[NAFEX] A historical question

John Henderson jhenderson at ithaca.edu
Sun Apr 19 22:02:59 EDT 2009

It seems pretty clear that both seeds and scionwood were brought over by 
different emigrants. I know some history of one apple tree that has some 
documentation. There has been some speculation about whether the Rambo 
(Winter Rambo, not Summer Rambo) was brought over from Sweden in 1641 by 
Peter Gunnarsson Rambo as a seedling, thus making it a Swedish tree, or 
if he brought over only apple seeds. Helpful information is found in an 
addenda of notes to a supplementary diary published as an appendix to 
Peter Kalm's /Travels in North America/, that was first translated into 
English in 1937. In an entry on the early Swedish settlers, Kalm reports 
on a conversation with Peter Rambo, grandson of Peter Gunnarsson Rambo, 
on 30 January 1749. The grandson told him that the elder Peter Rambo 
brought "apple seeds and other tree and garden seeds" with him in a box. 
The first written documentation for the Rambo apple is not until William 
Coxe's 1817 treatise "In A view of the cultivation of fruit trees, and 
the management of orchards" in which he writes, "This apple is much 
cultivated in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New-Jersey; taking its name 
from the families by whom it was introduced into notice." Therefore the 
Rambo apple could have come after several generations of plantings and 
orchard development. There is a long history of confusion between the 
Rambo and Rambour apples, but they are not related. The Summer Rambo was 
originally called the Rambour Franc, and was available in colonial 
America about as earlly as the Rambo. Based on its genetic similarity to 
the Rambour d'Ete found in France, scionwood must have been brought over 
in colonial times.

John Henderson
Sage Hen Farm
Lodi, NY

nafex-request at lists.ibiblio.org wrote:
> Date: Sun, 19 Apr 2009 19:12:42 -0300
> From: david.maxwell at dal.ca
> Subject: [NAFEX] A historical question
> To: North American Fruit Explorers <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Message-ID: <49EB77AA.19454.AB497C at david.maxwell.dal.ca>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
> Does anybody have any solid evidence regarding the introduction of apples to North 
> America?  Malus malus is not native to America, and was introduced from Europe by the 
> early settlers.  Now here is the question: did they simply plant seeds, and grow seedling 
> apples, or did they bring the old world varieties with them?   Beech  says, "Some few brought 
> trees or scions of choice varieties, but more followed the less expensive plan of bringing 
> seeds of selected fruits to plant about their new homes."  This, of course, ignores the fact 
> that planting seeds of "selected fruits", (at least, selected apples) would not have yielded 
> them trees of their "choice varieties".  He goes on to mention that Governor Endicott's apple 
> tree was "stated to be a seedling", but "possibly the earliest recorded grafted tree brought 
> from Europe was the Summer Bonchretien of Gov. Stuyvesant brought in 1647 in New 
> Amsterdam., (which stood at the intersection of Third Ave. and 13'th St. in New York until it 
> was broken down by a dray in 1866).  
> Nicolas Denys, who accompanied Simon de Razilly in 1632, establishing the first capital of 
> New France at the mouth of the LaHave River in modern-day Nova Scotia, recorded in 1635 
> details of the priest's garden: "He also had some apple and pear trees which were well 
> started and very fine, but not yet in condition to bear, since they were brought small from 
> France."  Certainly my interpretation of this is that he was importing grafted trees, almost 
> certainly of named varieties.  (Nobody is going to bother importing seedlings, unless they 
> wanted to get a head start on growing their own in the new world, knowing that there weren't 
> any waiting for them in America.)  Certainly varietal apples were well known in Europe, and 
> my understanding is that the appples grown there were generally grafted varietals rather than 
> wild seedlings.  It makes sense to me that the settlers would have brought with them the 
> same methods of apple culture they used in Europe, rather than reverting to wholesale 
> sowing of random crosses of wild apples.
> Any evidence?

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