The Chimera Apple

Apr 8, 2014

What’s up with this apple?

No, it hasn’t been photoshopped and isn’t the result of some freaky genetically modified experiment. It’s called a chimera apple (pronounced shimera) and it’s a real and rare thing that happens when grafted fruit trees try to revert back to be their original type because of the genetic instability. I know, it’s totally wild.

Apple-2Mel Staples with THE apple. Image from ABC Tasmania.

It’s so incredibly rare that the odds of it actually happening are literally more than a million to one. So we think it’s pretty amazing that the apple you can see above is from Greg and Mel’s garden in little ol’ Kingston around 15 minutes south of Hobart, where we live.

The term chimera describes;

a) any mythical or fictional animal with parts taken from various animals, or

b) anything composed of very disparate parts, or perceived as wildly imaginative or implausible. Like this cat for example – the mind boggles.

Twoface_chimera_cat

We were lucky enough to get invited to Mel and Greg’s home for the apple TASTING. After one month of constant radio and newspaper attention they had decided it was time to crack it open… And we got to be there, for which we are eternally grateful.

2014-03-30 10.08.09

Mel and Greg’s home overlooks Kingston beach where they have a small yet very beautiful and productive garden. They’re not sure which apple tree the chimera apple actually came from as their son harvested the apples and didn’t notice it at the time. They do know that it came from one of the two dwarf heritage apple trees they planted on their verge (just outside their fence line) for the community and themselves to enjoy. The exact variety of the apple trees is also unknown as they rescued them from a local parkland where they were being vandalised.

Apple treesThe chimera apple came from one of these two dwarf heritage apple trees.

Greg + Mel

    Greg and Mel, enjoying their last moments with the apple before eating it.

_46444745_applebbc226

 Ken Morrish, 2009. Image from diditarena.blogspot.com.

The last known occurrence of a chimera apple was in 2009, UK where Ken Morrish discovered this beauty while he was harvesting from Golden Delicious tree. Apparently he had neighbours cuing up to his gate for weeks on end to take photos and make sure it was real.

apple cutting

Crunch time: After admiring this rarity we finally got down to business.

DSC_0207

I’m pretty sure everyone was holding their breath at this point. Sorry for the fuzzy photos, at this stage I was way too excited to concentrate on taking a half decent photo.

DSC_0208

I was kind of hoping that there would be some colour differentiation inside the apple as well. I mean, I knew  it was super unlikely, but I really wanted it to happen.

2014-03-30 10.18.49

We also spent ages tasting each side of the apple with our eyes closed to see whether the sides tasted differently. Greg swears that he could detect a difference, but no matter how much I wanted to – I couldn’t.

hannah.1Big thanks to Mel and Greg for inviting us over for this once-in-a-life-time opportunity and letting us do daggy photo shoots with their apple – we had a lot of fun.

 *Your blogger is Hannah Moloney, co-director of Good Life Permaculture and lover of all things garden-esk.

your thoughts:

7 Comments

  1. Geoff

    Is it really that rare? I just found one in a barrel of ‘pink ladies ‘ in Cairns and took a photo, didn’t buy it.

    Reply
    • Hannah Moloney

      They are rare indeed – nice find Geoff!

      Reply
  2. Karen

    I bought a chimera Apple at the grocery store in 2015. I took 4 pictures is like to share with you, but I can’t figure out how to load them

    Reply
  3. Dr. Ernest H. Williams Jr.

    What were the localities of Geoff’s and Karen’s chimera apples? Can you give me their last nnames? Do you know the variety of Karen’s apple? I am working on a summary of chimeras in apples. Any other cases and/or photos would be useful and credited. Thank you.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You might also like…

Reo Mesh Garden Arches

Reo Mesh Garden Arches

I'm a big fan of reinforcement mesh (aka reo mash) as a material to use for making simple and super strong and versatile structures for plants to grow on. I'm always keeping an eye out for scraps of the meh at our local tip shop, alas it's highly sort after. So...

Verticillium Wilt In Your Fruit Trees? Bugger.

Verticillium Wilt In Your Fruit Trees? Bugger.

Over the past few years I've been trying to figure out what's wrong with my two apricot trees as they've never really thrived. Symptoms included not fruiting well, sparse leaf and dead wood starting to appear in the canopy branches. Finally this year while we were...

How To Make Yacon Syrup

How To Make Yacon Syrup

I grew Yacon/Peruvian ground apple (Smallanthus sonchifolius) for the first time this past season and I'm a huge fan. I scored the tubers from a fellow keen gardener, Matt, who lives around the corner from me. He popped a few tubers in my hand and I popped them in my...

Home Harvest 2023: Host Call Out!

Home Harvest 2023: Host Call Out!

We’re happy to announce we’re working with Eat Well Tasmania and Sustainable Living Tasmania to hold our fourth annual “Home Harvest” garden tour in the nipaluna/Hobart region!  Special thanks to the City of Hobart for funding this great initiative. Home Harvest is going to be a one day event on Sunday March 19th, 2023 in and around nipaluna/Hobart where […]

Crowdsourcing Photos For My New Book!

Crowdsourcing Photos For My New Book!

Hi Friends, I’m in the process of writing my second book about how to grow food in any climate in Australia (due out late 2023 with Affirm Press). As it’s covering the whole, vast country I would so very dearly love to include photos of edible gardens in different climates to show folks what’s possible […]

Mounding Potatoes – Or Not

Mounding Potatoes – Or Not

There are many varieties of potatoes (aka spuds) but only two key categories they all fall into. Determinate and indeterminate. Determinate potatoes don’t grow very tall and only produce spuds in one layer of soil so you don’t need to mound them. They also generally mature quicker than indeterminate types, a good thing to know […]

Eat Those Weeds

Eat Those Weeds

I’m a big fan of eating weeds. But first, what even is a weed? A common description is that it’s simply a plant in the wrong place – meaning us humans don’t want it there as it may be compromising the ecological integrity of that place or crowding other plants we want to thrive. But […]

How To Grow Food From Scraps

How To Grow Food From Scraps

As I have a large garden and the luxury of space, I don’t usually make time to experiment with growing food in tight spaces. But I’ve always been curious about growing food from scraps. So I made the time – thank you curiosity. I saved some scraps from going straight into the compost bin and […]

Vote For Gardening Australia!

Vote For Gardening Australia!

Hello Dear Friends, I have two bits of exciting news to share with you, which can be summed up with Costa’s (host of Gardening Australia) gorgeous smile below… After being a guest presenter on Gardening Australia since 2019, I recently became an official permanent member of their team. Oh the joy!!! This is very exciting […]

Home Harvest 2022

Home Harvest 2022

We’ve just wrapped up our third Home Harvest. It was so good that I’m sharing it with you here. But first, what even is it?? Funded by the City of Hobart and supported by Eat Well Tasmania and Sustainable Living Tasmania, Home Harvest is a one day self guided edible garden tour around the nipaluna/Hobart […]