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Welsh Apples

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Title: Welsh Apples  
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Subject: Wales, Bardsey Island, List of apple cultivars
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Welsh Apples

The Cambrian Journal (Vol. 111, 1858) contains a list of names for about 200 Welsh Apples,[1] the majority of which were from the Monmouth area. Presumably, the number of Welsh apples nationally was considerably larger than it is today, and almost all of these apple varieties appear to have been lost. Not only a loss to Welsh culture, and one to apple diversity in general, it is also a loss to apple-growing since these varieties, thriving in the cool damp conditions of Wales, would probably have been suitable for commercially producing future cultivars in locations with a similar climate.

In 1999 a single lone apple tree was identified by Ian Sturrock on Bardsey Island (located at the end of the Llŷn Peninsula in North Wales). Its uniqueness and the rugged location was seized upon by the media and it was described as "The rarest tree in the world".[2] This media coverage seems to have sparked a resurgence in Welsh apple varieties. The gnarled and twisted tree, growing by the side of Plas Bach, is believed to be the only survivor of an orchard that was tended by the monks who lived there a thousand years ago.[3][4][5] In 1998, experts on the varieties of British apples at the National Fruit Collection in Brogdale stated that they believed this tree was the only example of a previously unrecorded cultivar, the Bardsey Apple (Welsh: Afal Enlli). The cultivar has since been propagated by grafting and is available commercially.[6]

The National Botanic Garden of Wales at Llanarthney, Carmarthenshire is now planting a Welsh Apple variety collection and hoping to publish a Welsh Pomona in the coming years, with over 50 varieties with Welsh or possible Welsh connections,[7] for example Foreman's Crew (1826 from Merthyr Tydfil).[8]

Several dozen cultivars are now available commercially. There is now a thriving Welsh Perry and Cider Society[9] and several commercial orchards growing Welsh varieties, as well as school and community groups with small orchards.

Lost varieties

The list given in the 1858 Cambrian Journal includes the following varieties:

  • Afal basst
  • Afal Gwdyr
  • Afal Illtud
  • Afal Madog
  • Blas Y Cwrw
  • Cydodyn
  • Pippin Bach Llydan
  • Pippin Dulas
  • Rhobin

There is no further record of any of these cultivars in later documents.

List of current varieties

Common Name Origin First Developed Comment Use
Trwyn Mochyn Anglesey 1600s Also called Anglesey Pig Snout Cooker
Croen Mochyn Anglesey 1850 Pig Skin Apple Eating
Cox Cymraeg Goetre Bach unknown Cox like flavor Eating
Pig Aderyn St. Dogmaels Norman era Green and scarlet stripes (literally "Bird's Beak") Eating and Cider
Diamond Apple Dyffryn Ardudwy 1825 Shipwreck origin from The Diamond. Eater
St. Cecilia Bassaleg 1900 Cox-like flavor, very late season Eater
Afal Nant Gwrtheyrn Llyn Peninsula unknown Fennel-like flavor (literally "Nant Gwrtheyrn Apple") Eater
Bardsey Apple [1] Bardsey Island Discovered 1999 Particularly disease resistant Eater
Pig Y Golomen Pembroke Pre 1900 Characteristic shape (literally "Pigeon's Bill" - had an excrescence at the stalk) Cooker
Gwell Na Mil Monmouth 17th-century Nutty and aromatic flavour (literally "Better than a thousand") Triple purpose
Machen Caerphilly 19th century Very large Cooker and eater
Marged Nicolas Dinefwr 19th-century Large yellow russet Eater and cider
Brith Mawr Newport unknown Striped yellow and red[10] Triple purpose
Baker's Delicious South Wales 1920 Original Welsh name lost Eater
Cadwalader Brecon unknown Bittersweet Cider
Channel Beauty Swansea 1920 Cox-like Eater
Afal Siampen Bont-newydd unknown Origins of name unknown Eater
Morgan Sweet South Wales 18th-century Taken down the pit by coal-miners Eater and Cider
Llwyd Hanner Goch South Wales 16th-century A very late season russet (literally "Grey Half Red") Eater[11]
Monmouth Beauty Malpas 1750 Originally called cissy Eater
Rhyl Beauty Rhyl 1920 Originally called "Kenneth" Eater
Tin Yr Gwydd Dyfed 19th-century Welsh for "Goose's Arse", apparently named after the shape Cooker
Perthyre Monmouth pre-1910 When cooked has a pear-like flavour Cider and cooking


  1. ^ "Welsh Names of Apples", The Cambrian Journal, Volume 111, 1858, p.145
  2. ^ The Guardian Weekend, 6 October 2007, p.88
  3. ^ Smith, Malcolm (22 March 2003). "The Sainted Apple". The Times. p. 12. Retrieved 16 February 2014. 
  4. ^ Tunstall, Jill (6 October 2007). "The man who rescues trees". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 February 2014. 
  5. ^ "Afan Ynys Enlli - Bardsey Island Apple". Retrieved 16 February 2014. 
  6. ^ "Bardsey Island Apple". Ian Sturrock & Sons. 
  7. ^ "National Apple Register of the United Kingdom" Muriel Smith, Langford Press, Scotland 1971
  8. ^ Hogg, Robert (1884), The Fruit Manual
  9. ^ "Welsh Perry and Cider Society - Home". Retrieved 31 October 2015. 
  10. ^ "Welsh Marches Pomona" Michael Porter, MMX Publishers, 2010
  11. ^ ">Llwyd Hanner Goch Apple Fruit Tree Welsh Fruit Trees". Retrieved 31 October 2015. 
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