Apple Index - "Bald Mountain" to "Black Jack"

Bald Mountain

Description: Fruit medium or above, roundish, flattened on the ends, slightly conical; skin light green with bright red broken stripes on the sunny side; dots large, scattered, irregular, white and russet.  Flesh greenish or yellowish white, fine-grained, juicy, mild subacid. Ripe winter in the mountains, October in warmer areas.

History: The 1903 meeting of the Georgia State Horticultural Society discussed promising apples for the state.  A Col. Wade said, “I would like to add to the list the Bald Mountain apple. It originated in North Carolina and they have been bringing them down through Rabun and Habersham counties for the last eight years. It ripens late and is a good keeper.”    

This brief and obscure discussion is the only written record of the Bald Mountain apple. In March 1989, however, Lee Calhoun received a letter from Charles W. Nolen of Franklin, North Carolina, telling him that he had Bald Mountain as well as several other rare old apples in his orchard. Mr. Nolen said that Bald Mountain originated as a seedling on Warrior Bald Mountain in Macon County about a hundred years ago. George Crawford, one of the first settlers in that area, found the tree already growing there.

Ball's Choice (Harwell, Harwell's Mammoth)

Description: Fruit medium, roundish to slightly oblate, irregular, sides often unequal; skin partly to mostly covered with pale red and dull red stripes; dots mostly large by variable in size, numerous, gray. Flesh greenish yellow, fine-grained, juicy, crisp, subacid. Ripe September/October.

History: In 1893, Jason E. Abernathy of Buford, Giles County, Tennessee, wrote to the USDA: “This is an apple there has been a good deal of discussion about. The party propagating it claims it as a seedling of Giles County. Others say it is the old Rhode Island Greening; by some said to be Newtown Pippin. Mr. Ball of this county is propagating it. He calls it Ball’s Choice.”

Ball’s Choice was sold from 1910 to 1923 by Tennessee nurseries, one saying in its catalog: “said to have originated in Giles County, Tennessee, before 1860. The original tree was of immense size and a heavy annual bearer of long keeping fruit.”

Balsam

Description: Fruit medium size, round; skin smooth, almost covered with dark, plum red with broken darker stripes. A heavy white bloom is present; dots numerous, rather large, whitish, russet, and gray. Flesh pale greenish, crisp, moderately juicy, mild subacid. Ripe September/October.

History: A single old tree was found in 1999 in Ashe County, North Carolina, by Dan Moncol.

Bank's Gravenstein (Gravenstein, Banks Red Gravenstein, Early Congress)

Description: Fruit large, usually roundish oblate but sometimes oblong, conical, often lopsided; skin thin, slightly rough, greenish yellow overlaid with broken stripes and splashes of light and dark red and orange; dots few, small, gray. Flesh yellow with yellow veinings, tender, crisp, juicy, aromatic, sprightly subacid. Ripe July.

History: This foreign apple variety is listed in no less than seventy-nine old southern nursery catalogs and was reported in 1877 as growing well as far south as Mississippi. Gravenstein was introduced into the United States by several different people beginning perhaps about 1790.   Gravenstein actually got its name from being grown in the Duke of Augustinberg’s garden at Gravensteing, or Graasten, in Holstein (off and on a part of Germany but now part of Denmark). One story is that it originated from seeds or scions brought from Italy about 1669.

The apple is an all-purpose fruit that is good for fresh eating, cider, drying, and especially for cooking.  One old reference says, “We find all other apples rejected from the kitchen as soon as the Gravenstein is introduced.”

Bart

Description: Fruit small, roundish; skin mostly covered with a medium red and some red stripes; dots numerous, whitish. Ripe August.

History: An old variety from the War Woman area of Rabun County, Georgia, found by Tom Brown. An apple called “Old Bart” is grown near Jamestown, Tennessee, on older farms where it is used for drying and cooking.

Beauty of the World (Morganton)

Description: Fruit medium to large, oblate (also described as roundish oblong); skin almost covered with pale red, thickly striped and mottled with crimson, purplish crimson on the sunny side; dots few, yellowish. Flesh white, almost fine-grained, firm, subacid. Ripe November and keeps well.

