Skip to Content

The Bramley Apple

Let’s travel across the pond with the Bramley Apple. The United Kingdom is well known for being an apple cultivar hotspot. Many of today’s most popular apple varieties got their start in the UK. The Bramley Apple not only has an exciting history that connects it to the United Kingdom and the United States, but it also has delicious fruit that is great for both recipes and eating raw.

Bramley apples growing on apple trees.
Bramley apples growing on apple trees.

If you’re thinking about planting an apple tree that isn’t just delicious, but has some worldly and historical qualities as well, this apple is exactly what you’re looking for. This guide will walk you through everything from this apple’s storied history all the way to taking care of your new apple tree. 

History of the Bramley Apple Tree 

The Bramley Apple tree has one of the most well-documented histories out of any apple cultivar. Not only do we know who planted the original, we know the full chain of history of the original tree and where it is today.

This tree was first planted in 1809 by Mary Ann Brailsford when she was a young girl in Southwell, Nottinghamshire, UK. Mary Ann Brailsford planted this tree on land near a family cottage. Brailsford sold the land when she got married and, as the story goes, she never got to taste this apple for herself.

The land was bought by a local butcher named Matthew Bramley in 1846. Another local man, Henry Merryweather, asked to take cuttings of the apple tree in 1856 so that he could cultivate and sell them. Bramley agreed, but on the condition that the apples would be named after him. 

This historic tree was knocked down by a storm in 1900, but it was uprighted and started bearing fruit again! This original Bramley Apple tree has produced fruit for over two hundred years. In 2016, this ancient tree was infected with honey fungus. It’s currently being cared for by Trent Nottingham University as they attempt to save the original, historic tree.

There are only a few clones of the original Bramley Apple tree in existence today. Many of the Bramley Apples we enjoy in other places of the world such as Canada, Japan, Ireland, and the United States are newer mutations of the this apple.

Now that you’re a certified Apple historian, let’s learn how to grow a Bramley Apple tree in our backyards. 

Bramley Apple Tree Characteristics

It’s not just an exciting history and delicious fruit that have made the this apple so popular. This apple tree also has some striking characteristics.

The Bramley Apple is considered a heavy branching tree. This creates a unique visual appearance that fits in perfectly with this tree’s long history. This also means you might need to prune a little bit more often, but we’ll get into that later.

Beautiful pink and white Apple Blossoms in Spring.
Beautiful pink and white Apple Blossoms in Spring.

The physical characteristic people notice first about this apple tree is its blossoms. Bramley Apple blossoms range from linen white to bright pink in color. They’re often combinations of the two with beautiful bright pink coloration on white flowers. Some have even said that this tree rivals the cherry blossom for its seasonal beauty. This makes it a stellar choice for home gardeners who are looking to add a little style as well as some delicious fruit to their yards.

If you want to have the style, history, and culinary potential of this apple tree in your yard, you’re going to need to learn how to plant it. 

Planting Zones 

So you’re ready to plant your very own Bramley Apple, but you need to know what climates this tree can tolerate. The planting zones for the Bramley Apple are hinted at by its origins in the United Kingdom.

Our guide on how to grow the apple trees will show you everything you need to know to successfully cultivate this apple cultivar. However, we’ll get to the root of the issue by letting you know this tree does best in planting zones 5 through 7. This means that the Bramley Apple is going to struggle in extremely cold climates as well as hot southern climates. This is a moderate weather tree that will do best in the central and northern regions of the United States. 

Size and Spacing

The Bramley Apple Tree follows the general rule of thumb for spacing all apple trees.

These apple trees have a spread of around 10 to 15 feet. This means that they are going to need slightly more than 10 to 15 feet of space in order to ensure they’re not overcrowding the trees around them. The apple tree can also grow between 10 and 15 feet tall with many of them coming in around 12 feet tall. 

Pollination

The Bramley Apple has a few unique characteristics involving its pollination.

This apple tree is not self-fertile. This means that you’re going to need a pollinator to get the Bramley Apple tree to bear fruit. There are countless varieties of apple trees that would make a great pollinator for it. Potential pollinating partners include: Pink Lady, Granny Smith, McIntosh, and even several varieties of crabapple.

Despite having very attractive flowers, the Bramley has sterile pollen. This means that this tree will not be able to pollinate other apples. You’ll need to make sure that you have one of the Bramley’s pollinating partners nearby in order to ensure you can get a good harvest of apples.

Now that you got a green thumb for planting your Bramley Apple tree, let’s learn how to take care of them. 

Bramley Apple Tree Care

Taking care of your Bramley Apple tree is fairly straightforward. Let’s go over all of the basics for keeping these trees happy and healthy. 

