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."

Whilst 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's contemporaries include Court Pendu Plat, Ashmeads Kernel, and Ribston Pippin. These are all varieties with strong apple-y flavors, but with the exception of Ribston Pippin, which had some commercial success in the first half of the 19th century, they have all remained minor varieties and relatively unknown. Court Pendu Plat and Ribston Pippin both seem to have come from France or the Continent, like Margil.

To apple lovers of the 21st century, Margil is in many ways the most accessible of these 18th century varieties, with more delicacy than Ribston Pippin and a less provocative flavour than Court Pendu Plat or Ashmeads Kernel. It 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.

Incidentally, notwithstanding the Cox-like characteristics, there is no known link with Cox's Orange Pippin - which in any case is widely believed to be a seedling of Ribston Pippin. However, trying Margil and Cox side by side, the flattened shape, the flushed russet tones, and the tremendous depth of flavour all suggest that somewhere there must be a common ancestor.

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 identification images

USDA identification images for Margil

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

  • Year: 1913

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

Offspring of this variety

See also

  • Ribston Pippin - Margil and Ribston Pippin both originate from England in the mid 18th century but with strong links to France.

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
  • Parentage: Unknown
  • Introduced: 1750s


  • Picking season: Late
  • Cropping: Good
  • Keeping (of fruit): 1-2 months
  • Flavor style (apples): Aromatic
  • Food uses: Eating fresh
  • Food uses: Juice
  • Discoloration of fruit: Oxidising


  • Self-fertility: Not self-fertile
  • Flowering group: 3
  • Ploidy: Diploid
  • Bearing regularity: Regular


  • Summer average maximum temperatures: Cool ( 20-24C / 68-75F)


  • Country of origin: France
  • Period of origin: 1750 - 1799
  • Flower colour: Pink - light
  • Leaf colour: Green
  • Fruit colour: Orange flush

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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