Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Victoria Fowler
Gazette Reporter 

Lost apple rediscovered in Whitman County

 

The Milalyfi is the apple found in Whitman County in 2019 near Pullman.

PULLMAN – The Lost Apple Project has been busy this past year with rediscovering 10 once lost apple varieties, one of these being near Pullman.

With these recent discoveries, the total of rediscovered apples in eastern Washington and northern Idaho is now 23.

The Milalyfi apple, found near Pullman, was found on Rocky Butte, land farmed by Roy Druffel. Druffel is on the Lost Apple Project committee and has been looking at the apples growing on Rocky Butte for the past few years.

David Benscoter, leader of the Lost Apple Project, said the apple Druffel found has great Washington State University connection.

"In the late 1800s Professor Lake of the Agriculture Department participated in a study along with several other colleges to learn if Hungarian apples were hardy enough for the climate of eastern Washington," Benscoter said. "Lake tested a handful of varieties including the Milalyfi. It is amazing that over 120 years later one of these trees was found maybe seven miles away from WSU."

The Milalyfi is one of 20 Hungarian apple varieties that was sent to the Washington State Experiment Station in the late 1800s.

George Ruedy, a nurseryman in Colfax also grew some of the Hungarian apple trees and is likely to have sold the Milalyfi tree which was found about 20 miles from Colfax and five miles from the Washington State Experiment Station in Pullman.

This apple is described to be yellow with a red blush and medium in size.

Benscoter also shared the history of the Sary Sinap, a rediscovered apple in Troy, Idaho. He said this apple was found last summer and tastes great.

"We had never come across an apple this early and tasted this good," Benscoter said. "EJ Brandt, one of our committee members, sent the apples to Joanie Cooper and Shaun Shepherd of the Temperate Orchard Conservancy in Oregon, as they do all our apple identification work. They soon let us know that this apple was the Sary Sinap."

Benscoter said he looked this apple up in one of his books and learned this apple was a Turkish apple. He said he had no record of a Sary Sinap growing in this area and he wondered how an apple from Turkey ended up in Troy.

He said not two weeks later he received a message from a WSU employee stating new records had been found that indicated WSU had more than 500 varieties of apple trees growing on the campus in the early 1900s.

"I went and looked at the records and just after a minute or so my eyes stopped on one entry; the Sary Sinap had been grown at WSU," Benscoter said.

Other apples found this past year included the Gold Ridge near Pomeroy; Givens, Colman, Claribel and Butter Sweet (of Pennsylvania), all found in Latah County; Streaked Pippin found near Waitsburg; Nelson Sweet near Seattle, and Fink near Boise.

According to the Whitman County Historical Society, research indicates more than 250 apple varieties were grown in eastern Washington and at least 25 lost apple varieties could still be growing here.

 

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