All about apples, pears, plums, and cherries - and orchards where they are grown

Cornish Gilliflower apple

Cornish Gilliflower is probably the best and most widely-grown of the apple varieties originating from Cornwall.  It has all the attributes of the classic Victorian English apple - notably a sweet aromatic flavour with perfumed overtones and an attractive flushed appearance.  It is acknowledged as one of the best-flavoured English apples.

It is also a relatively good keeper, and can be eaten well into the new year.

The Victorian author Hogg explained the origin of the word "gilliflower" or "gillyflower" as being a corruption of the French word "girofle" signifying clove - and the blossom of this variety has a clove-like scent.

Hogg also recommends growing this variety as an espalier on dwarf rootstock - although modern authorities would not recommend this style because Cornish Gilliflower bears apples on the tips of its branches, making it unsuitable for training in this way.

Cornish Gilliflower identification images

USDA identification images for Cornish Gilliflower

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

    • 13 Oct 2016  Ireland
      Just tasted my first apple off my Cornish Gilliflower. Wow! I've marked it down to cut lots of scion wood this winter with the aim of top-working a couple of trees over to this variety. A great apple - only downside is - at least in my case - it was a long time (seven years) coming into bearing. Worth the wait though - the flavour is outstanding.
    • 15 Nov 2013  SOUTHAMPTON, United Kingdom
      We have a Cornish Gillyflower although it looks more russety than in the picture - not a hint of red. Very erratic and biennial bearer, though very delicious apples. They may be keepers but are gorgeous straight off the tree, so we'll probably never know.

    Tree register

    United States

    United Kingdom

    Ireland

    Italy

    Netherlands

    Australia

    • Hayden in Winslow, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA

    Switzerland

    Spring blossom records for this variety

    2021 season

    • 15th May  2021  - tree owned by Jim in Mequon, United States
    • 15th May  2021  - tree owned by Jim in Mequon, United States

    2020 season

    • 24th May  2020  - tree owned by Jim in Mequon, United States

    2019 season

    • 28th May  2019  - tree owned by Jim in Mequon, United States

    2018 season

    • 30th May  2018  - tree owned by Jim in Mequon, United States

    2017 season

    • May  2017  - tree owned by Jim in Mequon, United States

    2016 season

    • 14th April  2016  - tree owned by Kenneth in Topeka, United States

    2012 season

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


    Harvest records for this variety

    2021 season

    • 1st week October  2021  - tree owned by Jim in Mequon, United States

    2020 season

    • 4th week September  2020  - tree owned by Jim in Mequon, United States

    2011 season

    • 4th week August  2011  - tree owned by Jan in Castel D'Aiano, Italy

    Origins

    • Species: Malus domestica
    • Introduced: 1813
    • Developed by: Discovered by Sir Christopher Hawkins

    Using

    • Picking season: Very late
    • Cropping: Good
    • Keeping (of fruit): 3 months or more
    • Flavor style (apples): Aromatic
    • Food uses: Eating fresh
    • Discoloration of fruit: Oxidising

    Growing

    • Attractive features: Attractive flowers
    • Self-fertility: Not self-fertile
    • Flowering group: 4
    • Ploidy: Diploid
    • Bearing regularity: Regular

    Climate

    • Cold hardiness (USDA): (5) -20F / -29C
    • Summer average maximum temperatures: Cold (< 20C / 67F)
    • Summer average maximum temperatures: Cool ( 20-24C / 68-75F)

    Identification

    • Country of origin: United Kingdom
    • Period of origin: 1800 - 1849
    • Flower colour: Pink - light
    • Leaf colour: Green
    • Fruit colour: Green

    Where to buy trees

    The following tree nurseries offer Cornish Gilliflower apple trees for sale:


    Where to buy fresh fruit

    The following orchards grow Cornish Gilliflower:

    United States


    United Kingdom


    Canada




    References

    • Apples of England (1948)
      Author: Taylor

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