Does this apple pie taste like poison to you?
August 1, 2011 7:06 AM   Subscribe

Help me identify this apple (or apple-looking) tree - and tell me if it will kill me.

This apple tree (or what we think is an apple tree) is growing in my girlfriend's yard. Pics here - tree, zoomed in branch, and an apple in my hand for scale.

If it helps, the tree is in the South Downs in West Sussex in the UK.

Can anyone identify this kind of apple tree? It doesn't look like crabapples to my inexperienced eyes.

More importantly, can we eat it? Will it kill us, or make us ill?

Help us find out if our yard is even more edible than we thought!
posted by generichuman to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
Best answer: The fruits look very much like the ones in this picture, and the variety (Katy) is more fully described here.

Unless you have an allergy to apples (or molds that might grow on them), they're unlikely to be dangerous. I live in the southeastern US and we had an unidentified apple tree in our back yard as well. The fruits were small and not very sweet, but we managed to gather enough for the occasional recipe. The squirrels, birds, rabbits, yellowjackets, butterflies, and rats seemed to thoroughly enjoy the windfall, though. Never did figure out what type it varieties are legion.
posted by jquinby at 7:45 AM on August 1, 2011

Best answer: It is my understanding that apples are one of the most genetically diverse things out there. Every seed for every apple would produce a different type of apple. You cannot take a seed from a Red Delicious apple and have it grow into another Red Delicious apple tree. It would grow into an apple of a variety you've never seen before. It may be similar to that Red Delicious, but it may not.

When an apple tree is found that produces a fruit that people like, cuttings from that tree are grafted onto another apple tree and allowed to grow. It was this method which allowed people to produce lots of Red Delicious apple trees.

Apples are safe to eat. You may find the fruit to be tart or it may be sweet. It may be firm or mealy in texture. Hard to say until you try one. If that apple tree was in my yard, I'd harvest away and enjoy the apples at hand.
posted by onhazier at 7:59 AM on August 1, 2011 [3 favorites]

Look quite like crabapples to me.
posted by londongeezer at 8:12 AM on August 1, 2011

The fruit looks quite a bit like Kandil Sinap (more info here), but smaller. It's possible that the fruits are smaller because they haven't been thinned. Kandil Sinap apples are pretty tasty, and even if your tree isn't that and the fruit tastes not particularly good, you could still use them for cider.
posted by cog_nate at 8:13 AM on August 1, 2011

Best answer: It is my understanding that apples are one of the most genetically diverse things out there.

This is exactly right. Familiar apple varieties are grafted onto rootstock; the rootstock is chosen to determine things like the growing height, hardiness and disease resistance, the scion wood determines the fruit. A 'pippin' is an apple variety that was originally grown from seed, and selected for grafting because people liked the apples they produce. (We have a 30-footer in the back garden that's definitely a mongrel, and completely laden right now: the apples go from green to yellow-red to deep red over the late summer, gradually getting sweeter as they darken.)

Given the height of your tree, it's hard to tell whether it's just a young mongrel or something like a Katy on semi-dwarf rootstock. They're small because they haven't been thinned out, and they might not be ripe just yet, but there's no harm in tasting them until they are. (And stephenhayesuk's YouTube videos from his orchard in Hampshire might be worth a look if you're more interested.)
posted by holgate at 8:24 AM on August 1, 2011

Response by poster: Just tasted one thanks to this thread.

So far, not dead.

They were on the tart side, but not too bad! We'll let them ripen a bit and then turn them into jam or chutney or something equally fun.
posted by generichuman at 11:22 AM on August 1, 2011

Best answer: I'm in East Sussex. These are crab apples and won't hurt you in the least. Not the best tasting though. I make crab apple jelly from mine.

There has been a huge crop this year, the tree is practically groaning which surprises me as the plums & cherries are doing really badly.
posted by Wilder at 1:05 AM on August 2, 2011

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