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Get the kids excited for back to school and fall with this cute Apple Math Tree Learning Activity!

They will love matching the right numbered apples to the correct equation on the tree.

What’s great is that you can have a bushel of numbered apples and print out any variety of equations for your child depending on their math level.

We’re showing simple addition here, but you can easily print out multiplication, or division problems for older kids.

All you need are paper and our FREE Apple PRINTABLE to make this adorable Apple Math Tree.

This is part of the Apple Activity Week Theme happening over on Instagram where we are sharing our activity (@hellowonderful_co) along with 4 other awesome early learning Instagram accounts, @busytoddler, @happytotshelf, @dayswithgrey, and @littleoneslearn.

We’ll be sharing our favorite Apple activities with you all week long (week of 9/4/18) so make sure to follow along the #appleactivityweek hashtag or check out our friend’s activities on their blog directly:

Apple Theme Learning Shelf – Happy Tot Shelf

Now, on to our Apple Math Tree!


  • Green paper (we actually used a piece of large green foam paper since that’s what we had but paper works and is more common)
  • Brown paper
  • Red paper
  • Black marker
  • Glue
  • Printer and white copy paper
  • Free Printable Apple Template (includes stems and leaves download right below)

Scroll all the way down to watch the video on how to make this sweet Apple Math Tree Learning Activity


Step 1. Cut out a rounded green tree shape, and the brown stand. Glue together.

Step 2. Print out your apples on red paper, cut out as many as you’d like.

apple, tree, math, game

Step 3. Print out your stems on brown paper, and leaves on green paper. Cut out as many number as your apples.

Step 4. Glue one leaf and stem to each Apple.

Step 5. Print out equations on white copy paper (any that you’d like your child to learn). Cut into strips.

Step 6. Use an Apple cut-out shape as a template to trace over your green tree top, various apples.

Step 7. Write answers on your apples in black marker.

Step 8. Have your child add the equation strips of paper to each blank Apple on the tree and match the numbered Apple to the right answer!

Isn’t this a sweet way to learn and a fun Apple learning craft?


Get the kids excited for back to school and fall with this cute Apple Math Tree Learning Activity!

They will love matching the right numbered apples to the correct equation on the tree.


  • Green paper (we actually used a piece of large green foam paper since that’s what we had but paper works and is more common)
  • Brown paper
  • Red paper
  • Black marker
  • Glue
  • Printer and white copy paper
  • Free Printable Apple Template (includes stems and leaves) GRAB IT ABOVE IN THE POST


Step 1. Cut out a rounded green tree shape, and the brown stand. Glue together.Step 2. Print out your apples on red paper, cut out as many as you’d like.

Step 3. Print out your stems on brown paper, and leaves on green paper. Cut out as many number as your apples.

Step 4. Glue one leaf and stem to each Apple.Step 5. Print out equations on white copy paper (any that you’d like your child to learn). Cut into strips.

Step 6. Use an Apple cut-out shape as a template to trace over your green tree top, various apples.Step 7. Write answers on your apples in black marker.

Step 8. Have your child add the equation strips of paper to each blank Apple on the tree and match the numbered Apple to the right answer!

_ Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive a small affiliate commission. Regardless, we give our promise that we only recommend products or services we would use personally and believe will add values to our readers.

How do you like them space apples?

John Chapman was an American Hero, introducing Apple trees across Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Ontario, and what is now West Virginia. While it’s charming to imagine him as randomly sowing Apple seeds wherever he went, in truth he was more methodical. He planted nurseries of young trees, fenced them off and left them in someone’s care, returning every so often to tend to the trees. But as the legendary Johnny Appleseed, he is a true Hero of the pioneer age.

As we look ahead to becoming a multi-planetary species, it seems likely that we’ll want to take our apples with us as we spread out from Earth. But so far, the Apple has only taken a few small steps towards the final frontier.

Newton’s Apple

An Apple tree has a very special place in space history, entwined with Newton’s discovery of the laws of gravity. The idea that an Apple falling caused Newton’s “a-ha” moment is a memorable exaggeration, but he himself credited the tree with sowing the seeds of his new theory. Now around 400 years old, that tree still exists at Newton’s former home – Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire.

Fittingly, the first Apple pips to travel into space were from Newton’s Apple tree. Supplied by the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale in Kent, they flew on Apollo 10 with John Young, Thomas Stafford and Gene Cernan, orbiting the Moon in May 1969. Apollo 10 was the “dress rehearsal” for the Moon landing, doing everything but land on the Moon. A letter signed by the three astronauts confirms that the Apple seeds stayed in the Command Module, nicknamed Charlie Brown.

The letter is addressed to Philip M Mikoda in Windsor, New York. He was associated with Peacock Hill, an exotic bird farm. It looks as though Mikoda arranged the launch of the seeds, which explains why the package also contained peacock feathers. Mikoda later wrote to Brogdale, stating that the seeds had begun to germinate once they returned to Earth. He wanted more pips to send on Apollo 11, but it’s surprisingly difficult to find any more details.

