Newton’s apple lives on across the ditch

Auckland Botanic Gardens will soon have trees in its orchard that originate from the original Isaac Newton apple tree reports Commercial Horticulture in its December issue.

Yes, that tree! The tree that Isaac Newton was sitting under in the garden of Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire in northern England back in 1666 when he developed his theory of gravitation as he saw an apple fall from the tree (or indeed as the story goes, had an apple fall on his head).

The trees were gifted by the Wellington Botanic Gardens, which had propagated them from cuttings taken from trees growing at the old Department of Scientific and Industrial Research grounds at Gracefield in Lower Hutt.

Those historic trees themselves have a distinguished pedigree. They were obtained by UK/NZ physicist Sir Ernest Marsden (1889-1970) from the Woolsthorpe tree and were brought to New Zealand.

The variety appears to be very similar to one known as ‘Flower of Kent’, now an old and rare cultivar. Thought to have originated in France it has been described as a cooking apple of inferior flavour. The tree at Woolsthorpe continues to survive and has been dated to 400 years of age.

For those wondering whether Australia has a tree of similar pedigree, it has been reported that cuttings from a tree originally grown at Highett in Melbourne were from Newton’s apple. They were taken by Bob Dunkle in 1977. The cuttings were planted at the CSIRO’s Clayton site in Victoria in 2017 after Dunkle’s original tree failed to survive transplanting from Highett to Clayton.

Read more at The Newton Tree on the CSIRO website. Anyone who knows of any other Newton apples or has seen the apple at Clayton, please send an update to the HMAA website.

Leave a Comment