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

Jonathan apple

A classic American variety, and widely regarded as one of the best flavoured with a good sweet/sharp balance. A precocious and productive tree in US apple-growing regions.

Jonathan identification images

  • Jonathan

USDA identification images for Jonathan

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


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

Parents and other ancestors of this variety


Offspring of this variety


Sports of this variety

Sports are natural genetic mutations of the original variety.


See also

  • Lady Williams - Jonathan has been suggested as a possible parent of Lady Williams.

Visitor reviews

  • 20 Nov 2018  MO, United States
    My favorite apple. They are available all year at Dierbergs in St. Louis.
  • 06 Oct 2018  MT, United States
    Born in the 50s I grew up on the rather short buying season for these delicious apple. They are hard to find these days and they don't store well, so don't stock up. I'm wondering how a side by side comparison with Jonagold would go. I think I will plant both.
  • 06 Oct 2018  CO, United States
    My mother was born and raised in Iowa, and this is the apple that she remembered fondly. I had never eaten one until today when an old man in the neighborhood identified his tree as a Jonathan. I tried one, and it was like an explosion in my mouth! Sweet ,tart and crispy. Let's bring this wonderful old apple back!
  • 23 Oct 2015  MASSACHUSETTS, United States
    In Vermont, this tree grows poorly: apples can be small and deformed, very susceptible to scab, and trees experience stunted growth. But the firm tartness of the flesh make this a rewarding Sour Patch kid for the tongue.
  • 16 Sep 2015  HAWAII, United States
    This is my absolute favorite apple. I grew up in Iowa and these would always be in the grocery store in the fall and winter. They keep for quite a long time and have an amazing sweet/sharp taste that's a bit acidic. I'd love to try a hard cider made from these apples. They're great for snacking and for cooking, but note that they remain somewhat firm in pies and applesauces. They don't mush up like McIntoshes. If you can't find them fresh, Stouffer's sells a frozen side called "Harvest Apples" which is essentially just Jonathan apples and cinnamon. I'm in the military and always seem to end up in places that don't carry these apples. I'm all the way out in Hawaii now and they're nowhere to be found! Woe is me!
  • 02 Sep 2015  AZ, United States
    I grew up in Kansas City. My parents would by a bushel of Jonathan's in the Fall and store them in the basement where they would last through the winter. My mom made the most unbelievable pies using Jonathan's. I think they are simply the best eating apples produced. Unfortunately here in the Phoenix area they haven't been available for 10 years or so. They have been replaced with Jonagolds, not the same. I have been told it's because of a longer shelf life. Too bad, I really miss them.
  • 10 Feb 2015  SIBIU, Hungary
    We have plenty of Johnathan's here. ...and you are right, they are delightful. I'm actually in Romania not Hungary, but this comment interface doesn't recognize Romania for some reason
  • 29 Sep 2014  KY, United States
    Doesn't make any difference if they're USDA or organic or GMO!! Lol. Jonathans are the best apples ever! I can't seem to find them here where I live either. I guess they were like everything else, we liked them so well that the growers decided to stop. Sad that growers let such a good thing slip through their fingers. I don't like eating cardboard and that's what all the other varieties taste like!!
  • 26 Sep 2014  MO, United States
    For me Jonathans are what an apple should taste like, tart, crisp, and rich. My parents' Jonathan apple tree is over 30 years old, so I'm not sure how much longer it will last, but it has almost ruined me on other apple varieties.
  • 26 Sep 2014  MO, United States
    My parents had a Red Delicious, Jonathan, and Green Transparent. My mom used to make good tart applesauce from the Green Transparents, and the Red Delicious had the largest apples which were dark red and visually appealing, but if I wanted an apple to eat I picked one from the Jonathan tree. Jonathans have ruined me on other apple varieties. They are tart and crisp and for me other apples, especially store bought, taste bland and synthetic. Sadly, to me, I've had trouble finding Jonathan's in stores and that tree in my parent's yard, though it still produces apples is at least 30 years old.
  • 14 Oct 2013  MI, United States
    No other variety can beat the Jonathans. My mother (a child of the depression era - no one can bake like them! :) ) swore by them for her out-of-this-world pies and desserts. This apple has gotten lost in the vast plethora of awful newer varieties, in my opinion. I don't think this generation has any idea of what should constitute a great apple! They are the best for eating and baking; best flavor hands down. They are plentiful (thankfully) in Michigan's wonderful season this year - I am so happy!
  • 13 Oct 2013  MICHIGAN, United States
    We have many Jonathans on our property here in U.P.
  • 07 Sep 2013  OREGON, United States
    Jonathan apples are the very best, but they are hard to find. My mother used to ship them to me from Indiana.
  • 03 Jun 2013  IL, United States
    I can not find Johnathan apples anywhere around me in a range of 50 miles, people tell me to try this apple or that apple and none compare with the Johnathan, they are best for eating and cooking so I gave up eating apples until I find Johnathan.
  • 09 May 2013  MARYLAND, United States
