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Mother (American Mother) *

Courtesy of a generous apple enthusiast, I have 2 medium-sized irregularly shaped apples that sport a streaky red blush over greenish yellow.

That makes for a lot of orange where the yellow bleeds through the thinnest part of the blush. That spot is also where the brown lenticels are the most prominent.
Mother's peel sports more satin than shine.

It's hard to say what shape these would be if pristine, but there seems to be a small amount of ribbing. The apple in my photo is the more elongated of the two.

Besides the odd bumps and indentations, and a few hard little scabby lumps, these apples show some signs of bugs. Have no fear, gentle reader: no extra protein in this review.

Despite all that these have been through on and off the tree, the apples feel firm and have a wonderful sweet aroma. The calyx of each is closed.

Inside, medium-coarse-grained flesh, light yellow, is moderately crisp but heading towards granularity Probably these samples are past their prime.

Still their flavor is very good, though the chew starts with an earthy mineral note that might be off-putting to some.

In the transition from that to the sweeter lighter flavors lives, in my better sample, a flash of something nutty followed by a quick hit of melon.

These in turn give way to some rich cidery flavors with faint floral and spice notes and a lovely sweet finish that is like vanilla, yet not vanilla.

People say of this apple that it has an indescribable flavor. I wonder if that is it.

The foregoing describes a sort of idealized bite of this apple. I did find all of these many interesting flavors, but not consistently. My samples did not have great texture either. I chalk this up to conditions and timing, at least in part.

Despite that, Mother reminds me of another fine heritage variety, Esopus Spitzenberg.

A Mother swaddled for transport

I'm grateful to John Henderson of Sage Hen Farm for mailing me these two Mothers, exceptionally well packed. I hope I have done them justice.

John has his own apple web site, or perhaps I should say sites, that I reviewed in 2010.

Mother, also known as American Mother and Bolton Mother, originated 200 years ago in the Town of Bolton, Massachusetts.

The Bolton Historical Society has some information about Mother on this page. According to Vintage Virginia Apples she is also called Gardener's Apple, Queen Anne, and Mother of America.

Of these apples John told me, "Last year I picked them on September 12, but this year it was September 28 before they seemed ready enough to pick." I should like to try Mother again.

P.S. It appears that Apples of New York (1905) thought of the Esopus comparison first:


  1. Mother, is an odd apple. It varies tremendously from year to year. I have been growing it for some time and it ranges from being an okay apple to one of the best apples you will ever eat. When it is at its best it is an amazing apple, with an aromatic complexity that is hard to describe. I wait anxiously each year when Mother ripens, never knowing how it will be. It is one of those apples, when it is right, that you want to share with your friends, so they can taste its splendor and in other years be embarrassed to offer it up.

    Clearly if I had but a couple of apple trees, Mother would not be one of them, because it is too variable in quality and taste from year to year. One the other hand I would highly recommend growing mother jf you have several trees. I also would highly recommend growing in as a single branch graft on another tree. Even if but grafted at the tip. The flavor is well worth seeking, and as a tip graft or as a branch you will get just a few fruits, and can claim the reward for when it is right and mitigate your disappointment in those off years. One bonus is it is an easily managed apple, displaying a level of innate disease resistance. Another bonus is it is partially self-fertile, which means it is very useful as a pollinator for triploids (thus allowing you to pollinate the triploid variety and itself), just be mindful to match the bloom season. In the end, the best approach to mother is to think of is as wine grape. Each year varies tremendously, one vintage is rated higher than others. It is analogous to Mother.

    Mother is definitely a connoisseurs apple. I say enjoy.

    the fluffy bunny

    1. Mother seems to enjoy a cult following. Probably its highly variable qualities plan a role in that if falls to the cognoscenti to tell the world the truth about this apple.

      I think I have yet to experience peak Mother. However I did have a few very good ones this fall courtesy of a reader, so frim my point of view the chapter on this variety is still unfinished.

      Thank you also for your comments on growing Mother.


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