Alan’s Apple?

Interestingly the US National Plant Germplasm System has a record for a variety of Apple called ‘Bean’. It notes that the variety is a cross between ‘Golden Delicious’ and ‘Flower of Kent’ (Newton’s Apple tree is a Flower of Kent) and that its seeds supposedly flew to the Moon with Alan Bean on Apollo 12. However, I can’t find any corroborating data to suggest that’s true. Roger D. Way of Cornell University donated the ‘Bean’ sample in January 1986. He was a world-renowned pomologist and Apple breeder and died at the ripe old age of 100 in June 2019. Even if it is true that the Bean Apple has been to the Moon, it’s unlikely ever to be popular. The USDA website describes it as small, acidic, and worthless.

Apple wood flies in space

Newton’s Apple has remained source of inspiration to spacefarers. In 2010, British-born NASA astronaut Piers Sellers travelled to the International Space Station in Space Shuttle Atlantis. That year was the 350th anniversary of the Royal Society, of which Newton was once president. As part of the celebrations, the Royal Society entrusted a piece of wood from Newton’s Apple tree to Sellers to take into space. It was stowed away with a portrait of Newton for its trip into microgravity.

At the time, Sellers said: “We’re delighted to take this piece of Sir Isaac Newton’s Apple tree to orbit. While it’s up there, it will be experiencing no gravity, so if it had an Apple on it, the Apple wouldn’t fall. I’m pretty sure that Sir Isaac would have loved to see this, assuming he wasn’t spacesick, as it would have proved his first law of motion to be correct. After the flight, we will be returning the piece of tree and a flown picture of Sir Isaac Newton back to The Royal Society.”

But while a dead stick from Newton’s Apple tree may be hugely symbolic, it’s not exactly vibrant, is it?

Tim Peake takes the pips

Fortunately, the next mission for Newton’s Apple was a little more lively. In 2014, British astronaut Tim Peake announced that he was naming his six-month mission to the International Space Station Principia after Newton’s famous text Naturalis Principia Mathematica, which describes the principal laws of motion and gravity. When he blasted off from Baikonur in 2015, Tim had a handful of Apple pips from Newton’s tree in his Just like Tim, the seeds had to undergo rigorous preparation for their space mission. At Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, seed scientists carefully dried them and packed them to ensure they could be kept at low humidity – a vital step for the long-term storage of most seeds.

After spending six months in space and travelling millions of miles, the seeds returned to the Millennium Seed Bank for the next phase of their mission. These days, most Apple trees are propagated by grafting, which ensures that the resulting tree (and its fruit) is a clone of its parent. It’s rare for apples to be deliberately propagated from seed, but Apple pips are an important reservoir of genetic diversity.

Back at the Millennium Seed Bank, the space seeds spent their first 90 days just chillin’ – literally! The scientists stored them in Petri dishes in the dark, cooled to 5°C to simulate a period of winter cold to break the natural dormancy in the seeds.

The next stage was a simulated spring, which saw the seeds basking in the light at 15°C and germinating. The Millennium Seed Bank sits in the middle of Kew’s “other” garden at Wakehurst Place in Sussex. Once the seedlings had been potted up, it was the job of the horticulturalists at Wakehurst to nurse them into healthy saplings.

A competition selected new homes for the trees, which will live out their (hopefully very long) lives in some genuinely inspiring locations:

  • The Eden Project (Cornwall)
  • Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre (Cheshire)
  • Brogdale Collections, Home of the National Fruit Collection (Kent)
  • Catalyst Science Discovery Centre (Cheshire)
  • The Royal Parks and National Physical Laboratory (Middlesex)
  • South Derbyshire District Council, Environmental Education Project at Rosliston Forestry Centre
  • Woolsthorpe Manor (Lincolnshire)
  • United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (Vienna)

Apple Tree Game

In January 2020, Tim Peake himself had the honour of planting the Apple sapling that returned to its ancestral home at Woolsthorpe Manor. At that historic event, he said: “My mission to space was named Principia in homage to Newton’s defining work that included his world-changing ideas about gravity. I wanted my Principia mission to inspire others, particularly young people, with the adventure of space and the excitement of science. Now, thanks to the careful nurturing at Kew, the Apple pips that flew with me into space have grown into fine young trees which I hope will continue to inspire potential Isaac Newtons.”

Holy orbiting Apple seeds, Batman!

In December 2019, Boeing launched its Starliner capsule on its first mission. Unfortunately, it failed to dock with the International Space Station as planned and returned to Earth after 48 hours, carrying seeds for Douglas Fir, Loblolly Pine, Sycamore, Redwood and Sweetgum. In 1971, Apollo 14 took those same species to the Moon and back, and they grew into the famous Moon Trees. Starliner’s less travelled seeds are destined to be planted at Boeing sites, suppliers and other stakeholders across the country to grow the first generation of Starliner trees. (Boeing’s second Starliner mission should have launched with another set of tree seeds, but at the time of writing, it’s stuck in the hangar with engine problems!)

