Gravenstein apple tree
Gravenstein is a high-quality dual-purpose apple variety, originally from Europe, but well-established in North America. It can be grown in most US climate zones.
Gravenstein has never achieved great commercial success, but "Gravs" remain extremely popular with apple enthusiasts around the world. The flavor, both for eating fresh and (especially) for cooking is unusually good for such an early-season variety.
Like most early-season apples Gravenstein does not keep that well but, usefully, the apples tend to ripen individually over the course of a couple of weeks so you are not necessarily faced with a sudden glut. (This lengthy ripening time is one of the reasons Gravenstein is not successful as a commercial variety, but is a plus for the home orchardist).
Gravensteins have a distinctive flushed coloring, which begins in mid-August as a few streaks of red, and spreads to cover the whole apple by the end of the picking season in mid-September.
Gravenstein apple trees for sale
Small 1-year bare-root tree
Mature height: 6ft-9ft after 10 years
How to grow
Gravenstein is sometimes regarded as an unreliable or difficult variety - but part of this is likely to be caused by poor pollination. There are two pollination-related issues to be aware of when growing Gravenstein. Firstly it is a triploid variety, so it will not pollinate other apple varieties. Secondly it flowers very early in the season, when not many other apple varieties are in flower to pollinate it. Therefore most of the reliability problems with Gravenstein can be resolved by making sure you have some other early-flowering apple trees (of different varieties) nearby. See our pollination checker for suggestions. Whilst we put Gravenstein in flowering group 1 to help ensure that other early-blooming varieties are listed against it in our pollination checker, it is worth noting that Gravenstein can flower over a long period and sometimes appears to have a second flush of blossoms later in the flowering season. Therefore perhaps the best advice is to plant a couple of good early/mid-season pollinators nearby - a crab-apple would be ideal.
Reflecting its triploid nature, Gravenstein trees tend to be quite large and long-lived.
Gravenstein can be susceptible to various apple diseases, although there is no obvious pattern and it does seem to be down to local conditions and climate. It appears to prefer cooler climates, and although it has a reputation for being a bit temperaramental, is surprisingly cold hardy. It can be very susceptible to fireblight in those areas where it is prevalent.
In short Gravenstein is not the easiest apple to grow, but a lot of apple enthusiasts are prepared to keep trying because the flavor is so good! It is therefore not the best choice if it is to be your only source of garden apples, but if you already have other apple trees then Gravenstein is well worth taking a chance on.
Advice on fruit tree pollination.
Gravenstein is undoubtedly a very old variety - 18th century or earlier. In 2005 it became the National apple of Denmark.
- Gardening skillExperienced
- Self-fertilityNot self-fertile
- Pollination group1
- Pollinating othersPoor
- Bearing regularityBiennial tendency
- WildlifeRHS Plants for Pollinators
- Picking seasonEarly
- UsesEating freshCulinaryTraditional cookerDual purpose
- Keeping (of fruit)1 week
- Flavor style (apples)Sweet/Sharp
- Cooking resultKeeps shape
- General resistancePoor
- FireblightVery susceptible
- CankerSome susceptibility
- ScabSome susceptibility
- Cedar apple rustVery resistant
- MildewSome susceptibility
- Cold hardiness (USDA)(5) -20F / -29C
- Summer maximum temperaturesWarm (25-30C / 76-85F)Hot (>30C / 86F)
- Chill requirementLow-chill A borderline case - only needs about 700 hours
- Country of originDenmark
- Period of origin1750 - 1799