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Roxbury Russet apple

Roxbury Russet

Roxbury Russet is generally recognised to be the oldest apple variety which originated in North America, and its history can be traced back to the colonial era.  It is very probably a seedling of an apple variety brought over by early settlers from Europe.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the development of apples in North America is that very few of the original European varieties adapted to the climate.  Hence most of the apple varieties that became popular as the United States spread westward were grown from seedlings (often of European varieties at first) which had proven more suited to the local conditions and thus been propagated further - this is one of the useful consequences of the fact that apples do not grow true from seed.  Roxbury Russet also has some resistance to cedar apple rust and fireblight, which are prevalent in some of the eastern states.

Roxbury Russet is in most respects typical of that group of apples known as russets.  Although it has some tartness it is like all russets a fundamentally sweet apple.  It is also a fairly good keeper, an important attribute before the advent of modern storage methods.  Visually the extent of russeting can vary considerably, in some seasons and on some trees it can be extensive, whilst in other situations there may be very little.

Although the parentage of Roxbury Russet is unknown, it is possible that it shares some common ancestor with Ashmead's Kernel - although Roxbury Russet predates Ashmead's Kernel by about a century and the latter was raised in England not the United States.  However Ashmead's Kernel has a slightly odd flavor which is in some ways reminscent of Roxbury Russet.  As well as the traditional green/yellow russet both Roxbury Russet and Ashmead's Kernel can exhibit some reddening.

Roxbury Russet apple identification images

All images copyright Orange Pippin unless otherwise stated.

  • Roxbury Russet
  • Roxbury Russet
  • Roxbury Russet
  • Roxbury Russet
  • Roxbury Russet

USDA identification images for Roxbury Russet

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

  • USDA watercolor image of Malus domestica: Roxbury Russet
  • USDA watercolor image of Malus domestica: Roxbury Russet
  • USDA watercolor image of Malus domestica: Roxbury Russet

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

Visitor reviews

  • 10 May 2022  PA, United States
    excited to try this one, so far a vigorous grower/performer. I grafted a scion into an existing Liberty Apple tree, which is an absolute rockstar! Got blooms on the Ticket this year, grafted about 2 years ago.
  • 25 Oct 2015  MASSACHUSETTS, United States
    Sometimes the worst looking apple in the fruit bowl is the one that tastes the best. If consumers would choose apples with their taste buds, this variety would be a contender for best seller due to its cidery, sugary sweetness. Hard to keep in storage as long as promised without shrinking in on itself, even in Roslindale (part of what was at one time the colonial town of Roxbury) - Carter Wilkie, Boston
  • 02 Dec 2014  WEST BARNSTABLE, United States
    Roxbury russet is an excellent apple; imagine a slightly faded golden russet. The same spiceyness is present, just not as intensely. Texture is good, crunchy but not a tooth breaker. Some day I'll find out if they really can be kept as long as is claimed, but I'll need to have a larger supply before I'll be able to keep from eating them all before the experiment ends.
  • 19 Oct 2014  MA, United States
    2 trees on M7 just planted Spring 2014. After cutting to about 3 feet at planting they have grown nicely to just over 6 feet this season.
  • 05 Oct 2014  WA., United States
    Russets were one of my favorite apples the other being cox's orange Pippins. I grew up in England but I don't know what varieties we had. I now live in Washington. What would you recommend that will grow well in western Wa? Will these varieties cross pollinate? Are they keepers? When should they be planted? It has been many many years since I was in England but I still remember the flavors. Thank you. Suli Angeni.
  • 18 Oct 2013  MA, United States
    I was raised in West Roxbury and spent a few weeks looking for this variety this year. I founf the apple's flesh to be sweet and dense, and the skin slightly bitter and rough. Aftertaste has a touch of honey. Quite satisfying!
  • 09 Nov 2012  TX, United States
    Flesh is not crisp, but the flavor is--bright and clean. Sweet but with some tart. If you left a Granny Smith on the tree and let it mellow, it might taste like this. Pleasant old heirloom variety.

Tree register

United States

United Kingdom


Spring blossom records for this variety

2016 season

  • 3rd June  2016  - tree owned by B. in Searsmont, United States

2014 season

  • 24th May  2014  - tree owned by D. in Toronto, Canada
  • 6th May  2014  - tree owned by Jeff in Reading, United States
  • 18th April  2014  - tree owned by Anthony in San Diego, United States

2013 season

  • 4th May  2013  - tree owned by Jeff in Reading, United States

2012 season

  • 9th May  2012  - tree owned by James in Estacada, United States
  • 8th May  2012  - tree owned by Florian in Brush Prairie, United States
  • 20th April  2012  - tree owned by Jeff in Reading, United States

2011 season

  • May  2011  - tree owned by v in Lucknow, Canada
  • 28th March  2011  - tree owned by Martin in Lakeport, United States

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

Harvest records for this variety

2016 season

  • 3rd week September  2016  - tree owned by B. in Searsmont, United States

2015 season

  • September  2015  - tree owned by Roger in Madison Heights, United States

2012 season

  • 3rd week November  2012  - tree owned by James in Estacada, United States

2011 season

  • 2nd week October  2011  - tree owned by Martin in Lakeport, United States
  • 1st week October  2011  - tree owned by v in Lucknow, Canada


  • Species: Malus domestica - Apple
  • Parentage: Unknown, probably European variety
  • Originates from: Massachusetts, United States
  • Introduced: Early 17th century
  • UK National Fruit Collection accession: 1952-111


  • Country of origin: United States
  • Period of origin: 1600 - 1649
  • Fruit colour: Russet
  • Flower colour: Pink - light
  • Leaf colour: Green
  • Popularity: Best sellers
  • Annual cycle: Deciduous


  • Picking season: Late
  • Keeping (of fruit): 3 months or more
  • Flavour quality: Good
  • Flavour style (apples): Sweeter
  • Discoloration of fruit: Very oxidising (browns quickly)
  • Cropping: Good
  • Fruit persistence: Normal ripening
  • Food uses: Eating fresh
  • Food uses: Culinary
  • Food uses: Juice
  • Food uses: Hard cider
  • Picking period: mid-October
  • Wildlife: RHS Plants for Pollinators


  • Gardening skill: Average
  • Flowering group: 4
  • Pollinating others: Poor
  • Ploidy: Triploid
  • Vigour: Vigorous
  • Bearing regularity: Regular
  • Fruit bearing: Partial tip-bearer
  • Self-fertility: Not self-fertile


  • Cold hardiness (USDA): (4) -30F / -34C
  • Climate suitability: Temperate climates
  • Summer average maximum temperatures: Cool ( 20-24C / 68-75F)
  • Summer average maximum temperatures: Warm (25-30C / 76-85F)

Other qualities

  • Disease resistance: Average
  • Scab (Apple and Pear): Very resistant
  • Fire blight: Very resistant
  • Cedar apple rust: Very resistant

Where to buy trees

The following tree nurseries offer Roxbury Russet apple trees for sale:

Where to buy fresh fruit

The following orchards grow Roxbury Russet:

United States



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