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'Beauty'-ful News

An apple update to really get excited about!

Dan Bacon of Mason County shared this photo of his Shiawassee Apple graft (2019) and said if it stays healthy, he'll have one for us in 2021!

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10/21/20: Celebrating National Apple Day With A 'Beauty'-ful Update

While learning about the Shiawassee apple (and apples and apple-growing in general) has been a 'here and there' effort over the past five years, I have not yet been fortunate enough to place my hands on an actual Shiawassee Beauty. 

But that could all be changing very soon.

I have made contact with several out-of-town growers in recent years that were able to graft from existing trees (one of which, I was told, exists in Shiawassee County, but whose owner does not want its location disclosed), whom indicated that it would be possible to obtain a tree from them.  One of these growers, Dan Bacon of Mason County, said if his graft continues to grow healthy, he would anticipate making a graft available to us in 2021.

This should be very exciting for anyone interested in local history, especially those apple lovers among us.

Our desire to plant and grow a tree (or trees) locally would be done with the intention of supporting public education about the history of the Shiawassee apple, as well as making its fruit available.

I am very excited about these developments and will be sure to continue to update you when I receive new information.

In the meantime, for your easy reference (and mine), I'm sharing excerpts from some emails that have been sent to the Shiawassee Apple Museum regarding the topic of procuring a tree, fruit or the opportunity to graft.

Happy National Apple Day!  ~ Josh Strickland, Curator

I'm in Mason County I just happen to have a love of apples and wanted all the original Michigan apples, which there aren't many, so I searched and searched found a source for this one. If my graft continues to grow healthy next year I will make another for you in 2021. The scion that I grafted is from Jim Botners collection before he passed, which is now housed at the Temperate Orchard Conservancy. ~ Dan B.

I am an heirloom apple collector in lower Michigan. I have roughly 85 varieties of apples and am trying to locate scion of Shiawassee Beauty. Do you know of a source for scions of this apple? I would trade or buy. ~ Dale A.

The Shiawassee apples that we picked for our single varietal experiment actually came from just one tree at a place called Albion Prairie Farm. The orchard was planted by an apple historian named Dan Bussey. He literally wrote the encyclopedia of apples, and he planted over 100 varieties of mostly antique apples at that location. After a divorce, he sold the place and moved to Iowa to work for Seed Savers Exchange. The current owners of the farm don’t manage the place very actively. They have let us come pick apples for making cider. Since there is only a tree or two of each variety, any commercial batches end up being a blend.  It might be possible to get some Shiawassee scions from the orchard for grafting your own. That would generally happen in late winter or early spring. It’s a little challenging to be certain of identification at that orchard in the winter. They don’t have the trees marked, and you have to read off of an old map that isn’t perfect. They are easier to identify now, when there are apples. Funny enough, I’ll be there today, and I’ll see if I see the Shiawassee tree. ~ Matt R., Brix Cider

I saw on your website that the Shiawassee was in the Bitterroot Valley in Montana. Have you made contact with anyone in Montana? The Bitterroot valley extends from Missoula south for about 70 miles. Missoula is the largest town and other towns include Stevensville and Hamilton. I have a lead on a lost apple that was sold in eastern Washington and was sold to a man who lived in Phillipsburg, Montana. Phillipsburg is separated from the Bitterroot valley by a small mountain range. Eventually I am going to reach out and try to find someone in Phillipsburg (usually I try a local historical society) who might be willing to help me. If I find someone who can help I will ask them if they know anyone in the Bitterroot valley who might be able to help you. ~ Dave B.

Does anyone know where to find scion of 'Shiawassee Apple'? I have small personal orchard I would love to graft this Michigan variety into it as there aren't many native Michigan known varieties and I'd like to have this one. ~ Dan B.

I am a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Minnesota and the Carl von Ossietzky Universität in Germany working on a project connecting the pedigrees of commercially, historically, and culturally important apple cultivars. Through my work, the cultivar Shiawassee Beauty has come up a couple times and I thought it might be useful to analyze a sample of it for my research. Shiawassee Beauty is listed as a parent of a few Canadian cultivars, which in turn may have influenced some of the breeding in Minnesota, which occasionally used Canadian material. Would it be possible for you to mail a leaf sample to me (well, to my colleagues in St. Paul, I am currently in Germany)? If so, please let me know and I can provide information on how to send the sample.   
I must add too that I am very pleasantly surprised and amused to see a fan website for the cultivar, often times I struggle to find additional information about more obscure cultivars and here is a website devoted to one! ~ Nick H.

I, too, lived in Shiawassee County, 1957-2009, and never seen or heard of this apple! Born in Owosso, schooled in Corunna, married and lived in Gaines, moved to Durand; last place was Lennon!  I now want to get my U-PICK farm going in Sault Ste. Marie! I found some Shiawassee apple scion from a professor in Grand Rapids MI! I turned the apple scion over to a professional that grafts fruit trees; he has been doing this kind of farming for over 50 years! He told me that in 2018 I should have about a 1/2 dozen small trees! ~ Robin S.

