The Ontario Heritage and Feral Apple Project  

Plant Population & Evolution Research Lab

Test my tree!

Unfortunately, we are not continuing our testing program at this time.

Still need an apple tree tested? Consider My Fruit Tree.

Why does this matter?

Named apple cultivars, like 'Northern Spy' or 'Mcintosh', are propagated by cloning: branches or buds from existing trees are grafted onto rootstocks or branches of other apple trees. This means that all individuals of a given cultivar are genetically identical (more or less), which is what allows us to identify them.

On the other hand, apple seeds are usually NOT genetically identical to either of their parents, and are normally a cross between two different trees. Trees that grow from a seed are traditionally called "pippins", and each one is genetically unique. If your tree came up from such a seed, rather than being grafted, we won't be able to identify it for you, although we might be able to identify possible parents for it.

How can I tell?

Clues that your tree is a named cultivar include it's location (e.g. planted in rows in an old orchard) or some knowledge of the tree's history that suggests it was intentionally cultivated. You may also be able to detect a graft point low on the tree's trunk, although this is can be difficult to see in older trees. Cultivar trees will usually have a large, central trunk with either no secondary stems starting at ground level or only relatively small ones (probably from rootstock). Multi-stemmed trees are usually pippins.

Please see the Cultivars and Ferals page for details about these distinctions, and about the limits of what our testing can tell you.

Confirming that your tree is a cultivar

Graft point on young tree

Graft point on old tree