    Jonathan has become a difficult to find apple. Here in Maryland I have to drive up to the Mount Airy / Frederick area to buy them directly from family owned orchards. They are worth the effort! Eating one of these apples is an experience: crisp, juicy, perfect sweet/tart balance, and an explosion of "appley" flavor. The best cider in the world was once sold at the old Cider Barrel in Germantown, which is sadly now long gone. The owners once told me that they used the juice from the Jonathan apple in the mix to add depth of flavor. Jonathan's are also excellent cooking apples. Basically the perfect American apple.
  • 22 Jul 2012  MO, United States
    This was always my favorite apple for over 50 years, but it seems the ones sold in stores the past 10 years or so are just not up to "snuff". The old style Jonathan is hard to beat. Fuji comes close, but still not as good as the old time Jonathans were. Great apple for making caramel apples at Halloween.
  • 24 Apr 2012  CO, United States
    I wait all year for the short season for Jonathans, my favorite eating apple!
  • 15 Jan 2012  United States
    Are these apples USDA organic?
  • 15 Oct 2011  NJ, United States
    If I had to choose just one variety of apple, this would be the one. Short shelf life, but best flavor.
  • 28 Jan 2011  OKLAHOMA, LINCOLN, United States
    them there apples r the best id ever had and them were so dern good it was like, BAM, and i didn't know what to do so i just kept eatin'em
  • 12 Jan 2011  United States
    I just came back from Niles, Michigan, and bought a peck of jonathan apples from Shelton Farms Market. I had bought them in Louisiana once, but they were not fresh. I'm so glad I looked for them in Michigan, where they are more often grown. They are as good as I remembered! My family grew up driving to Michigan to buy apples every fall for canning.
  • 14 Oct 2010  COLORADO, United States
    Back in the 70's and 80's, the Jonathons we got around here (Colorado) came in right after Labor Day and were small, tart and delicious. Now they don't show up until October and are large, mushy and not very tart. My theory is that the breeders have ruined them in the quest for ever larger fruit. Occasionally you can find some organic Jonathons similar to the old fashioned ones . I really miss them.
  • 20 Sep 2010  NAGANO-KEN, Japan
    This apple was renamed "Kougyoku" when introduced into Japan. It was a standard here for a long time, until the (bland and insipid) Fuji came along. Thousands of acres of Kougyoku were ripped up and the orchards replanted with Fuji. However, it looks as though the Kougyoku is staging a comeback. Many older customers are now searching for this variety as, in agreement with the other comments above, they recall it as having had a superior flavour both as an eater and as a cooker. Many orchards are starting to restock and M9, virus-free seedlings are now widely available. And yes, it's a rollicking good apple!
  • 15 Sep 2010  MA, United States
    Just had my first taste of one from the E.L. Sylvia Farm of Dighton, MA (they come to the Stoneham Farmer's market). A wonderful discovery!
  • 08 Nov 2009  LAKE HAVASU CITY,AZ., United States
    I agree with this person.Jonathan apples were,are the best!But where do you buy them?I grew up in Washington State where ALL those were grown,and have family still there,and THEY can't find them either.Where can I buy them from a packer?
  • 01 Nov 2009  BRAZORIA COUNTY, TEXAS, United States
    In the '40s and '50s, Mom used to buy Jonathan apples for us, even 'way down here on the Texas Gulf Coast, south of Houston. They were our favorites. But I haven't seen them in the stores for years. They're still my favorites. Jonagold and Honeycrisp are good, but not nearly as good as Jonathan. I know I'd eat a lot more apples if Jonathans were available at the local markets.
  • 12 Oct 2009  PEORIA, MARICOPA CO. ARIZONA, United States
    I need a source to buy Jonathans; anyone?
  • 17 Sep 2009  PHILADELPHIA, United States
    If you can get to Langhorne Pa. find Styers orchard. They allow you to 'pick your own' and that includes Jonathan apples. Thee apples are so sweet/tart and must be eaten with a napkin, to catch the juice. The family sold out the store a few years back, and you must drive behind the store to get to the pick your own spot. Well worth the trip.
  • 22 Mar 2009  New Zealand
    We are growing one of these on our property. It has a grafted branch of granny smith apples and a local expert tells us this is required for the Jonathon to be more productive.
  • 22 Feb 2009  AGOURA HILLS, CA, United States
    How could I not like this apple? ;-)
  • 22 Oct 2008  WAUKEGAN, LAKE COUNTY, ILLINOIS, United States
    The Jonathan is my favorite apple for baking. In my opinion it makes the most flavorful and delicious apple pie possible. It has the perfect sweet/tart flavor for pie and any baked apple dessert. Sadly, in recent years it has become harder and harder to find around here. It only seems to be available for a short time in the fall and even then is hard to find.
  • 08 Oct 2008  ESSEX COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS, United States
    This is probably my favorite eating apple, but I have only had it a very few times. I live on the East Coast of the USA, and from what I have been told it is more widely available in the Midwest (Ohio) than it is in the East. :-( To my mind the flavor does indeed have a nice balance of sweet with sharp, but infusing both is a distinct hint of spice. It is the only apple I know of whose flavor immediately reminds me of apple cider. To me when I bite into one it is as if I am biting into apple cider, a fascinating experience considering apple cider is a liquid! :-)

