Sunday, October 27, 2013

Hidden Rose (Airlie Red Flesh) **

This medium-sized apple (many quite small) is elongated and conical. The not-so hidden blush is a solid fuchsia-tinged red over yellow green, but there is also a thin peach-pink wash of blush, delicate and pretty, over much of the back and sides.

Small light lenticels stand out against every background. In the right light they almost seem to glow.

There's moderate ribbing, and a thick stem in a shallow stem well.

The apple is rock hard with a sugary sweet aroma. Its calyx is shut and an unusually thick stem emerges from a shallow stem well.

Oh, my, it's another pink-fleshed apple! So that's the hidden rose. I had no idea.

The hidden rose revealed
Well, there is nothing mushy or mealy about this apple.

Its fine-grained flesh, half pink, half creamy white, is crunchy crisp, dense, even hard.

Another sample is solid pink except for the seeded center.

Hidden Rose's flavors strike a good sweet-tart balance and last to the end of the chew.

Rose's tastes include an astringent, vinous note, some generic citrus, a hint of citrus peel, and something lush and sweet that is very like fruit punch. Nice!

The rose inside of Rose is stunning, but I would like this apple even with a more conventional appearance.

This is only my second pink-fleshed apple ever, just a few weeks after my encounter with Pink Pearl. What are the odds?

Other accounts of this apple online describe a "cotton candy" flavor. Fair enough, but I am sticking with fruit punch.

Hidden Rose was found in Airlie, Oregon, in the 1960s. Today this variety goes by multiple names, sometimes accompanied by extravagant claims. Several growers each boast of being the sole source of this fruit.

However it seems likely that Hidden Rose, Airlie Red Flesh (sometimes corrupted to Aerlie Red Flesh), and Mountain Rose are the same apple. According to Eric Schwartz of Thomas Paine Farm Hidden Rose is a trademark for Airlie, the actual variety name.

Eric writes to say that Airlie was first discovered by the Newell family but then lost. It was "rediscovered" by Louis Kimzey in the 1980s; Kimzey and Schwartz "planted the first orchard ever in 1992."

This was the "Newell-Kimzey" variety; the trademark "Hidden Rose" followed. More here.

Eric says there's nothing to the story that Airlie is a different red-fleshed variety also found in Airlie (something in the soil?).

Meanwhile, another red-fleshed apple from Oregon, Mountain Rose (not the regular-fleshed apple of the same name), looks a lot like Airlie.

Not much information about any of these varieties online, but Mountain Rose is associated with many conflicting stories, all romantic.

It's an "extremely rare and limited" Japanese heirloom! No, it's a "spontaneous hybrid of crabapple and golden delicious," a "rare heritage breed."

Maybe. Or, Occam's Razor, they are all the same apple marketed under different names.

It's interesting to watch several growers fight it out for brand ownership of a variety that is in the public domain. ("Hidden Rose" is a trademark, but the apple is not patented.)

But let's not lose sight of the fruit itself, which is crisp, balanced, tasty, unusual, and very good.

Thanks to Amy Traverso for sharing some of her research about this apple and its aliases. Any opinions, and errors, are entirely my own contribution.

Update: Thanks to Eric Schwartz for further untangling the story behind this variety's many names. I've revised this review accordingly.


  1. Some grower friends of mine were actually contacted by the guy who owns the Hidden Rose trademark and asked to pay up for using the name. I'm not sure what they did. The confusion of names is unfortunate, but then so is paying in perpetuity for using a name. Patents expire, but trademarks are forever as long as the owner enforces them. It would be nice if these apples had good un-trademarked names that growers who aren't trying to exploit them could use (presumably most of them) so we all know what we're talking about. I haven't tasted that fruit punch flavor in any but the red fleshed apples. Unfortunately, I haven't had the opportunity to try Hidden Rose yet. Too bad about that name though. It's a good name. Is Mountain Rose trademarked?

    1. Arlie (or Aerlie) Red Flesh is just not as good a name, is it? I do not think Mountain Rose is trademarked. Hidden Rose is.

      So you've got this older variety and no way to monopolize it the way UMinn controls Sweetango. If you invest in enough marketing, can you make it pay anyway?

      Could you do it with, say, a russet or other old apple?

  2. I picked up some of these in San Diego on Sunday. They are very much as you describe them--very like fruit punch!

    1. Just for my curiosity, what name were they sold under?

    2. Sold as Hidden Rose, from Dragonberry Farms in Oregon. I also picked up some Green Dragons, also from Dragonberry, which are interesting apples you should try if you can find them.

  3. Hello, I'm a french apple grower interested about Hidden rose apples. this year I've been able to find one and only one tree in France. I would find some more or buy branches to do grafts. Can I get any advises to make come from USA that variety?
    Thans for your help

    1. Bonjour, Julien, and have you been in touch with the trademark holder?

    2. I understand they were originally from France. Hidden Rose and Mountain Rose are one and the same, both made up in modern history names.

    3. Francois, the story of this apple's discovery in Oregon is pretty well established in the U.S. If the truth is otherwise I would love to correct the record.

      Can you provide any references that document the French connection?

    4. No it is just what I have heard from some people who grow them.

    5. In the 1950's, as a little girl my family lived on Story Road in Airlie. My father liked to walk toward the Newell's to show us and visitors the amazing apple with the red inside! I thought it was on our property, but I was a very little girl,not quite 6 when we moved away! My brothers and sisters always remember that apple,and I would wonder what it was!
      So happy it is still available! My older brother saw it described in a recent book on heirloom apples.

    6. @unknown little girl from Arlie: I think theses are enjoying renewed attention today. I say, come for the novelty of pink flesh, stay for the interesting flavors.

  4. Can't help but think Airlie Red Flesh will become the name this apple is known by as the owner of the trademark expires some day. Airlie is a little place. Looking for it on a Rand-McNally atlas it appears to be little more than a rural post office about 20 miles NNW of Corvallis, Oregon. Distinctive name and apple. I will try grafting it here at home and see how it does with near-desert conditions and 2100 chill hours (degrees between 32 and 46 F.)
    Two other red-fleshed apples do well here: Redfield and Winekist. Redfield bloom is stunning and Winekist fruit is beet red inside. Neither keep more than a few weeks, so Airlie's keeping quality is welcome.

    1. Trademarks can be renewed perpetually, which I am guessing is the plan. Arlie is for sale (though not widely) under both names. Will a Pink Lady (Cripps Pink) situation develop?

  5. A few hours ago I was looking at a book at a friend's house, and saw the entry on the Hidden Rose ("Aerlie Red Flesh") discovered on property owned by Lucky and Audrey Newell in Airlie, Oregon. I was floored, and immediately contacted my siblings and parents---we lived next door to the Newells, 1956-1961. My sister Dorothy just now emailed me that she remembers they had a tree with red-fleshed apples behind their barn. We moved away when I was 9, and their house burned down some time later.

    1. --Al Stoops, now of Nelson, NH.

    2. Hey Al, I am really glad you stopped by with that story!

      This is a really interesting variety, and quite tasty.

  6. I just bought one of these from Samascott Orchards (at an NYC greenmarket). They were selling them as Pink-a-boo, but did say they were AKA Airlie Red Flesh in the description. I really enjoyed it.


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