New England’s First Cultivated Apple Variety?

When Puritans landed at present-day Charlestown in Massachusetts Bay they discovered they already had an English neighbor across the Charles River, living on the spit of land which would become Boston. William Blaxton (aka Blackstone) had established himself on Beacon Hill several years before. Blackstone invited the newcomers over across to his side, where he had established a farm and an apple orchard. It was a decision he seems to have eventually regretted, as he soon grew tired of Puritan intolerance, and moved to Rhode Island. The apples Blaxton grew on Beacon Hill were called Yellow Sweeting, and later, after his relocation, became widely known as the Rhode Island Greening. I will step out on an apple-tree limb and declare them to be the oldest apple cultivar to be planted in New England. Please feel free to dissent, and share any information you may have about varieties with a stronger claim to that title. Learn more about the Rhode Island Greening and other varieties on the Orange Pippin blog.  Adam’s Apples also has a nice review of the Greening.  Learn more about how people used it in the past at Susan McLellan Plaisted‘s wonderful Bites of Food History blog.

4 thoughts on “New England’s First Cultivated Apple Variety?

  1. I always thought the Roxbury Russet held that title (and that was one of the reasons I planted it in my own backyard) but the Greening appears to have the better claim. No loss, though, I’m really pleased with the Roxbury.


    • It is possible that the Roxbury Russet can make that claim, if in fact the Yellow Sweeting/Rhode Island Greening grown by Blaxton was an English cultivar he brought over and it simply gained a new name. More research on Blaxton/Blackstone is on my to do list.


  2. Thank you for your kind words about my blog Bites of Food History. I please must ask for a correction of my name. It is Susan McLellan Plaisted. The Rhode Island Greening is a great apple.


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