Tree register

United States

United Kingdom

Austria

Belgium

Canada

Australia

New Zealand

Switzerland

Japan

Poland

Spring blossom records for this variety

2017 season

  • 19th October  2017  - tree owned by Neville in Tea Tree Gully, Australia

2016 season

  • 18th October  2016  - tree owned by Neville in Tea Tree Gully, Australia

2014 season

  • 10th May  2014  - tree owned by Jeff in Reading, United States

2013 season

  • 19th May  2013  - tree owned by Mike in Westfield, United States
  • 15th April  2013  - tree owned by Beth in Dequeen, United States
  • April  2013  - tree owned by Kassie in Marysville, United States

2012 season

  • April  2012  - tree owned by Johan in Gent, Belgium

2010 season

  • 15th October  2010  - tree owned by Marinus in Mount Evelyn, Australia
  • 5th May  2010  - tree owned by Johan in Gent, Belgium
  • 12th April  2010  - tree owned by Natalie in Chesapeake, United States

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


Harvest records for this variety

2019 season

  • 3rd week October  2019  - tree owned by Jon in Shaw Island, United States
  • 2nd week September  2019  - tree owned by Dallin in Syracuse, United States

2015 season

  • 4th week September  2015  - tree owned by Mark in Glastonbury, United States
  • 3rd week September  2015  - tree owned by Michelle in Glenwood, United States

2013 season

  • 4th week October  2013  - tree owned by Alison in Albion, United States
  • October  2013  - tree owned by Slippy in Hamburg, United States
  • 1st week September  2013  - tree owned by Vincent in Bowmanville, Canada
  • September  2013  - tree owned by baker3@wildblue.net in Thawville, United States
  • 3rd week August  2013  - tree owned by Kassie in Marysville, United States
  • 2nd week August  2013  - tree owned by Beth in Dequeen, United States
  • 4th week March  2013  - tree owned by Katrina in Nelson, New Zealand

2012 season

  • October  2012  - tree owned by Johan in Gent, Belgium
  • 1st week September  2012  - tree owned by Laurie in Belton, United States
  • September  2012  - tree owned by Colleen in Occidental, United States
  • 2nd week August  2012  - tree owned by J. in Danville, United States
  • 2nd week August  2012  - tree owned by J. in Danville, United States

2010 season

  • October  2010  - tree owned by Freyja in Kings Meaburn/ Penrith, United Kingdom

Origins

  • Species: Malus domestica
  • Parentage: Espopus Spitzenberg seedling
  • Introduced: 1864

Using

  • Picking season: Late
  • Cropping: Heavy
  • Keeping (of fruit): 3 months or more
  • Flavor style (apples): Aromatic
  • Food uses: Eating fresh
  • Food uses: Culinary
  • Cooking result: Textured puree

Growing

  • Self-fertility: Partially self-fertile
  • Flowering group: 3
  • Ploidy: Diploid
  • Growth habit: Weeping
  • Bearing regularity: Regular

Climate

  • Summer average maximum temperatures: Cool ( 20-24C / 68-75F)
  • Summer average maximum temperatures: Warm (25-30C / 76-85F)

Identification

  • Country of origin: United States
  • Period of origin: 1800 - 1849
  • Flower colour: White
  • Leaf colour: Green
  • Fruit colour: Orange / Red

Where to buy trees

The following tree nurseries offer Jonathan apple trees for sale:

  • Cummins Nursery
    United States  More >>

Where to buy fresh fruit

The following orchards grow Jonathan:

United States


United Kingdom


Canada


Australia




References

  • Cedar-Apple Rust  
    Author: Stephen Vann, University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture (FSA7538)
    Rated as highly susceptible - control always needed where CAR is prevalent.
  • Apples for the 21st Century
    Author: Manhart
  • Apples of England (1948)
    Author: Taylor

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