Saturday, November 14, 2015

D'Arcy Spice **

The appearance of this apple varies so much that I need two to show what they might look like.

Unrusseted, D'Arcy has a thin orange blush over green yellow, with some saturated red spots and splotches. There are faint stellations of tan lenticels. The peel is a little waxy.

The russet is a suede leather kissed with green, though over the blush it is thinner, patchier, more golden, and delicately patterned like the rind of a cantaloupe.

Click on either image for a closer look.

These run medium to large. Both are squat and ribbed. The stem is short and thick and the calyx is open nearly all the way.

D'Arcy has a very good breaking crunch that's also pleasantly chewy, a little dense without being hard. Its fine-grained off-white flesh is only moderately juicy but the apple bursts with flavor and serves up a healthy portion of tart with a good deal of sugar.

True to its name, D'Arcy is a spicy apple: some ginger and a suggestion of the pastry spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg. There are also some very pleasant floral notes and a whisper of vanilla and pear. A little lemon juice too.

Russeted or not, D'Arcy has a russet's flavor profile, though the pear and the vanilla are not prominent. A superior russet's flavor profile, I should say.

These flavors are saturated and quite satisfying, and the texture is very good. D’Arcy is not for the pomologically timid, but might be a revelation to anyone who has never ventured beyond Delicious and Honeycrisp.

I frankly didn’t know what to make of this apple’s name. Is D’Arcy Spice a modern variety masquerading as an antique? It sounds like a character from a Harlequin Romance novel.

Maybe so, but D’Arcy came by its name honestly, a spicy apple that originated in or near the village of Tollishant Tolleshunt D’Arcy in England in the 19th century. Though according to some the apple is a little older and originally called the Baddow Pippin.


  1. I was very curious about this apple, and glad that you could find one to try! I have searched for scionwood for this variety but a lot of places said, last year, "none available this year." Apparently it is a real slow grower.

    1. Mike, Hi! I’ve been pretty lucky this fall, finding or getting new varieties to try. (New to me, that is.)

      I hope some come your way sometimes, they are worth looking for.

  2. Rowan Jacobsen waxed rhapsodic about this apple in "Apples of Uncommon Character," placing a photo of it on the cover, no less. I have it planted in the yard and hope to try it for the first time in '16. A slow growing tree, it bloomed top center - kinda odd - this year but did not get enough pollen to set seed. Sigh. Maybe next season, as more later blooming varieties gain maturity.
    BTW, I have read Bultitude and others who state D'Arcy dates to 1785.

  3. This year D'Arcy dropped all fruit by the second day of a heat wave in June - which is when they dropped last year, as I learned when checking the old calendar. It is reputed to crop lightly, but I lose hope it will ever produce here in arid Spokane, WA. Looks like I will have to travel far - at least east of the Rockies - to get a taste of it.

    1. I have a D'Arcy Spice growing in poor gravelly soil in Howe Sound BC, and it gets very little water, as I have no irrigation. It grows very slowly, but has produced a couple of apples in each of its 2 years. It is a wonderful firm, crisp, flavourful apple, even picked early, and I recommend you don't give up on it yet. It seems a tough little tree to me.

    2. Maybe I won't have to go so far to taste one, after all! D'Arcy's reputation for tastiness kept me hoping it would come through, but the percentage of English apples that can handle 95+F and 15% humidity is not good. Lord Lambourne cracks horribly; too bad, because I love that apple. Someone grows Claygate Pearmain in Reno, Nevada and loves it. Will try that. Lamb Abbey Pearmain was once grown in WA and I hope to get it re-started in this region. Too many cultivars holding promise for me to cling longer to D'Arcy. Hope you enjoy it many years!

  4. Minor point from the text - spelling of the village name is Tolleshunt rather than Tollishant.


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