Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Tom Putt? Flower of the Town? - You Decide

One of the major attractions of an Apple Day event, is the chance to meet an apple 'expert', who may be able to positively identify your mystery garden fruit for you. It's a two-way service, with occasional rarities, or even 'lost' varieties coming to light, which is just about as exciting as it's possible to get for a pomologist I guess.

If you're lucky, you may be able to match up your specimen with one of the many examples on display, otherwise there's likely to be a small library of illustrated books on hand to help the identification process. Even then, a positive ID may be difficult, and there's always the chance your fruit will turn out to be a 'wilding' variety from a unique pip-grown tree. Apple identification is a fascinating, yet fiendishly difficult pastime. I know, I've tried it and failed on numerous occasions.

Which brings me to an apple which has been foxing me for a few years now. It's an aromatic, sharp, early apple, growing in the far corner of the orchard in Worcestershire. A rather pretty apple I think, with its green/yellow skin, and profusion of red stripes. Given that this is a mixed orchard, containing dessert, culinary, cider and perry varieties, we've tentatively classified this apple as Tom Putt, a dual purpose variety, often used for cider in it's native Devon. It certainly matches the description in Liz Copas 'A Somerset Pomona - The Cider Apples of Somerset', though less so the accompanying photograph it has to be said.

The fruit expert who attended the Brocks Hill Apple Day, was from the Northern Fruit Group, and he confidently identified these specimens as Flower of the Town, a native apple of Yorkshire. I have to say I'm not convinced of this, and I'm even less persuaded having seen the beautiful watercolour of a Tom Putt in the recently re-published 'The Apple Book' by Rosie Sanders. The resemblance is really quite striking, and it just seems more likely to me that a West Country dual purpose/cider apple would be planted in a Worcestershire orchard, than a Yorkshire dessert apple. So until proven otherwise, Tom Putt it is...

The Apple Book comes highly recommended. The watercolours really are stunning, and you can view a fascinating video of the work in progress on this YouTube Channel.


nigel deacon said...

i have a tom putt tree, and the fruit match closely with the specimens you've photographed.

flower of the town is more ribbed, and strongly scented when ripe. tom putt has very little scent.

nigel deacon said...

ps mark

i have a pic if you'd like it.


Ray and Gail said...

Hmmm - doesn't look too much like my Tom Putt's tbh... But then I am no expert. The flesh is too white I think? The background of my Twitter home page is of buckets of Tom Putts so compare it with that. There are certainly similarities I must admit, so maybe...