Glossary of Terms

Glossary of terms that may be encountered in the Apple Index's descriptions of apple varieties:

Size Descriptors

Apples come in a wide variety of sizes:

Very Small below 35 mm
Small 35-50 mm
Below Medium 50-60 mm
Medium 60-70 mm
Above Medium 70-80 mm
Large 80-95 mm
Very Large 95-110 mm
Extremely Large over 110 mm

Uniformity indicates whether the apple sizes within the variety are uniform or variable.

Color Descriptors

In apples, a distinction is made between the apple's ground color and its over-color.  Undercolors are typically a shade of green, yellow, or nearly white.


Apple overcolors are typically a shade of red, ranging from pink to scarlet to crimson.


This describes how the overcolor is distributed over the base color. Descriptors include:

  • Blushed
  • Streaked
  • Mottled
  • Striped
  • Splashed

Russet is a brown scarring sometimes seen on the apple's skin. It is typically a genetic trait in certain varieties.  Russet is described by how widespread it is on the skin:

  • Dense
  • Irregular
  • Thin
  • Scattered

Bloom is a whitish overcolor on the surface of the apple. It is described by amount (much, medium, or little) and kind (waxy, greasy). Amount is determined by scraping the bloom off with a sharp knife.

Skin Descriptors


Skin is described as thick, medium, or thin.


Skin texture is described as tough, medium, or tender.


Apple skin can have a wide variety of textures.  These are commonly described as:

  • Smooth
  • Shining
  • Rough
  • Dull
  • Lumpy

Dots are extremely common on apple skins, and can be helpful in describing the apple appearance. First, dots are described by how obvious they are on the skin:

  • Conspicuous
  • Obscure
  • Inconspicuous
     By quantity:
  • Many
  • Medium
  • Few
      By size:
  • Minute
  • Small
  • Medium
  • Large
     By form or shape:
  • Round
  • Stellate
  • Angular
  • Areolar
     By color:
  • White
  • Gray
  • Brown
     By distribution:
  • Uniform
  • Not Uniform
    and by prominence:
  • Sunken
  • Even
  • Raised
  • Submerged

The flesh of the apple is described by:

  • White
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Fine 
  • Medium
  • Coarse
  • Buttery
  • Melting
  • Firm
  • Breaking
  • Crisp
   and by Juiciness:
  • Little
  • Medium
  • Much


Descriptions for apple flavor are determined by the ratio of sugars to acid.

  • Acid (tends to be a tart or bitter apple)
  • Sub-Acid (not a tart apple)
  • Sweet (a very sweet apple with little to no tartness to cut it)
Additional definitions and clarifications:

Family Apple - A unique apple passed down within a single family like a family heirloom

Local Apple - An apple variety that was shared through a community

Historical Apple - Any apple for which there is a written record

Synonyms - many of the varieties listed in the index has a name followed by a list of additional names in parentheses. These are other names by which this variety has been known.

Ripening times - The ripening times listed are when the apples will ripen in central North Carolina and north central South Carolina (both Zone 7B)