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Monday, 17 February, 2003, 18:25 GMT
Island sells out of apple trees
Ian Sturrock trimming the Bardsey apple tree
Ian Sturrock discovered the rare variety by chance
The first batch of trees grown from a unique variety of apples found on a holy island off the Welsh coast have completely sold out.

The variety discovered on Bardsey Island on the tip of the Llyn Peninsula is said to date back 1,000 years and has been called the "rarest apple in the world".

We could not put a name to it ... who would wish it to be anything other than the Bardsey apple?"

Dr Joan Morgan, fruit expert

Two years ago, only one gnarled tree remained from what may have been an orchard belonging to monks who lived on the island from the 13th century.

The Bardsey island trust grew 175 new Afal Enlli (Bardsey Apple) trees from cuttings of the old tree and sold them all for 15 each.

Two were snapped up by the Museum of Welsh Life in St Fagans.

Unique

Museum Estate Manager, Andrew Dixie, said the trees would be planted at St Fagans for ornamental purposes.

"We bought them simply to preserve the variety, which appears to be unique, as part of our heritage," he said.

Orchadist Ian Sturrock, who lives in Bangor, is credited with making the discovery after a chance conversation on a visit to Bardsey.

Apple tree

He was shown the apples by an ornithologist friend who was using them to lure birds.

They are described as pink, lemon-scented fruit which are juicy and refreshing.

Not recognizing the fruit, he sent a sample to the Brogdale Horticultural Trust in Kent where it was declared a completely new variety by fruit expert, Dr Joan Morgan.

"The apples were boldly striped in pink over cream, ribbed and crowned," she said.

"We could not put a name to it - and who would wish it to be anything other than the Bardsey apple?"

Brogdale is the home of the national fruit collection with more than 2,000 different varieties from all over the world.

The Bardsey apple has now been added to the collection.

Bardsey climate

Mr Sturrock, who rejuvenates trees for a living, has propagated his own Bardsey trees which are already bearing buds at his home.

This tree probably survived because it grew sheltered

Ian Sturrock, orchadist

"We won't know until the first fruit appear whether the variety can survive in a different climate to Bardsey's which is quite mild," he said.

"My trees here are likely to bear the first Bardsey apples on the mainland, but that will take a few years.

Mr Sturrock's ideas for developing the Afal Enlli phenomenon further in aid of the Island's trust include producing Bardsey apple juice.

The near-barren island, where legend has it that 20,000 saints are buried, has very few trees because of the wind and salt-spray from the sea.

"This tree probably survived because it grew sheltered by a recess in the wall of Plas Bach, where Lord Newborough stayed when he visited his property," said Mr Sturrock.

Dick Loxton from the Bardsey Island Trust who has been responsible for selling the trees from Glynllifon near Caernarfon said anyone else wanting to buy a Bardsey apple tree would now have to wait until next year.


More from north west Wales
See also:

06 Nov 00 | Wales
16 Jul 99 | Entertainment
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