History: A seedling tree found by John Mace of Morganton, North Carolina, in an old field at the foot of South Mountain. Sold by a North Carolina nursery from 1900 to 1910. Tree vigorous, bearing moderate crops annually.

Beckham's Seedling

Description: Fruit large, oblate, somewhat irregular in shape; skin almost covered in dark purplish red without stripes and with a heavy bloom; dots large, scattered, tannish russet. Flesh cream colored, crisp, juicy, slightly tough, subacid. Ripe August/September.

History: In the 1930s a seedling tree grew up beside a road on the farm of Paul Beckham in Warren County, North Carolina. This is a beautiful apple.

Beecher (Beacher)

Description: Fruit almost large, very oblate; skin thick, tough, smooth, almost entirely covered with dark red or mahogany; dots numerous, conspicuous, white or gray, often with a red areole. Flesh greenish, crisp, moderately juicy, subacid. Ripe late July/August.

History: This is an old apple variety still grown in Macon and Jackson Counties, North Carolina. It is one of nine or ten rare old varieties which Charles W. Nolen preserved in his orchard near Franklin.

Beitigheimer (Red Bietigheimer, Bietigheimer, Bodenheimer)

Description: Fruit large to very large, roundish to roundish oblate, slightly conical, lobed; skin thick, tough, smooth, mostly covered with light and dark red with some obscure stripes; dots numerous, prominent, grayish or light-colored. Flesh white, firm, coarse, not very juicy, somewhat tough, briskly subacid. Ripe August/September.

History: This old German apple was brought to this country before 1880. In Europe, Red Bietigheimer was first described in 1598, where it was known by the name Roter Stettiner. The fruit is notable mostly for its large size and lovely color as its coarse, rather tough flesh makes it mainly a cooking apple. Because of their large size, the apples tend to drop badly before ripening.

Ben Davis (New York Pippin, Kentucky Red Streak, Kentucky Streak, Kentucky Pippin, Victoria Pippin, Victoria Red, Baltimore Red Streak, Carolina Red Streak, Funkhouser, Virginia Pippin, Hutchinson Pippin, Joe Allen, Red Pippin, Illinois Red, Thornton)

Description: Fruit above medium, roundish oblong, conical, sometimes somewhat elliptical, or irregular; skin tough, waxy, bright, smooth, clear yellow mostly mottled and washed with bright red and striped with a darker red. Flesh white, firm, moderately coarse, not very crisp, juicy, mild subacid. Ripe October and a good keeper with flavor improving in storage.

History: If Red Delicious is the apple success story of the twentieth century, then Ben Davis is the apple success story of the nineteenth century. No one at any time (except in a salesman’s pitch) ever said a nice word about the eating quality of Ben Davis. “Second rate” is the phrase most often used. “Rather coarse and tough, not overly juicy, with an almost total absence of flavor” is how one man described Ben Davis in 1923.  Ben Davis was a grower’s and shipper’s dream apple, and it was a great keeping apple in a day when refrigeration was either unknown or a rarity.

The most widely accepted history of Ben Davis is this: In 1799, William Davis and John D. Hill moved from Virginia to settle at Berry’s Lick in what is now Butler County, Kentucky, near Captain Ben Davis. A few years later Hill went back to Virginia (or perhaps to North Carolina) on business. When he returned to Kentucky, he brought back some young apple trees. Captain Ben Davis ended up with an apple tree from what Hill brought back and soon planted a small orchard from root sprouts from this original tree.  For twenty-five years root sprouts were used to spread this apple (now called Ben Davis) throughout Kentucky and Tennessee.

Ben Lomand Limbertwig

Description: A large apple, round but not flat. Good unusual color of red and green. This is a good all purpose variety. Juicy, firm, aromatic. Good for eating fresh. This variety was grown in the Smokey Mountains but was called another name. Rediscovered by R. J. Howard on the Ben Lomand Mountain in Middle Tennessee.

History: Limbertwig is not a single apple variety but rather a very large family of apples. It is difficult to say what exactly holds this family together—what trait the various kinds of Limbertwigs have in common. One might suppose that a drooping growth habit would be present in all Limbertwigs and, in fact, most kinds of Limbertwigs do have drooping branches.  Mr. Henry Morton of Tennessee said, “Limbertwigs vary in size, shape, color, quality, and tree habit, but they all have one distinguishing characteristic and that is their distinct Limbertwig flavor.