Johnny’s Apple seeds in space

But another batch of seeds went into space on the original Starliner flight. Mike Mongo has a YouTube channel of Astronaut Adventures. He heard about Tim Peake’s Principia mission to the International Space Station and the Apple pips Tim carried into orbit from Newton’s Apple tree. And reading about those Apple seeds led to an idea germinating in Mike’s head, because the USA has its own Apple-related Hero – Johnny Appleseed.

John Chapman was born in 1774 and lived a strange and nomadic life. He wandered the continent for more than 40 years, planting hundreds of thousands of Apple trees on the frontier. He became a person of legend, often depicted wearing a cooking pot for a hat. He is also revered for his virtues, living in peaceful coexistence with plants, animals and humans alike. Although there’s almost nothing in the historical record about him, estimates suggest that he planted more than six million Apple seeds during his lifetime.

Mike managed to track down a surviving tree planted by Johnny Appleseed, hatched a plan, found some organizations willing to help and launched The Johnny Appleseed in Space project. Seeds from that historic tree went into space on Starliner in 2019. Mike planned to distribute the space-flown seeds to US schools for propagating and planting, alongside seeds from the same tree that had stayed on Earth.

However, like so many plans, Mike’s idea was derailed by the Covid-19 pandemic. So Mike sent ten space-flown Apple seeds to Alexander Meyers, a researcher in Ohio University’s Department of Environmental and Plant Biology. Alexander is charged with the care and germination of the genuine Space Apple Seeds from the last living tree planted by Johnny Appleseed himself. No pressure!


As it happens, the Apple’s most recent foray into space was its least successful mission. In September 2021, LifeShip loaded its “Capsule 1” payload for the inaugural flight of Firefly Aerospace’s Alpha rocket. LifeShip wants to send DNA capsules throughout the solar system, including Earth orbit, the Moon and beyond. Capsule 1 held DNA from 430 terrestrial plants, with origins in North, Central, and South America, the Mediterranean, Africa, New Zealand and Australia. Traveling alongside samples from the Coast redwood, California poppy, Hummingbird Sage, Joshua Tree, Bird of Paradise, Needlewood and Black Bamboo was DNA from crops such as carrots, bananas, and apples. Sadly the rocket blew up shortly after reaching supersonic speeds, and the samples never made it to orbit.

And as our whirlwind tour of apples in space draws to a close, it leaves us with one question to stew on. When will the next Apple take flight?

How long does it take an Apple tree to grow?

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It’s harvest time! Have you recently planted your own Apple tree and are wondering how long it takes for an Apple tree to grow?

The number of years it takes for an Apple tree to mature and bear fruit depends on which variety of Apple tree you have planted. Standard Apple trees, or full-size trees, can start producing fruit 4 to 8 years after being planted.

A small Apple tree from the nursery will generally start producing a small crop of apples about 3 years after planting. Apple varieties grafted onto dwarf rootstocks may bear fruit in as little as 1-2 years after purchase if the trees have been grown for several years in a nursery setting prior to sale. Apple trees with standard-height rootstocks may take longer to grow apples – generally from 3 to 5 years. An Apple tree grown from seed will take five to twelve years to produce fruit!

Here’s all about how long you’ll be waiting to harvest your own yummy apples!

Apple tree growing stages

Most Apple trees sold at nurseries are created by grafting a stick from an existing tree onto a separate rootstock. This allows for manual cloning of a variety, which is how we get multiple trees for our favorite varieties, such as Gala, Honeycrisp, and Fuji.

A younger fruit tree is usually grafted using sticks that are about the thickness of a pencil. The trees are typically grown in the nursery for about two years (or more) prior to being sold at a garden center.

Standard Apple trees take longer to grow to maturity than dwarf and semi-dwarf trees. This also means that trees that have been grafted onto dwarf rootstocks typically bear fruit more quickly than those grafted onto standard rootstocks.

If a tree that’s two years of age on a dwarf or semi-dwarf rootstock was sold at a nursery and promptly planted, it may bear a few apples in as soon as three years (for a total age of about five years).

established Apple trees may only take 1-2 years to bear fruit after purchase. Ultimately, the rootstock plays a major role in determining the tree’s ultimate size and how long it will take to bear fruit.

Most varieties of Apple trees grow and produce well in plant hardiness zones 4-8. Apple fruit trees tend to reach maturity faster when the climate zones aren’t overly cold (like in chilly zone 4), but they need adequate winter chilling hours to produce fruit (which can be tricky in zone 8 if the winter is mild).

If you don’t know your local growing zone, look it up on the USDA Climate Hardiness Map by zip code or name of your town. These trees also grow best when grown in well-drained soil and in a spot with good air circulation.

While not common in commerce, an Apple tree can be grown from seed. This is how wild Apple trees grow and how new varieties are bred by scientists. Apple trees on their own roots (not a grafted rootstock) are usually much larger in size than grafted orchard trees.