Sunlight

This apple tree has some unique properties when it comes to sunlight. This is a full sun apple tree much like many other varieties of apple. However, the Bramley is also very shade resistant, which makes it a great choice for planting an apple tree in cloudier climates as well as areas with slightly more shade. 

Watering

The Bramley Apple does best in soil that has slightly more clay than average. Like many other apple trees, it requires more watering while establishing and a more moderate approach to watering after that. 

Pruning 

Our full guide to pruning apple trees will give you everything you need to know for keeping this tree in check. Here’s a quick rundown of what you’ll need to know to prune the Bramley Apple tree.

Pruning an apple tree.
Pruning an apple tree.

Since this tree is a heavy branching apple tree, you’ll need to prune more aggressively to ensure that it fruits every season. Pruning should be done at the end of winter or before spring. You can prune throughout the season to handle minor operations like removing damaged or infected branches. 

Diseases & Care 

There’s good and bad news when it comes to diseases and the Bramley Apple tree. This tree is very resistant to both mildew and bacterial infections. However, because of how old this tree is, clones of this tree are particularly susceptible to fungal infections. If you’re looking to plant this apple tree, you’ll need to keep a close watch for any signs of a fungal infection.

Our full guide to the diseases and care of the Bramley Apple tree will give you all the tips and tricks you need to keep these trees happy and healthy. 

Pests 

Bramley Apple trees are grown all over the world. This means that they will face different pests in different environments.

You’ll need to keep an eye out for aphids, beetles, and other insects that go after the leaves and fruit of apple trees. You also want to keep an eye out for the types of beetles that like to infest apple trees. 

Common Uses For The Bramley Apple 

The Bramley Apple has some unique properties when it comes time to cooking the fruit. Here’s a rundown of everything you can do with this apple. 

Bramley cooking apple.
Bramley cooking apple.

What Does The Bramley Apple Taste Like?

Bramley Apples are very large. Their fruit has a sour, almost bitingly tart taste. This makes it an ideal fruit for cooking, baking and making into cider. Bramley’s change their flavor profile as they start to ripen.

Cooking

Traditionally, these apples are either baked in desserts or turned into cider. Their tart taste makes them a great choice for both of these culinary applications. 

Eating Raw

If you let the Bramley Apples ripen on the branch, they will change color and gain pink and red stripes throughout the fruit. At this stage they lose a little bit of their sour edge and become a great choice for eating raw. 

Canning / Freezing / Drying

Bramley Apples are also a great choice for turning into jellies and jams. Both of these are probably the best way to preserve this particular type of apple. While you can freeze or dry the Bramley Apple, that will concentrate its tart taste. 

Recipes to Tame the Sour Bramley Apple 

If you’re looking to take the traditional path, you can always bake these apples into a pie or turn them into nice refreshing cider. If you want to try something a little bit more out of the box, this recipe for apple cinnamon bread and these delicious apple muffins are a great way to take a modern twist on a historic apple. 

Delicious Apple Cinnamon Bread that is great made with Bramley Apples.
Delicious Apple Cinnamon Bread that is great made with Bramley Apples.

Health Benefits of the Bramley Apple 

Apples are an incredibly healthy fruit. They have been associated with better outcomes for immune system health as well as improved heart and digestive health. The Bramley contains 15 mg of vitamin C for every 100 grams of apple. Apples make a great alternative to less healthy processed snacks. 

Where To Buy The Bramley Apple Tree?

There are a few ways that you can buy a Bramley Apple tree.

The most common way is to order a Bramley Apple tree off the internet. There are several online companies that can ship a potted Bramley Apple right to your door that you can transplant into your yard. There are many orchards in both Ireland and the United Kingdom that offer Bramley Apples for sale online. 

Where To Buy Bramley Apples 

Bramley Apples are not a commercially popular cultivar of apple. This makes them a little tricky to find in your local grocery store. This means that you’ll have to consider special ordering your Bramley Apples.

If you’re by some local orchards, you can always get in touch with them to see which apple cultivars they grow. If you’re lucky, you can find a local orchard growing these apples and you can get the fruit fresh off the branch.

Wrapping up The Bramley Apple Tree 

The Bramley Apple tree has an exciting history. It’s a rare occurrence that we get to know every step of an apple tree’s history and have the original apple tree still alive today. When you bite into this apple, you’re taking part in this rich and storied history.

These trees can be successfully grown in most places in North America. Their tart fruit is a great choice for people who love making cider as well as baking apple pie. Letting the fruit ripen on the branch makes for a great snack later in the harvesting season.

At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with planting a Bramley Apple tree in your yard. You’ll be participating in the rich history of cultivating apple trees and you’ll have one of the most beautiful blooming apple trees in your yard. 

The Cameo Apple Tree
← Previous
The Northern Spy Apple Tree
Next →