Origin: Originates from London, England, United Kingdom. Introduced 1914.
Appearance: medium to small size. Short round conical, fairly regular, can be a little lopsided. Greenish yellow, flushed deep, blood red with darker indistinct stripes. Skin smooth and slightly greasy.
Taste: It is crisp, juicy and sweet with a light strawberry flavour.
Vigor: Upright spreading, heavy cropping, susceptible to bitterpit.
Background: Merton Worcestor is one of the first apples developed by the John Innes Horticultural Institute, shortly after it was established in the early 20th century with a bequest from John Innes, a London property developer with an interest in horticulture. These apples are all named with the prefix “Merton” after the suburb of south London where John Innes lived and were the institute was originally based.
Merton Worcestor is also probably the most successful of the Merton series of apples, and has been grown commercially on a small scale in England. However, it has never really achieved the commercial success of either its parents – Worcestor Pearmain or Cox’s Orange Pippin. It is probably best considered as an enhanced Worcestor Pearmain because visually and in terms of flavour it is difficult to distinguish from that variety.
If you like Worcestor Pearmain then Merton Worcestor is well worth growing for that reason alone – but it is clear that the aromatic flavours that its developers probably hoped would have been inherited from Cox’s Orange Pippin did not happen.
Interestingly though, the true potential of crossing Worcestor Pearmain with Cox’s Orange Pippin was eventually realized – but it took another generation (both human and apple) to appear. By the 1950s apple research around the world was increasingly focusing on disease resistance and Gavin Brown at the John Innes Institute in Bayfordbury turned to the naturally resistant Merton Worcestor as a starting point.
During the 1950s he developed a new variety derived from Merton Worcestor and called simply “Gavin” – which had excellent resistance to the apple disease scab as a result of some complicated crossings with crab apple varieties. And somehow the aromatic flavour of Cox’s Orange Pippin which is latent in Merton Worcestor now came to the forefront and the promise of Merton Worcestor was at last fulfilled.
Article by Georgia Curry