An Apple tree grown from seed can be expected to take 6-10 years to grow to a mature tree and reach the point where it can reliably produce ripe fruits.

Apple fruit formation

Apples form on Apple tree branches of mature trees when blossoms are successfully pollinated. Each blossom has the potential to become an Apple. Apple trees blossom each spring on branches that have overwintered on the tree.

While different Apple varieties bloom at slightly different times, most bloom in mid-spring. Apple trees tend to bloom in May in Apple-growing regions (around the time that tulips bloom).

Similar to other fruit trees, Apple trees are most commonly pollinated by bees. There are a few varieties of apples which are self-fertile and can be pollinated with their own pollen, but most varieties of Apple trees require a different Apple variety growing nearby to produce fruit.

Pollinating insects move the pollen from one tree’s blossoms to a different tree’s blossoms to pollinate each blossom. This is why Apple trees are commonly planted in pairs, where the trees are different varieties that tend to bloom simultaneously.

Apple orchards interplant Apple varieties for better pollination. Nearby crabapple trees can also work as pollinator partners.

Harvesting apples from Apple trees

Each Apple tree produces fruit each Autumn only once per year. Fresh organic apples are abundant in the fall. Apple harvest time in North America is between August and October.

Apples grown in the Southern hemisphere tend to ripen during February-March. Because few apples can be stored for 12 months, apples are generally shipped around the world to ensure year-round availability at the grocery store.

apple, tree, math, game

Apple trees are truly gorgeous throughout the year. From the display of blossoms in the spring to the harvest of fruit in the fall, the Apple tree is truly a showstopper in the yard. And Apple trees produce fruit best when they have some other Apple trees of a different type nearby! Here are some lovely different types of apples to grow.

Apples can be harvested off the branch by gently turning each Apple upside down so that the bottom is facing up to the sky. There is no need to twist or pull on the Apple. Ripe apples will come off the tree gently when inverted. Apples are sweetest when left on the tree to ripen.

“Grafting is common because it can take five to 12 years until a tree grown from seed is ready to produce fruit – and even then, the chances of the “seedling” tree producing tasty fruit is minimal, due to genetic diversity.”

Growing Urban Orchards: How to Care for Fruit Trees in the City and Beyond, by Susan Poizner

Planting your own Apple trees

Have you noticed Apple trees in neighbors’ yards, orchards, or at local nurseries? If so, you can consider planting your own mini-orchard. Growing your own organic apples is a bit of an exercise in patience, but the effort is rewarded sweetly each fall.

If you do decide to plant your own Apple trees, you’re in luck! Spring is a good time, as the stock in the garden centers is usually the best. But keep in mind that fall is the perfect time to plant new trees. Not only are trees generally reasonably priced in the fall, but they also are headed into winter dormancy. It’s a great time to plant them. After they bear fruit all summer, fruit trees get a break in the fall and winter seasons.

Planting trees in the fall will ensure they don’t have to endure the stresses of the hot sun and parched soil, nor the burden of producing fruit. Newly-planted fruit trees can cozy up in their new homes for the winter. Your new trees will be right at home by the time they blossom in the spring.

That said, it’s also completely possible to plant an Apple tree in the spring. Just take extra care to ensure they are very well watered for the first year or two as the roots become established in the soil.

Planning your orchard and purchasing Apple trees

If you’d like to start growing organic apples, first take a look at your property to decide the best location for the trees. Pick an area of your yard that gets ample sunlight, preferably in the morning. This will ensure the production of good fruit.

Apple Math Tree Addition Activity | Addition Games for Kids

You’ll also want to make sure this area is accessible for future Apple picking. Keep in mind that you’ll need at least two Apple fruit trees of two different Apple varieties to ensure cross-pollination. Take some measurements to bring along to the nursery with you.

Once you’ve planned your planting area, head down to your local independent nursery for some trees. Talk over the available varieties with the nursery staff.

Pick two varieties that blossom at the same time to ensure good pollination. If local availability is limited, it’s also possible to buy Apple trees online (here’s my take on what it’s like to buy trees online).

Common, conventionally-grown trees are available throughout the year from larger retailers while more unique varieties (Ambrosia, Pink Lady, Jonathan) may only be available in the shoulder seasons.

If you can only fit one Apple tree in your yard, you may be able to find a self-pollinating type. Alternatively, you might get away with a single tree if your neighbors also have trees. If the trees are compatible and bloom at the same time, a tree within about 100 feet may be able to provide adequate (if not ideal) pollination.

You may also consider planting dwarf or semi-dwarf varieties. These smaller trees make for an easier Apple harvest (especially for children).

Discuss your individual needs with the staff at your local independent nursery. They will know the specifics of your region, including the best varieties and other geographically-specific tips.

A fruit tree can only be transplanted reliably from the nursery to your garden or orchard when immature. In fact, the younger the tree, the better – a 1-year ‘maiden’ tree will invariably establish quicker and grow away better in the spring than an older tree.

