Sunday, October 25, 2009

Gray Apple Riddle

A reader asks whether another name for Pomme Gris is "Grey Pearmain."

My answer follows, but if you know better, drop us a line in the comments.

I am not familiar with Grey Pearmain, and in any case people call their apples all different things, not always correctly. But on balance it does not seem likely that these are the same.

True, Google finds several references for "Grey Pearmain" suggesting it may be the same apple as Pomme Gris (Grise). On closer inspection these all turn out to be the same reference, an email or chat-board message from Claude in Quebec:

Could this Grey Pearmain be the Pomme grise? Among its synonyms, there is Gray Apple and Reinette grise. Sometimes, the Reinettes' names are translated as Pearmains in English. The description you give could fit for Pomme grise.

On the other hand, googling "Gray Pearmain", with an a, finds many more references, suggesting that "gray" is the correct spelling.

Among those references, this striking photograph of three Gray Pearmain apples does not resemble Pomme Gris--there's very little russet, though that is not conclusive.

However, one nursery sells scionwood for both varieties, which barring outright error suggests that Pomme Gris cannot be the same as Gray Pearmain.

Still, errors are possible. One orchard suggests that Gray Pearmain may be Reinette Grise De La Creuse, which dates from about 1950 according to the UK National Fruit Collection. However, the Gray Pearmain was known in Maine at least as early as 1885.

Update: The true Gray Pearmain is here.


  1. Hello, I am "Claude in Quebec" who wrote this note in the NAFEX email list 10 years ago. Yes, this was pure speculation on my part from a very short description of Grey Pearmain that could have fitted with the Pomme grise. However, after seeing Russel French's photos of Grey Pearmain, I can assure you they are very different from the Pomme grise...

    I got here by chance - this is a fun blog

    All the best,
    Claude in Quebec.

  2. Bienvenue, Claude! It really is a small world, at least online.

    Russell French's photos are really marvelous, aren't they? You have to click on a link below the photograph to see what the apples are.

  3. Yes, Russel's pictures are nice, but I have some that are not bad either...
    We are currently building a "Fruit Wiki" on Michael Phillips' Grow Organic Apples Network forum. This should be of interest to you. There are quite a few of my pictures there. Have a look...
    How come I can't do a paste on this??? I had to rewrite the URL - hope I didn't do a mistake...

    And if you want to see pictures of my orchard, see


  4. Here are hot links for Claude's very interesting Fruit Wiki and photo album.

    (Blogger does not make it easy to put links in comments.)

    Thanks, Claude!


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