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

Margil apple


Margil is amongst the oldest of dessert apple varieties grown in England. Robert Hogg, writing in his book 'The Fruit Manual' in 1884 claims that Margil is:

"One of the finest dessert apples, a rival of the Ribston Pippin, excelling it in juiciness, and being of a better size for dessert."

Although its origins are unknown Hogg reports evidence of cultivation at Brompton Park Nursery in the 1750s. He also suggests that the variety is French in origin, partly from its name, and partly because one of the partners in the Brompton Park Nursery had previously worked in the gardens at Versailles. This makes Margil one of a select band of apple varieties with a documented history going back more than 250 years.

Margil is a fairly small apple, with an attractive flushed appearance, and a strong, clean, well-balanced flavour which puts it very much in the mainstream of Cox-style apples. Only the tendency to russetting might be held against it. Although separated by at least 200 years, Margil is quite similar in flavour to Braeburn, and has no trouble holding its own against modern varieties.

Margil is quite easy to grow, and is a particularly good choice if you have a mild temperate maritime climate. It is a popular variety in south-west Scotland and the English Lake District.

We speculated here, in a previous version of this page, that Margil was remarkably similar to Cox's Orange Pippin - the flattened shape, flushed russet tones, and tremendous depth of flavour all suggested that somewhere there must be a common ancestor. Since then genetic testing has confirmed that Margil is indeed one of the parents of Cox's Orange Pippin. 

Although it has many excellent characteristics, Margil has faded from view, and is now almost impossible to obtain. However the variety is still available from specialist apple tree nurseries, so this is the best way to experience Margil - and to try a taste straight from the 18th century.


Margil apple identification images

All images copyright Orange Pippin unless otherwise stated.

  • Margil
  • Margil
  • Margil

USDA identification images for Margil

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

  • USDA watercolor image of Malus domestica: Margil

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

Offspring of this variety

Visitor reviews

  • 18 Sep 2018  WA, United States
    Got a sample of this from Scott Farm, VT last January. Great flavor despite travelling across the country and too much time at room temperature. Worth seeking and growing.
  • 27 Oct 2013  CAMBRIDGE, United Kingdom
    I have inherited a Margil tree in my allotment, and have just today had the variety identified at the Botanic Garden in Cambridge. I have enjoyed the apples very much for some years - they are small but have a lovely aromatic and sweet taste, and are not at all woolly as some Cox apples can be. I wondered if they were Cox, and that the reason they tasted better than a bought Cox was that they were fresh off my tree - so it is a lovely surprise to find they are actually such an old variety. The tree itself is very ancient and propped up with a stake - I will try to keep it going as long as I can!
  • 27 Nov 2011  WILTSHIRE, United States
    I have a single Margil tree grown on dwarfing stock as a rather haphazard sort of cordon! It grows near a South facing wall with shade of other trees to the East. It gives apples of a fine delicate flavour with an excellent crisp, juicy texture. It is, however a pig to grow as it has been plagued by bacterial canker and looked to be producing an excellent crop this year until canker struck and prevented any apples from maturing. I love this little tree but it fails to repay such feelings!!
  • 31 Oct 2009  NEW YORK, NY, United States
    Took my first bite of a Margil today, (prompted by Edward A. Bunyard's "The Anatomy of Dessert" and morning luck at the farmer's market). This Margil was thoroughly russetted, so the expectation of something bosc pear-like in flavor was met. What was unexpected and quite pleasant were notes of pineapple mingled with apple. The Margil is a delightful apple worth seeking out.
  • 05 Nov 2008  DERVAIG, ISLE OF MULL, United Kingdom
    I grow Margil in the walled garden here on the Isle of Mull. Whereas there is no way a Cox will perform this far north, Margil produces heavily, and with a truly wonderful flavour. The shape here is more elongated that above, almost lemon shaped in appearance. Being a tip-bearer, cautious pruning to establish a sensible sized fruit producing tree takes a little care, but well repays the effort. We produce trees for sale from our own stock.l

Tree register

United States

United Kingdom


Spring blossom records for this variety

2020 season

  • 21st April  2020  - tree owned by Jerry in Point Reyes Station, United States

2014 season

  • 1st May  2014  - tree owned by Lawrence in Mayfield, United Kingdom

2012 season

  • 2nd May  2012  - tree owned by Alan in Newport-On-Tay, United Kingdom

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


  • Species: Malus domestica - Apple
  • Parentage: Unknown
  • Originates from: France
  • Introduced: 1750s
  • UK National Fruit Collection accession: 1984-011


  • Country of origin: France
  • Period of origin: 1750 - 1799
  • Fruit colour: Orange flush
  • Flower colour: Pink - light
  • Leaf colour: Green
  • Popularity: Rarely grown
  • Annual cycle: Deciduous


  • Picking season: Late
  • Keeping (of fruit): 1-2 months
  • Flavour quality: Very good
  • Flavour style (apples): Aromatic
  • Discoloration of fruit: Oxidising
  • Vitamin C content: Low
  • Cropping: Good
  • Fruit persistence: Normal ripening
  • Food uses: Eating fresh
  • Food uses: Juice
  • Picking period: early October
  • Wildlife: RHS Plants for Pollinators


  • Gardening skill: Average
  • Flowering group: 3
  • Pollinating others: Average
  • Ploidy: Diploid
  • Vigour: Average vigour
  • Bearing regularity: Regular
  • Fruit bearing: Spur-bearer
  • Self-fertility: Not self-fertile


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

Other qualities

  • Disease resistance: Average
  • Scab (Apple and Pear): Some resistance
  • Canker: Some susceptibility

Where to buy trees

The following tree nurseries offer Margil apple trees for sale:

Where to buy fresh fruit

The following orchards grow Margil:

United States

United Kingdom



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