Cornish Gilliflower apple trees

  • Gardening skill: Average
  • Picking season: Very late
  • Keeping (of fruit): 3 months or more
  • Self-fertility: Not self-fertile
  • Pollination group: 4
  • Uses: Eating fresh

Cornish Gillyflower originates from the county of Cornwall, the south-west peninsula of the United Kingdom. It was discovered in the early 19th century and quickly established itself as one of the highest quality apples available in Victorian England.

It is not the most attractive of apples, but you grow this variety for flavor - in the words of Victorian pomologist Robert Hogg it is "remarkable for its rich and aromatic flavor".

The slightly pointed and indented shape is a useful identifying feature of this variety. In many US climate zones the sunny fall days and cool nights can cause the characteristic dull orange flush to be more red, compared with examples grown in the cloudier climate of the UK.

How to grow

The county of Cornwall experiences mild winters and summers which are warm but not necessarily hot. Cornish Gillyflower has some natural resistance to scab, a disease which likes these conditions. It is a moderately vigorous tree, fairly easy to grow although not especially heavy-cropping.

It is slightly unusual in being a partial tip-bearer - most of the apples are borne on the ends of the previous year's shoots. For this reason it is not a good choice for espalier-training, but is easy to grow in other forms and like all tip-bearers needs little or no pruning.

Advice on fruit tree pollination.

Historical details

Cornish Gillyflower was discovered by Sir Christopher Hawkins near the town of Truro, Cornwall, England and introduced in 1813. The word "gillyflower" or "gilliflower" or "July flower" are corruptions of the French word "girofle" meaning cloves - a reference to the clove-like scent of the blossom of this apple variety.

Cornish Gilliflower characteristics

Using

  • Picking season: Very late
  • Uses: Eating fresh
  • Cropping: Good
  • Keeping (of fruit): 3 months or more
  • Flavor style (apples): Aromatic
  • Fruit persistence: Normal ripening

Growing

  • Gardening skill: Average
  • Self-fertility: Not self-fertile
  • Pollination group: 4
  • Pollinating others: Average
  • Ploidy: Diploid
  • Vigour: Average vigour
  • Bearing regularity: Regular
  • Fruit bearing: Partial tip-bearer

Disease resistance

  • General resistance: Good

Climate

  • Cold hardiness (USDA): (5) -20F / -29C
  • Summer average maximum temperatures: Cool ( 20C - 24C / 68F - 75F) Cold (< 20C / 67F)

Identification

  • Country of origin: United Kingdom
  • Period of origin: 1800 - 1849
  • Fruit color: Green