marcher apple network members



If you have apples that you would like MAN to identify for you, particularly if you live in or near the Welsh Marches region or think the varieties come from this region, please do send them in!

Identification has traditionally been by morphological description: visual inspection of the characteristics and tasting it, assessing texture, and, for cookers, sometimes how it cooks.

This is a very important part of MAN’s work and can lead to discovering lost varieties.

NFC, fruitID project for aiding identification by DNA Analysis

Over the four years this project of fingerprinting fruit has been running, it has transformed the confidence we have in identification.

It has been led by fruitID, with careful analysis at East Malling Research and final oversight by the Curator of the NFC.  A signal gain has been bringing orchard groups closer together throughout the UK and Ireland.

DNA Fingerprinting Services East Malling Research

East Malling Research  East Malling Research have a long track record carrying out DNA SSR fingerprint analysis for the NFC, commercial organisations and Agriculture.

Each sample sets are sent by users to EMR in bags only marked with a code number for ensuring work is carried out ‘blind’.   QC has been greatly aided by their extensive in depth knowledge of the methodology, collaboration with NFC over many years and access to data not publicly available.

Discovered Varieties

Since 1993 46 varieties of old dessert, cooking and cider apples have been re-found.  More often ‘lost’ varieties have surfaced by visitors bringing in unknown apples for identification at Apple Day events.

Identification can be a lengthy process and involve taking scions from an old tree and grafting young ones that can be grown on and studied in one of our museum orchards.

We are still on the look out for interesting ‘new’ finds…

DNA Analysis

The technical basis for DNA SSR fingerprinting is quite complex yet intriguing.  Here we give a user view of the process, DNA biochemistry and the methodology employed in cutting out and analysing DNA fragments.

An excellent description can be found under ‘DNA scheme’ and ‘resources’ at

Relationship of Triploid Varieties

There are 391 genotype triploid varieties in Explorer v6.15. These were studied following the methodology of Ordidge et al. and Muranty et al. A total of about 70 triploids were found that include the entire fingerprint of a diploid variety, these are likely the (maternal) gamete. Twenty four of these may have a haploid gamete (paternal parent) also identified. There are about 40 orphaned triploid siblings in 15 families each of which have in common an (unknown) diploid gamete. Photographs, usually those from the National Fruit Collection, are included for enabling comparison of morphological similarities within these families; where available provenance data is included.


Once we’re pretty sure about the identity of an apple, we submit it for peer review by expert pomologists for accreditation to the ‘Register of Local Cultivars’.

This is the final accolade sealing the name as authenticate.

…. Unless new information or insights come along!

DNA Parentage Investigation

While the DNA fingerprinting method is primarily useful in aiding identification, there have been suggestions it can confirm or refute possible parentage of a variety.  The latter is true, whereas identifying parents is much less certain, ‘it depends’ is the best answer.

Here we share our investigation of 1400 varieties for finding the strengths and weakneses, and getting some fascinating results too.

Bunyard ID Classification Tables

Here are the updated versions of these classic tables.

DNA Sibling Investigation

We had a look at whether DNA fingerprints can identify or confirm whether varieties are siblings. Probably seldom, though sometimes we can spot that varieties are closely related. An unexpected outcome was that at least some of the non-functional genetic material probed by the twelve marker-pairs is subject to selection pressures, intentional or otherwise.