Even if mature fruit trees were available, they would almost certainly not fruit straight after planting, and without specialist planting and care in the first year after planting might not survive at all.

Growing Apple trees from seed

If you’re not into buying trees, it is possible to grow an Apple tree from seed. Growing an Apple tree from seed does not always produce good fruit. In fact, the apples produced by a tree grown from seed will not be the same as the Apple from which the seeds were collected.

If you do decide to grow your own trees from seed, start with seeds you’ve collected from local organic apples that you thought were delicious. According to Paul Wheaton, there is about a 20% chance your new tree will grow delicious apples and a 60% chance that the tree will produce “ok” apples. They might be good for making juice, for making Apple sauce, or even for pies. They’ll be ok for something.

Unfortunately, there is a 20% chance that the tree will be a “spitter”. Spitter Apple trees produce apples that are not good to eat. These apples can be used to feed livestock, or you can chop down the tree and make Apple chips for smoking meats. I’m not sure how scientific these percentages are either.

Growing organic Apple trees from seed isn’t exactly standard practice. All the Apple trees you see in nurseries and orchards are likely grafted. If you are a little adventurous and very patient, try these instructions for growing your own trees from seed.

How to plant Apple trees?

If you decide to buy grafted trees rather than growing from seed, as I did, place the new trees in their containers close to their future homes on your property. Rotate the container around to find the most suitable orientation of the branches.

Once you’re confident about the future homes for the trees, dig a hole for each tree. If you’re not sure about the location, you may want to observe the environment in your yard, try out a few areas, and find the best location for your trees.

For dwarf varieties, plant the trees between 15 ft and 50 ft apart. Each hole should be quite wide (perhaps twice the size of the container in which the tree is delivered). Hole depth, however, should not be deeper than the tree’s container.

Resist the urge to “improve” the hole by adding fertilizer. This will only encourage the tree to grow at exactly the time it needs to be going dormant for winter.

Place each tree in the hole so that the soil in the container is at the same level as the surrounding ground. Backfill the hole with the existing soil and lightly tamp it down. Do not compact the soil excessively.

How to grow organic apples?

Give the tree a thorough watering after planting. If you wish to feed the tree, a light mulch of compost can be applied on top of the soil after you’ve finished planting the tree. Ensure that no soil or mulch is touching the tree trunk. Soil and mulch should never touch the bark of any tree, as it invites moisture, bacteria, and rot. This may prevent the tree from producing good fruit.

If you mulch the tree with shredded fall leaves for the winter, keep the same rule in mind. Mulch, of any kind, should never touch the bark of a tree.

Don’t try to do too much to the tree before it goes dormant for winter. Fall is not the time to start pruning a newly-planted Apple tree. Wait until winter or early spring to do any pruning (although young trees may not require it yet).

apple, tree, math, game

Fertilizer is not recommended in Autumn. Also beware that if you use synthetic chemical fertilizer on your Apple tree, it won’t be organic anymore! Top dress the soil with a bit of compost in the fall if you must, but otherwise just make sure it has enough water and leave it to its own devices. The best time to fertilize fruit trees is in the spring.

General maintenance for growing organic apples

In the winter or early spring, you can give the tree a light pruning if necessary. Remove any cross-branches (branches that go in odd directions) or dead/damaged/diseased parts of the tree. As you are working with a young tree that has been recently transplanted, be gentle with the pruning. Don’t remove too much of the tree in its first year.

Your goal is only to improve airflow around individual branches by reducing branch crowding. You want the sun’s rays to reach into the center of the tree, and want air to be able to circulate around each branch. This will help the tree to bear fruit properly.

If you are new to pruning, I recommend borrowing a copy of The Pruning Book, by Lee Reich, from your local library or friendly fruit enthusiast. Lee is a fruit-growing guru who is known for his scientifically-based yet practical methods of instruction. His book, Grow Fruit Naturally, is also an excellent resource if you find that pests are invading your trees. There are several methods of chemical-free, natural pest control suited to growing organic apples.

Newton’s Apple tree has descendants and clones all over the world

Its apples taste bad, but institutions all over the world want a descendant or clone of the tree, anyway.

  • No, the Apple didn’t fall on Newton’s head, but the story checks out — and the tree is still alive.
  • You can go visit it at the scientist’s home in Lincolnshire. Or you could find a descendant or clone closer to home.
  • As this map shows, there are now “gravity trees” on all continents except Antarctica.

Copy a link to the article entitled http://Newton’s%20apple%20tree%20has%20descendants%20and%20clones%20all%20over%20the%20world

It’s gnarly and bent, almost four centuries old, and the most famous tree in the history of science. From that last clue alone, you may have guessed we’re talking about Sir Isaac Newton’s “gravity tree” — because it was an Apple falling from its branches that sparked the scientist’s understanding of how gravity works.