We have 39 Shiawassee apple trees Beauties that I grafted off a tree in Shiawassee County. We have since left MI for NYS, but the trees are with us and thriving. I was asked not to share the location of the original tree. I promise to return some of these trees or nursery stock to MI when the trees are older. ~ Samantha, Healing Tree Farm

I am wondering if there are any heirloom Shiawassee Apple trees in Shiawassee County and where I could go to take photos of them? ~ Karen E.

According to our information, the Shiawassee Beauty is "virtually extinct". There are two brothers located in Burnips MI who supposedly have about 1 tree in their orchard, but we haven't had updated info from them since 2004, and when they spoke to us then, there was no mention of the Shiawassee Beauty.. so they may not have them anymore. The only person I could find in MI with a SB tree is a small farmer by the name of Tim Stickler. I emailed him, and this is what he told me... He has 1 lone tree. He said the apples have basically been phased out (allowed to go extinct) because that particular variety doesn't keep well at all, doesn't store nicely. He said it is a very fragrant variety though, that smells incredible. He got his scion wood (this is "budwood", new growth that occurs in the spring after pruning in the fall) from the Rynbrandt brothers (brothers from Burnips) in the early 80s. They were 3rd generation orchardists, and their Shiawassee tree was very old. He said he will have a lot of scion wood available if anybody is interested in some for grafting their own trees. He said he also by chance has a few trees this year, on
the very dwarfing EMLA 27 rootstock (rootstock is what determines how tall a tree gets, ELMA 27 is dwarf, which is nice.. makes them easier to manage). He said he is grafting his own collection onto the dwarfing rootstocks so he can plant them inside a vermin-proof enclosure where they will be much easier to take care of, and he has a Shiawassee tree to spare. He also said he would send me his "scion wood list" when I get it updated for this year (basically telling me how much he ended up collecting). He is a professor at Grand Valley, so is based somewhere around Grand Rapids area. ~ Alyssa K., Michigan Dept. of Agriculture

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Wisconsin Cidery Sips Shiawassee Apple

In 2016, Mount Horeb, Wisconsin-based Brix Cider captured and bottled the historic Shiawassee Apple for evaluation and experimentation.

Learn more about these professional cider makers, their experiments and their evaluation of the raw taste of Shiawassee Apple Cider!

Apples in the News



3/11/15: 170th Anniversary of Johnny Appleseed's Death Sees Pioneer Nurseryman Honored As A Social Media Trend

March 11th is believed to be the date Johnny Appleseed (otherwise known as John Chapman) died. March 11th is one of two dates acknowledged as "Johnny Appleseed Day." The other, September 26th, is the date of his birth in Massachusetts in 1774.
As history tells it, after spending time roaming the newly formed nation in the late 1700s, Chapman, along with his father who had served in the Revolutionary War, reunited in Ohio in 1805 and started a family farm.

At some point later, Chapman left the family farm to apprentice for an orchardist, and after learning that trade, set out again, roaming the young nation establishing nurseries of apple trees.
His death is said to have been somewhat sudden, as he was seen in the town of Fort Wayne, where he last resided, just days before his death in 1845. Appleseed was 71.

Commemorating his life and work, 'Johnny Appleseed' spent a portion of March 11th 2015 as a trending topic on Facebook.
Read more about Johnny Appleseed here!

2/15/15: The Appleseed Journal: A Spiritual Message from an Authentic American Hero

Bartonsville, PA, January 29, 2015 – There's more to Johnny Appleseed than meets the eye and Dr. Stewart Bitkoff's new release, The Appleseed Journal, unveils the true story of this American hero, who very few may know was a spiritual man, and further that he went missing in 1843.

Johnny Appleseed is famously portrayed for his impact on growing the apple industry and expansion of his operation throughout the frontier. After a further look at Appleseed and his contributions, we discover that he was quite a spiritual man who ministered throughout his life's journey. The Appleseed Journal is based on actual events and delves deep into the era when Appleseed went missing on the way to a convention at the Church of New Jerusalem in Philadelphia. It's uncertain what happened along the way, but what is certain … he never arrived.
"Johnny Appleseed had a spiritual calling and provided apple seedling, a life staple along the frontier, as part of his work,” says Dr. Bitkoff. "It's rumored that Appleseed planted a message in Hudson Valley, New York so that it could be harvested by spiritual travelers in our time.”

Author of six published books on spirituality, Stewart Bitkoff, holds a doctorate in education and has served as a faculty member for multiple college and universities throughout the US. Dr. Bitkoff is a spiritual traveler and advocate for Sufi mysticism. Additionally, he specializes in therapeutic recreation, psychiatric rehabilitation and mental health treatment. Dr. Bitkoff is a regular contributor to online media outlets such as: Philadelphia Spirituality Examiner, Wisdom Magazine, New Age Journal, and Mystic Living Today.

For more information, visit: www.stewartbitkoff.com.

2/14/15: So, we launched this site on Valentine's Day for people that loooove apples. And history. 

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