another, older, russet variety, Ashmeads Kernel in this respect.  The flavour is more robust with pear-drop overtones, and it is a far better keeper than many other russets, indeed it is probably at its best when stored for 2-3 months.  However it shares some of the other typical characteristics of russet apples - it is easy to grow and has good disease resistance, and attractive blossom.

USDA identification images for Brownlees Russet

The identification paintings in the USDA Pomological Watercolor Collection span the years 1886 to 1942.

    Citation: U.S. Department of Agriculture Pomological Watercolor Collection. Rare and Special Collections, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, MD 20705.

    Visitor reviews

    • 25 Oct 2016  LINCOLNSHIRE, United Kingdom
      I have both Egremont Russet and Brownlees Russet. I find Brownlees Russet consistently performs much better than Egremont. It crops more heavily and the apples are amazingly flawless and consistently perfect.
    • 11 Jul 2015  HERTS, United Kingdom
      My Brownlees' Russet was planted in 2011, on M26 rootstock, and is already cropping more heavily than some trees planted in 2008. Delicious - fruty and sharp. Should be better known.
    • 01 Dec 2012  VEJLE, Denmark
      According to John Bultitude's "Apples - a Guide to the Identification of International Varieties" Brownlees' Russet "produces spurs very freely". This guide also categorizes it as a spur-bearer:
    • 24 Jul 2012  WA, United States
      I couldn't find any information on this but it seems to be mostly a tip-bearing variety. Any thoughts?
    • 08 Sep 2010  NORFOLK, United Kingdom
      Agree with N.buck's comments about excellent quality disease free fruit without spraying. Would be interested to know when others think is the best time to pick this variety for storage
    • 22 Jul 2010  WA, United States
      Dave: I didn't keep track of when or how long the tree bloomed since pollination is never an issue in my orchard. Raintree Nursery classifies it as an early blooming variety. The early varieties seemed to do much better this year and the tree has a lot of fruit for its size, which supports the early blooming category. I had some fruit last year if you would like any information about the fruit. FYI - Raintree Nursery has been a big disappointment and I can not recommend buying from them.
    • 15 Jul 2010  CAMBRIDGESHIRE, United Kingdom
      My Brownlees Russets bloom early-mid season, with the M26 being slightly earlier than the M25. The blossom period of my Brownlees Russets seems to be a day or two shorter than most other varieties. The blossom of Brownlees Russet is a stunning display of light pink (yes, pink; not just pink buds that open to become disappointingly white flowers). Many people have commented on the attractive blossom, having been able to compare simultaneously with some of my other varieties. Brownlees Russet seems to be eager to flower prolifically at a very young age. Pest and disease resistance is generally good and suitable for spray-free growing in all but the wettest regions, although - like many russets - the leaves (but not fruits) tend to suffer from scab, which will reduce vigour in high-rainfall regions. The vigour is not particularly high to begin with - probably 15% smaller than the average for an apple variety. My Brownlees Russet trees are located in a relatively mild part of the UK.
    • 12 Jul 2010  WASHINGTON, United States
      Florian Deisenhofer: Let me know how your Brownlees Russet blooms - early, mid- late? Long bloom, short? Since you seem to have planted it only last year (2009) I won't ask more, and quite possibly it didn't bloom at all yet.
    • 01 Jan 2010  United Kingdom
      Starter post

    Tree register

    United States

    United Kingdom



    New Zealand

    • Giles in HAMILTON, WAIKATO

    Spring blossom records for this variety

    2019 season

    • 30th April  2019  - tree owned by Sarah in Durham, United Kingdom

    2015 season

    • 1st May  2015  - tree owned by Stephen in Hemel Hempstead, United Kingdom

    2013 season

    • 17th May  2013  - tree owned by Celia in Manchester, United Kingdom
    • 26th April  2013  - tree owned by Florian in Brush Prairie, United States

    2012 season

    • 3rd May  2012  - tree owned by Florian in Brush Prairie, United States
    • 28th April  2012  - tree owned by Lenore in Beverley, United Kingdom

    2010 season

    • 1st May  2010  - tree owned by N. in Cambridge, United Kingdom
    • 25th April  2010  - tree owned by N. in Cambridge, United Kingdom

    2009 season

    • 23rd April  2009  - tree owned by N. in Cambridge, United Kingdom
    • 19th April  2009  - tree owned by N. in Cambridge, United Kingdom

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

    Harvest records for this variety

    2009 season

    • October  2009  - tree owned by N. in Cambridge, United Kingdom
    • October  2009  - tree owned by N. in Cambridge, United Kingdom


    • Species: Malus domestica - Apple
    • Originates from: Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, England, United Kingdom
    • Introduced: 1848
    • Developed by: Mr William Brownlees (a nurseryman)
    • UK National Fruit Collection accession: 1957-179


    • Country of origin: United Kingdom
    • Period of origin: 1800 - 1849
    • Fruit colour: Russet
    • Flower colour: Pink
    • Leaf colour: Green
    • Popularity: Under-rated
    • Annual cycle: Deciduous


    • Picking season: Late
    • Keeping (of fruit): 3 months or more
    • Flavour quality: Very good
    • Flavour style (apples): Sweeter
    • Cropping: Good
    • Food uses: Eating fresh
    • Food uses: Culinary
    • Food uses: Juice
    • Picking month: October
    • Picking period: early October
    • Wildlife: RHS Plants for Pollinators


    • Gardening skill: Beginner
    • Flowering group: 3
    • Pollinating others: Average
    • Ploidy: Diploid
    • Vigour: Slightly small
    • Precocity: Precocious
    • Bearing regularity: Regular
    • Growth habit: Spreading / Flat-topped
    • Fruit bearing: Spur-bearer
    • Organic culture: Suitable
    • Attractive features: Attractive flowers
    • Self-fertility: Self-fertile


    • Climate suitability: Temperate climates
    • Climate suitability: Mild damp climates
    • Summer average maximum temperatures: Cool ( 20-24C / 68-75F)

    Other qualities

    • Disease resistance: Good

    Where to buy fresh fruit

    The following orchards grow Brownlees Russet:

    United States

    United Kingdom



    • Apples of England (1948)
      Author: Taylor

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