Here are three amazing things about that tree:

  • Contrary to what you may have heard, the story of Newton and the Apple tree is not too good to be true. It’s only embellished a little bit.
  • The Apple tree is still alive; and yes, we’re pretty sure it’s the right one.
  • That tree has parented a worldwide family of saplings. There are now “gravity trees” on every continent except Antarctica, and Atlas Obscura has the map to prove it.

Avoiding Cambridge like the plague

For the origin of the story, let’s go back in time to the summer of 1665. Isaac Newton, then just 23 years old and fresh from obtaining his BA at Cambridge, flees the university to avoid the Great Plague, then killing thousands in London and other English cities. He returns to Woolsthorpe Manor, his ancestral home and birthplace in the relative safety of the Lincolnshire countryside.

While physically homebound, Newton in his mind travels to previously unexplored places. Freed from the strictures of academic life, Newton had the time to think and experiment on his own. This time spent back home was later called his annus mirabilis, or “wonder year.” At Woolsthorpe Manor, Newton laid the groundwork for his theories on calculus and optics, as well as the laws of motion and, yes, gravity — thanks to that Apple.

In one version of the story, Newton sits under the Apple tree and the fruit hits him squarely on the noggin. That’s too neat. But Newton was inspired by seeing an Apple fall. He told that story to plenty of people, including to his niece, who told Voltaire, whose retelling helped popularize the story.

Another source is William Stukely, who in his Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton’s Life (1752), relates the following conversation with Newton himself, a year before the scientist’s death:

“We went into the garden, drank thea under the shade of some appletrees, only he, myself. Amidst other discourse, he told me, he was just in the same situation, as when formerly, the notion of gravitation came into his mind.

“‘Why should that Apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground,’ thought he to him self: occasion’d by the fall of an Apple, as he sat in a contemplative mood: ‘Why should it not go sideways, or upwards? But constantly to the earths centre? Assuredly, the reason is, that the earth draws it. There must be a drawing power in matter. the sum of the drawing power in the matter of the earth must be in the earths center, not in any side of the earth.’

“Therefore dos this Apple fall perpendicularly, or toward the center. If matter thus draws matter; it must be in proportion of its quantity. Therefore the Apple draws the earth, as well as the earth draws the Apple.”

A famous specimen of an unpopular species

The King’s School in Grantham, just north of Woolsthorpe Manor, claims the original “gravity tree” was uprooted and replanted in their headmaster’s garden. But Woolsthorpe Manor itself, now managed as a museum, maintains the old specimen in their garden is the right one. That latter claim is supported by various historical sketches, always showing an Apple tree where the current one stands. There is no record of any other Apple trees at the manor contemporaneous with Newton.

The one, true “gravity tree” likely was planted around 1650, which means it was still fairly young when Newton saw one of its apples fall. It’s a variety known as “Flower of Kent,” producing a bland, mealy variety of Apple used mainly for cooking. The species is no longer popular, but this individual one has remained famous.

It did take more than 20 years for that Apple to fall, in a manner of speaking: Newton published his law of universal gravitation in his seminal work Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, which came out in 1687. From that year onward, as the impact of Newton’s work grew, the tree too acquired a venerated status. After it was blown down in a storm in 1820, its wrecked wood was turned into trinkets, snuff boxes, and by some accounts even a chair (current whereabouts unknown).

Fortunately, the tree was able to be rerooted and, although now clearly past its prime, it continues to be a direct, living link to the work of Sir Isaac Newton.

Zero-gravity tree

In 2012, on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth II’s golden jubilee, the tree was selected as one of 50 Great British Trees. Seeds of the tree were even taken into space for an experiment by the European Space Agency on board the International Space Station on the 2014-15 Principia mission.

Its fame also led to shoots being planted elsewhere. Today, descendants of the original “gravity tree” can be found at universities, botanical gardens, and other scientific institutions across the world.

The Atlas Obscura map shows a number of locations, but it doesn’t mention precise locations or addresses. Below is an overview that we pieced together.

There are several descendants of the “gravity tree” in the UK itself.

  • In 1820, a shoot of the original tree was planted in Belton Park, near the tree’s original site. That location is not shown on the map, so the tree may have perished. However, it is from this tree that the Fruit Research Station in East Malling (Kent) obtained material in the 1930s, and it is mainly from this source that the original gravity tree’s descendants have spread across the world.
  • There are two “gravity trees” in Cambridge. One is outside the main gate of Trinity College, Newton’s alma mater, just below the window of the room where the scientist himself once resided. The other is at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden.
  • There are two locations in the north of England: the University of York and Loughborough University, the university closest to Woolsthorpe.
  • There are also two in the south: the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, Greater London and the Observatory Science Center at Herstmonceux in East Sussex.

