5 Types Of Pioneer Stock Apples Once Thought To Be Extinct Rediscovered In Northern Idaho and Washington

This is actually pretty cool. After reading the article, the guy thinks he may have discovered even more strains too and is actively searching for more yet.


5 types of apples, once thought extinct, are rediscovered

Posted: Mar 05, 2018 4:26 PM PSTUpdated: Mar 05, 2018 11:35 PM PST


LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) – Five types of apples, once thought to be extinct, have been rediscovered in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

The Lewiston Tribune newspaper reported Monday that “apple detective” David Benscoter located the trees growing near a butte in the rolling hills of the vast Palouse agricultural area.

Benscoter worked with apple experts at the Temperate Orchard Conservancy in Oregon and Fedco Seeds in Maine to positively identify the apple types. They were compared to written descriptions from old books and antique watercolor paintings.

The newly rediscovered apples include the Shackleford, Saxon Priest, Kittageskee, Ewalt and McAffee varietals. An estimated 17,000 named apple varieties are thought to have originated in North America, but Benscoter says only about 4,000 still exist today.

“I just love the history of these old apples and what they meant to the first homesteaders that arrived here in eastern Washington and northern Idaho,” Benscoter said. “The apple was the most important fruit you could have, and it could be used in so many ways.”

He first became interested in hunting down the almost-gone and nearly forgotten fruit when he helped a neighbor with chores on her property. He found an old apple tree and began to search the internet to try to figure out what variety it bore.

By checking old county fair records in Whitman County, Washington, he discovered several apple types that were listed as extinct.

Since that time, he has discovered more than 20 varieties of apples that were once considered lost. He’s hoping area residents will let him know if they have old apple trees in neglected orchards or growing in back fields that he can examine.

“Those apples have been forgotten about in the back of someone’s field or an old orchard nobody has taken care of in a hundred years,” Benscoter said. “I’m hopeful, and obviously the search has been somewhat successful, and so I think there are still many apples out there that can be found.”

Apples have as many 50 different identifiers, including stem length, shape, size, color and structure.

Benscoter thinks he’s found an additional seven apples in the region that were also thought to be extinct or extremely rare, but they have yet to be confirmed.

Those include the Autumn Gray, Surprise No. 1, Flushing Spitzenburg, Republican Pippin, Bogdanoff Glass, Flory and Early Colton.

Now they just need to start planting some new orchards and getting them going again.

These types of apple trees are obviously tough and have acclimated over the years.

I’m sure there would be a market for them.

4 thoughts on “5 Types Of Pioneer Stock Apples Once Thought To Be Extinct Rediscovered In Northern Idaho and Washington

  1. There few old apple, pear, and maple trees in the high plains of New Mexico.
    Old school in ghost towns. Even some buried tin stars and gold pieces.

    Hard not to notice, but not enough to broadcast.


  2. Reminds me of a woman who was researching old grape varieties for her doctorate. I recall her telling me about a grape that was growing in incredible high altitudes in the South Tyrolean Alps. The wine that was made out of these grapes wasn’t considered drinkable by those living in the valleys – they even had a joke going about the acidity of that wine:
    „They’re ringing their church bells at 3 o‘clock in the morning to give those people a chance to roll around in bed so that the acid they drank wouldn’t eat through their stomach wall“ 😁


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