Lady Apple, or Api, is a small apple with a strong pleasant aroma and rich aromatic flavor.
Throughout its history Lady Apple has been associated as much with decoration and adornment as with the normal eating and cooking uses of apples. There are records of it being used to freshen or mask unpleasant odours, and even as a pattern for refined ladies to powder their noses. Victorian author Robert Hogg quotes a contemporary calling it "Une pomme des damoiselles et de bonne compagnie" - an apple for ladies and good company.
The tree is a heavy cropper and branches laden with apples can be used as wreaths.
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Lady Apple is a small tree, but it bears heavily. The combination of weak vigor and heavy-cropping is a recipe for biennial bearing - fruiting only in alternate years. If you notice this tendency developing try to thin the fruitlets heavily in the "on" year to reduce the crop, which will prevent the tree exhausting itself and ensure a crop the following year.
Advice on fruit tree pollination.
Although often known as Lady Apple in North America, this variety originated in France, where it is called Api, and where several related varieties are also known.
It is clear that Api is a very old apple. Some authorities have speculated that Api is a variety known in Roman times as Appius or Appia. However both the Victorian pomologist Robert Hogg and Joan Morgan in her New Book of Apples question this.
More certain records suggest that Api is a seedling variety originating from the Forest of Api in Bretagne in western France some time before the early 17th century. It soon became popular in France, England, and the United States - and according to Hogg large quantities were imported from the United States back to England in Victorian times under the name Lady Apple.