There’s just one other location in Europe: at the Technische Hochschule Wildau, south of Berlin, Germany. The U.S. has 14 locations with descendants or clones of the “gravity tree,” more than any other country. Most are at universities:

  • University of Nebraska in Lincoln
  • University of Wisconsin in Madison
  • Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee
  • West Virginia University in Morgantown
  • William Mary University in Williamsburg, Virginia
  • Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio
  • Houghton University in Caneadea, upstate New York
  • Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island
  • Three in the Boston area: Babson College, MIT, and Tufts University
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland
  • International Park in Washington, DC
  • New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx

There are three “gravity tree” locations in Canada:

  • In 1968, a “gravity tree” was planted outside the Main Accelerator Building at TRIUMF, Canada’s national particle accelerator center at the University Endowment Lands in Vancouver, British Columbia. The center now manages a grove of seven “gravity trees.”
  • York University in Toronto
  • National Research Council Canada (NRC-CNRC) in Ottawa.

There are two in South America, both in Argentina:

  • Centro Atómico Constituyentes (National Nuclear Research Center) in Buenos Aires
  • Instituto Balseiro (a dependency of the National University of Cuyo and of Argentina’s National Atomic Energy Commission) in Bariloche, RIO Negro province

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Winter Hardy Apple Trees For Growers in Colder Climates

If you live in a cold climate, then you know first-hand that there are some plants that simply can’t survive a harsh winter. Fruit trees are a good example. Many varieties of stone fruit trees, like cherries, peaches and apricots, will perish if you plant them in a very cold climate.

But Apple trees are different. Many winter hardy Apple trees can be tough and resilient, surviving temperatures below.20° F (-29° C). In this article, I will talk about winter hardy Apple trees and suggest some fantastic varieties that you might want to grow.

Why is winter hardiness important for fruit tree growers?

Many types of fruit trees need to experience cold temperatures in order to produce fruit. Chill hours are the number of hours that a tree experiences temperatures below 45° F (or about 7° C). Most Apple trees, for instance, need between 800 and 1500 chill hours.

But extreme cold weather that dips below.20° F (-29° C) can damage fruit trees in many ways:

  • The roots can freeze and die, preventing the tree from taking up water and nutrients.
  • Harsh winds, cold weather and sunshine can cause tree wounds that serve as an entry point for fruit tree pests and diseases.
  • And the cumulative stress caused by extreme cold can weaken a tree or even kill it outright.

Not all fruit trees are equally susceptible to cold temperatures. There are many factors that affect how well a particular tree will withstand the cold and here are a few of them:

  • The type of fruit. For instance, mango trees will not survive in a cold climate but Apple trees will.
  • The tree variety. Winter hardy Apple trees are varieties that thrive in cold climates while other varieties, like Anna, are not adapted to the cold.
  • The rootstock. Most fruit trees are propagated by grafting and are created by fusing a fruiting branch onto the roots of another tree. Some rootstocks are better for cold climates.
  • The tree’s general health. Trees planted in ideal conditions and cared for properly are more resilient than weak and neglected trees.

Winter hardy Apple trees have been specifically bred to withstand the challenges that cold climates bring.

How are winter hardy Apple trees developed?

Some winter hardy apples started off as chance seedlings. And others were developed in plant breeding programs. Here is the difference:

Chance seedling trees: Each time you plant an Apple seed, you will have a genetically unique tree. That’s because Apple seeds contain the genetic material from both the mother tree and the father tree. The combination of those genes will result in a new tree that is different from both of its parents.

Apple trees grown from seed can be very hit or miss. You might get a tree that produces a great tasting Apple. or you might not. When you do find an Apple tree that produces amazing fruit and grows well in a cold climate it’s like winning the lottery!

If your seedling tree produces wonderful fruit, you can clone it through grafting. The McIntosh Apple is a perfect example. In the late 1800s, John McIntosh discovered this chance seedling while he was clearing his farm in Ontario, Canada. He grafted and sold these wonderful trees and the McIntosh Apple trees soon became a favorite across North America.

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Trees from plant breeding programs: Other winter hardy Apple tree varieties are the result of plant breeding. That means that breeders take the pollen from one Apple variety and they use it to fertilize the flowers of another Apple variety. The resulting seeds are planted, and the new trees that grow from those seeds are tested for winter hardiness, disease resistance, flavour, texture and juiciness and other characteristics.

For example, breeders at the New York Agricultural Experiment Station introduced the Empire Apple tree in 1966. Its mother tree was a McIntosh Apple tree and the pollen came from a Golden Delicious tree. One of the resulting seedlings was Empire, a winter hardy Apple tree that produced reliable harvests of great tasting fruit. These trees are popular in New England and grow well in other zone 4 climates too.

In the list below you’ll have examples of both chance seedling trees and trees developed by plant breeders. so let’s dig in!

Heirloom Winter Hardy Apples

I love apples with unusual flavours and interesting histories! There are so many heirloom Apple trees that fit the bill and many of them are winter hardy Apple trees.

Snow apples have been around for 400 years

One of my favorite heirloom Apple trees is called Snow. Some believe that Jesuit missionaries brought this tree to North America from France in the 1600s.

This Apple is called Snow because of its pure white, juicy flesh. The fruit tastes great fresh or cooked. While they were popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, it’s hard to buy Snow apples today. So if you want to eat them, you need to grow them yourself!

