Heritage Apple

Malus domestica

Heritage Apple Tree

Apple trees were a key food source for pioneer families, with small orchards found on many farms. Apple trees have been cultivated for thousands of years. First brought to North America by the Pilgrims in 1620, by the mid-1600s there were seedling orchards in North Carolina. The fruit was eaten fresh, baked, stewed, and fried. Importantly, apples could be preserved for consumption over the winter by drying and making into jelly and apple butter. Pioneers also enjoyed apples in liquid form as cider, vinegar, and brandy. Apples were a trade item with Native Americans, and the Cherokee made tea and yellow dye from apple bark. Humans are not the only animals who enjoy apples, as wildlife are quick to dine on apples left after the harvest.

The Walk of History has two varieties of cultivated apples passed down through generations. Farms would typically have multiple types of apples, as they vary in taste and when they are ready for harvest.

The Arkansas Black apple originated in the mid-1800s in Benton County, Arkansas, and is known for its particularly dark red or burgundy skin. Arkansas black apples are tart and very firm-fleshed, and they ripen in late fall and can be stored for up to six months, which made them an excellent choice for food over the winter.

The Grimes Golden apple originated in 1832 in what is now West Virginia. It is considered to be an ancestor of the widely-known Golden Delicious apple. Crisp and sweet, Grimes Golden is a self-pollinating apple that was an important commercial crop until the 1930s, when it was eclipsed by the more productive Golden Delicious.

Sponsor: Transylvania Heritage Coalition, Inc., DBA Transylvania Heritage Museum (Grimes Golden Apple)

Sponsor: Transylvania Historical Society (Arkansas Black Apple)

Photo credits:

  • Heritage apple tree, Kor!An, CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Blossom and leaves, Von.grzanka, CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Bark, lferguson, CC BY-NC 4.0
  • Arkansas Black apple, public domain
  • Grimes Golden apple, public domain