-by Dwight Bradley


The Crimson Beauty, or Scarlet Pippin, is an antique, early-ripening, red apple variety. Although still not widely grown in Alaska, it shows considerable promise. According to Beach (1905, Apples of New York, v. 2, p. 196-197), it originated about 1860 in Lynn, Ontario. Harold Jones, an Ontario agricultural researcher, is credited with having brought the variety to general notice.


The apple resembles Fameuse and Macintosh. Beach did not report on its parentage, but it seems likely that it was a Fameuse seedling, as this variety was widely planted in Upper Canada in the 1700’s and 1800’s, whereas McIntosh was not even propagated until 1870. As described by Beach, the red fruit is medium size, very attractive, and round to slightly oblate. The flesh is white, firm, crisp, mild subacid with a pleasant but not high flavor, and very good (This was before grade inflation — Beach rated only a very few apples higher than very good).


In our Peters Creek orchard, we have one Crimson Beauty tree that we planted in 1992 as a one-year whip. It bore its first crop of three or four apples in 1994, and its second crop of the same size- this year. In 1994, the fruit ripened around the middle of September (about the same time as Yellow Transparent), and would have rated at least 9 on a scale 10. The 1995 crop, unfortunately, was pecked off the tree around the end of August by magpies.


The tree seems well suited to Alaskan conditions. According to Stilphen (1993, Apples of Maine, p. 83-84), it was widely grown in Aroostook County, northernmost Maine (Zones 2 and 3) a century ago. (In the late 1800’s, northernmost Maine and Minnesota were still the proving grounds in the U.S. for hardy fruit trees.) St. Lawrence Nurseries rates it as hardy to Zone 1 or 2. It has suffered little or no winterkill in three winters at Peters Creek. It also has the advantage of shutting down early, shedding its leaves just after Rescue and Chinese Golden Early. This makes it less prone to breakage during the first ice- and snowstorms in the fall.


I would be interested in hearing from other Alaskan growers about any experiences with Crimson Beauty. From what I’ve seen so far, it is a variety worthy of more testing. I grafted three more trees in 1995, which will be going into the ground in 1996. Ample scionwood will be available in the Spring of 1996.