Benham (Claiborne, Benum, Brown, Yearry, Nat Ewing)

Description: Fruit medium or above, roundish to slightly oblate, conical, often ribbed; skin very thin, greenish yellow sometimes with a slight blush on the sunny side, rarely striped with red; dots numerous, russet.  Flesh slightly yellowish, juicy, fine-textured, subacid. Ripe July-August.

History: Benham was sold by Virginia nurseries from 1887 to 1904 and was grown at the turn of the century in Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee, where the apples were used for fresh eating, cooking and drying.  Ragan (1905) guesses that it originated in Tennessee, and it is still fairly common there in Claiborne County. 

Betsy Deaton

Description: Fruit medium, roundish conical; skin smooth, almost covered with medium to dark red; dots scattered, medium size. Flesh pale greenish, often stained red under the skin, moderately juicy and crisp, subacid. Ripe September/October.

History: Grown at one time in Yancey County, North Carolina, and listed as extinct in the first version of Lee Calhoun’s book. A tree was found by Danny Harvey in 1996 in Ashe County, North Carolina.

Bevan's Favorite (Early Bevan, Lucindy, Striped June, Bivins)

Description: Fruit medium, roundish oblate, slightly conical; skin light greenish yellow with bright red, broken stripes on the sunny side. Flesh yellowish, juicy, crisp, fine-grained, subacid. Ripe early July.

History: Bevan’s Favorite originated before 1842 in Salem, New Jersey, and was listed in the catalogs of three North Carolina nurseries from 1855 to 1895. Lindley’s Nursery, a small, local nursery in Chatham County, North Carolina, continued to sell Bevan’s Favorite through their traveling salesmen or agents until as late as 1930.

Big Stem

Description: Fruit above medium, roundish; skin yellow with tan russet spreading over the top of the apple; dots large, often irregular, tan russet. Ripe late July.

History: The apple hunter, the late Dr. L. R. Littleton, found this apple in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, being grown by Loy Nottingham.

Black Amish

Description: Fruit large to very large, oblate conical, sometimes slightly lobed; skin tough, light yellow mostly overlaid with light red with darker red stripes, much darker red on the sunny side; dots rather numerous, large, rough, light colored.  Flesh yellowish, fine-grained, crisp, moderately juicy, sprightly subacid. Ripe September in central North Carolina, October in Kentucky.

History: Black Amish is an old, all-purpose apple, perhaps of Pennsylvania origin, not mentioned in any old catalogs or pomological literature. It resembles Hoover in appearance and quality and may be identical to it. The apples hang well on the tree which is a heavy, annual bearer.

Black Beauty

Description: Small to medium sized. Roundish to roundish conical. Skin yellow completely covered with dark red stripes. Lenticels white, raised. Ripe September. Pure sweet with no hint of tartness. Not a lot of flavor.

History: Listed in a 1919/1920 catalog for Sunny Slope Nursery, Hannibal, Missouri.  Applesource.com lists Yadkin County as a source.  Rediscovered by Tom Brown in Wilkes County, North Carolina.

 

Black Ben Davis (Gano, Payton, Red Ben Davis, Jacks' Red, Reagan's Red, Peyton, Chesney, Mesa Red, Ozark)

Description: Fruit medium to large, roundish to slightly oblong, slightly conical; skin smooth, mostly covered with dark solid crimson; dots numerous (also said to be few), small, yellow or gray. Flesh white, firm, moderately juicy, mild subacid. Ripe September/October.

History: The earliest years of Black Ben Davis are confusing. The original tree was apparently first planted or grown by a man named Parson Black who homesteaded in Arkansas in 1869. How or where he got the original tree was unknown, even in 1900, but his name was attached to the new variety.

Black Jack

Description: Fruit medium size, roundish conical to slightly oblong, but irregular-shaped and often oblique; skin greenish usually with a pale red-blushed cheek; dots large, russet with an areole. Flesh whitish, moderately crisp and juicy, fine-grained, subacid. Ripe October.

History: Found by Tom Brown near Roan Mountain, Tennessee. This name is a synonym of the Greyhouse apple, now considered extinct, but Black Jack in some ways matches the abbreviated descriptions of Greyhouse and may have been identical to it.

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