Huge Wolf River apples are great for baking

Hardiness: USD Zone 3, somewhat resistant to scab and cedar Apple rust

Wolf River is a wonderful baking Apple with fruit that is so large that some say you can make a whole pie out of a single Apple. This variety was introduced in 1870 by William Springer who lived along the Wolf River in Wisconsin. Springer had planted a number of Apple trees from seed and one of them stood out because of the size and quality of the fruit.

Other winter hardy Apple tree heirloom options

Other excellent heirloom winter hardy Apple trees that you can consider include: Northwestern Greening (Introduced in 1872 and hardy to zone 3), Granite Beauty (introduced in 1815 and hardy to zone 3), Duchess of Oldenburg (Introduced in the early 1800s and hardy to zone 2) and Dudley (Introduced in 1888 and hardy to zone 3).

Liberty and Freedom Apples Offer Freedom from Disease

Cornell University’s breeding program in Geneva, New York has come up with so many wonderful winter hardy Apple varieties over the years and two of my favorite easy-to-grow options are Liberty and Freedom.

Liberty (Hardy to USDA Zone 4) was introduced in 1978 and is wonderful for home growers because it is resistant to Apple scab, cedar Apple rust and fireblight. Its skin is red with a yellow-green background and it has crisp and tasty white flesh that stores well into winter. This fresh eating Apple also makes an excellent sweet cider.

Freedom (Hardy to USDA Zone 4) was introduced in 1958 and also is resistant to Apple scab. It is a wonderful Apple with red skin and creamy white flesh that is excellent for fresh eating, baking and for Apple juice. Freedom produces reliable annual harvests from a relatively young age.

Other disease resistant winter hardy Apple trees

Other disease resistant winter hardy Apple trees to consider include Redfree (Introduced in 1981 and hardy to zone 4), Novamac (Introduced in 1978 and hardy to zone 4) and Sweet Sixteen (Introduced in 1978 and hardy to zone 3).

Winter Hardy Apples with Unusual Flavour Profiles

For years, I thought all apples tasted pretty much the same. But over the years, I have been involved in many Apple tastings. And I learned to identify the flavours in the different varieties.

Two of my very favorite winter hardy Apple trees produce apples that will stand out to anyone, even if you have little experience tasting apples.

Ginger Gold is a fresh eating Apple that resists browning

Hardiness: USDA Zone 4, susceptible to powdery mildew and fireblight

The original Ginger Gold seedling tree was discovered in 1969 in an orchard that was partially destroyed by Hurricane Camille. The owners, Ginger and Clyde Harvey, found this seedling tree as they were cleaning up the uprooted trees.

The seedling produced yellow apples. many think that one of its parent trees was Golden Delicious. and its creamy white flesh is sweet with just a bit of tartness. It’s wonderful for eating right off of the tree and it resists browning so it works well sliced into salads. Ginger Gold is also an early season Apple, producing fruit when other Apple trees are not yet ripe.

Silken is a candy Apple without the candy

Developed by the Pacific Agrifood Research Centre in Summerland, British Columbia, Silken is a yellow Apple for those of us who love apples that are crisp and sweet. It’s best eaten soon after harvest time, so it’s difficult to find in supermarkets. You can find it in some farmers markets or you can grow it in your own backyard!

Winter Hardy Crabapples for Fabulous Blossoms and Tasty Fruit

Today people grow crabapple trees because of their beautiful blossoms and long flowering times. The tasty fruit is just a bonus. But before modern day refrigeration, crabapples were very popular because their small size made them easy to preserve as shelf-stable pickles or crabapple jelly.

Dolgo Crabapples are tasty right off the tree

Hardiness: USDA Zone 2, resistant to Apple scab and fireblight

There are lots of crabapple trees that will survive and thrive in cold climates, but one of my favourites is the Dolgo crabapple. The original seedling was said to have come from Russia in 1897, but it was formally introduced in 1917 by Niels Hansen, a plant breeder from South Dakota.

In our community orchard, most of our Apple trees are harvested early by passers-by who harvest the fruit before it is fully ripe. But few notice the Dolgo Apple tree, which is hidden in a part of the park where it is surrounded by evergreen trees. The fruit is tart but tasty fresh or cooked and it makes a luminous pink crabapple jelly that is a delight in the winter months.

Hansen’s Red Fleshed Crab for a Deep Red Apple Jelly

Hardiness: USDA Zone 3, mildly susceptible to Apple scab)

South Dakota breeder Niels Hansen also developed a red fleshed crabapple that he introduced a decade after the Dolgo. This tree which can handle temperatures of.40° F (-40° C) produces small fruit with deep burgundy skin and flesh. Even the seeds are red!

I have not yet tasted these apples, but in his book Hardy Apples: Growing Apples in Cold Climates, author Bob Osborne says these crabapples can be pickled or sugared and that they make a delicious deep red Apple jelly.



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