Skip to Content

The Discovery Apple

When people think of England, they first think of accents, soccer, London, and the royal family. However, another thing you should think of next time that England pops into your mind is the Discovery Apple. Discovery apples are unique in the apple world for several reasons that we’ll dive into shortly. Suffice it to say, however, that the discovery of the Discovery has been a fruitful one!

Chances are, this isn’t an apple most people are familiar with on this side of the pond. So keep reading to discover all you’ll need to know about why you’ll want to try the Discovery apple!

Closeup of a single Discovery apple on a tree.

History of the Discovery Apple

Discovery apples were first discovered in Essex, England, in 1949 by a man we only know as Mr. Drummer, a workman on an Essex fruit farm. The apple was first called Thurston August, but it was later renamed Discovery in 1962. Discovery is the product of a cross between the Worcester Pearmain and another variety that’s not fully known. There are some, however, that attribute the second parent as Beauty of Bath.

At any rate, Discovery is one of the most popular apples ever to come out of England. A big reason for this is that it produces some of the earliest season apples in the world. Unlike most apple varieties that can’t be harvested until mid to late fall, Discovery apples are harvested in August and September. This makes it very appealing to American supermarkets as well. Additionally, Discovery received an Award of Garden Merit in 1993 from the Royal Horticultural Society.

Characteristics of the Discovery Apple

Aside from being an award-winning and early harvesting apple, Discovery has one of the most beautiful colors of any apple variety. Discovery is flushed with bright blood red with slight traces of dark red stripes. Its flesh is creamy white, firm, fine-textured, and juicy. The only real downside of Discovery apples is that they don’t last very long. Once you pick them, they only stay fresh for a week or so before they start to soften.

Discovery apples are small-medium in size, with small patches of yellow in addition to their blood-red color. Occasionally, the blood-red skin can seep into the flesh and give it a pinkish color on the outer edges. Discovery is often regarded as an excellent apple for home growers because it’s relatively resistant to diseases and low maintenance.

Cluster of Discovery apples on a tree.

Flavor Profile

Discovery apples have a sweet if not slightly acidic taste. Most notably, however, they have a distinct strawberry flavor unique to them. Overall, Discovery doesn’t overpower the taste buds but is rather subtle.

Discovery Apple Pairings

Discovery is a great dessert apple that won’t overpower the senses and is best when eaten fresh off the tree. They also make an excellent resource for apple juice, applesauce, and apple cider. The best time to eat Discovery is right after you pick it off the tree because they don’t last long.

Apple slices topped with a cranberry-nut cream cheese spread.
A cranberry-nut cream cheese spread would be a great pairing for Discovery apples!

Cooking With This Apple

Because Discovery doesn’t have a ton of flavor, it isn’t typically used in cooking or baking. Cider, sauce, juice, and eating them raw are the best way to enjoy Discovery.

Health Benefits of Apples

Apples are notoriously packed with outstanding health benefits. Discovery apples are rich in polyphenols, resveratrol, and other healthy compounds to get your cholesterol levels, blood sugar, and fiber intake under control. Here are some of the other health benefits of apples.

How to Grow Your Own Discovery Apples

If you’re looking to add the Discovery apple to your home orchard, there are some important things that you should be aware of. They’re are grown in much the same way that most other apple varieties are. However, let’s go over some of the specific details — for a comprehensive guide, read our post about growing apple trees.

A cluster of Discovery apples espaliered in an orchard.

Size

When your apple tree matures, it will be approximately 12 to 15 feet tall and equally as wide. The fruits themselves are large in comparison to other apples.

Spacing

The best way to space your trees is to plant them 12 to 15 feet apart, equal to the full-grown size of the tree. This way, they will be tight together but still have room to blossom when full-grown.

Pollination

Discovery apples, like most apples, are not self-pollinating. They typically require cross-pollination with another variety in order to flourish. Here are some of the best options for crossing with Discovery.

  • Annie Elizabeth Apple
  • Braeburn Apple
  • Christmas Pippin Apple
  • Eden Apple
  • Golden Delicious Apple
  • Herefordshire Russet Apple
  • Howgate Wonder Apple
  • Lord Derby Apple
A bee pollinating apple tree blossoms.

Hardiness Zone

Like most apples, Discovery is best acclimated for hardiness zones 4 through 9.

When To Plant

If you live in cooler climates with cold winters, you should plant your apple tree in the spring. If you live in warmer climates where the temperature doesn’t drop below freezing very often, you should plant it in the fall. Don’t be surprised if it takes several years for your newly planted tree to produce any fruit.

When to Harvest

Discovery is unique in its harvest time as apples can be picked starting in the middle of August or early September. However, the tree will continue to produce fruit that’s ripe for picking into late October or when the first frost hits.

Discovery Apple Tree Care

Taking care of your apple tree is paramount to its success. Minneopa Orchards has a complete guide for apple tree care that you can visit and get all the information you need. Here are some specific care guide ideas for the Discovery.

An apple tree with lots of red apples.

Pests

Like all apple trees, there are a number of pests that you should be on the lookout for that will try to steal your fruit from you. Here is a guide to protecting your trees and fruits from nasty pests.

Diseases

Discovery has excellent all-around pest and disease resistance and is a good choice if mildew or scab is a problem in your area. If anything is going to cause problems with this variety, it is most likely to be aphids. Here is a list of the other apple tree diseases you should be on the lookout for.

An apple tree branch suffering from fire blight disease.
Fire blight, a common apple tree disease.

Pruning

Diligently pruning your apple tree is essential to its successful growth. This is especially important for Discovery apple trees, which are much more productive when pruned religiously.

Where To Buy The Discovery Apple

Discovery apples can be purchased at many English farmers’ markets, fruit stands, and even select grocery stores. Or, you can purchase your apple seeds to plant from Ashridge Nurseries in the UK.

Wrapping Up the Discovery Apple

Closeup of bright red Discovery apples on a tree.

If you’re in the market for an award-winning and juicy delight, look no further than the Discovery apple. Discovery might be a product of England, but its qualities and delightfulness are as American as they come. Take the plunge and sample a Discovery apple today!

Have you discovered the joys of growing a Discovery apple tree in your garden? Or have you made the discovery of where to buy these apples? If so, tell us all about it in the comments section below! To read about other apple varieties, click here for our apple blog posts.