Fruit Tree Terms


Acidity is tart and zesty. Tingling sensation that focuses on the front and sides of your tongue.


Natural wax is found on the surface of fruits as small crystals which appear as a powdery bloom to the naked eye. Reflection and scattering of lights on the fruit surface by the wax crystals are responsible for the prominent natural waxy bloom found on fruit surfaces.

Blush - description to indicate a solid rosy colored area, usually the exposed side of the fruit.
Breba - Some figs have two crops in hot climates. The first crop is breba tends to be lower yield.


Budding is a type of grafting. Budding is our primary method used to make new fruit trees that resemble their “parents.” Most all fruity trees do not breed anywhere near true from seed, and to get the exact characteristics of a fruit variety, you need to graft. To propagate a fruit tree of a desired variety, one grafts scion wood of the desired variety onto rootstock. Scion wood is first year growth from a tree with known (and typically, desirable) fruit characteristics. While any wood from the above-ground portion of a tree will carry the genetic identity of the tree, young wood with healthy buds has the best chance of making a successful graft.

Cedar Apple Rust

If your apple trees (Malus spp.) develop cedar apple rust, there's not much you can do this season. In future years, however, knowing how to keep the disease from gaining a foothold on new crops may reduce or eliminate the amount of ruined fruit you harvest. As the name suggests, cedar apple rust most often develops on apple trees growing in the vicinity of cedar trees (Juniperus spp).

Cedar apple rust first appears as shiny orange spots on apple tree foliage. Young fruit have raised orange spots, which turn brown as the disease progresses. By the time harvest time approaches, the fruit lesions are larger and cracked. If your cedar trees are infected, you'll notice golf ball-sized brownish growth that develop spikes in the spring.

It is important to remove any possible host plants growing within 300 yards of your apple trees. Red cedar (Juniperus virginia) is a common host. Additionally, any members of the juniper family are capable of spreading the disease. Other potential culprits that can "catch" the disorder and spread it to apple trees include hawthorn trees (Crataegus spp.) and flowering crabapples (Malus spp.).

Sulfur treatment is considered an organically acceptable preventable treatment for cedar rust disease. Apply it three times during the growing season. The most effective periods to spray are when trees form flower buds, 10 days after the first spray and 10 days after the flowers fall from the trees. Coat upper and lower surfaces of the apple tree's foliage. Spray in the early evening to avoid disturbing beneficial pollinating birds and insects. If you have only a few trees, the sulfur is usually diluted at a rate of 3 tablespoons per gallon If cedar apple rust is a continuing problem, organic fungicides can be applied weekly starting with bud break on apples and crabapples. Fungicide applications are used to protect the tree from spores being released by the juniper host in mid-spring. This occurs only once a year, so additional applications after this springtime spread are not necessary. Rake up and dispose of fallen leaves and other debris from under apple trees. Remove galls from infected junipers. In some cases, juniper plants should be removed entirely.

Organic Orchardist and author, Michael Phillips, advises that bolstering the health of apple trees helps them resist diseases like cedar apple rust. He suggests making sprays from garlic (Allium sativum), stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) or horsetail (Equisetum arvense). All are traditional treatments in the garden and orchard to fight off bacterial and fungal diseases, based on their pathogen-fighting isoflavanoid and terpene content. Garlic sprays may be made by blending cloves with water, straining and decanting in a spray bottle or orchard sprayer. Stinging nettle and horsetail involves filling a 5-gallon bucket with either botanical, covering with water and leaving to steep for at least 24 hours. The resulting solution, once strained, can be applied to apple foliage either full strength or diluted with plain water.

Chill hours 

Chill hours are roughly the number of  hours between the temperatures of 32-45 degrees Fahrenheit. Winter hours above 60 degrees are subtracted from the totals. The idea is that a deciduous plant goes dormant in the cold winter to protect itself from the cold. These buds remain dormant until they have accumulated sufficient chilling hours of cold weather. When enough chilling accumulates, the buds are ready to grow in response to warm temperatures. As long as there have been enough chill hours the flower and leaf buds develop normally. If the buds do not receive sufficient chilling temperatures during winter to completely release dormancy, trees will develop one or more of the physiological symptoms associated with insufficient chilling such as delayed bud break, reduced fruit set and/or reduced fruit quality. We consider varieties rated for USDA Zone 10 or above to be low chill varieties.


Deciduous fruit trees develop their leaves and fruiting buds in the summer. As winter approaches, the developed buds enter a dormant response to both shortening day lengths and cooler temperatures. This dormant stage protects buds from the effects of cold weather. Once buds have started dormancy, they will be tolerant to temperatures much below freezing and will not grow in response to mid-winter warm spells.


Espalier is a tree, shrub, or vine that has been trained as a trellis, fence or wall. Espaliers are ideal for small areas because the training allows the plant to receive maximum air and sun to the plant and the fruit is within easy grasp. Historically, espalier is a training technique developed by ancient Egyptians. Espalier arose from practical concerns; in the cooler climates many fruits were not able to ripen before the onset of winter. Apples and Pears benefited from the radiate heat generated off the south facing walls, which extended the growing season earlier in spring and later into fall. Medieval Europeans popularized espaliers in their gardens by growing many varieties in limited spaces. Espalier became an art form, “botanical architecture” Gardeners began to create interesting two dimensional structures, or living fences.


Fire blight is considered the most devastating bacterial disease of apples and pears. It is caused by a bacterium (Erwinia amylovora) that enters the plant through susceptible tissue, such as flowers, wounds or young growing tips, and the disease cycle starts from there. Infected blooms appear water-soaked and discolored, and it rapidly turns black. If the disease enters twigs, it will move from the tip down, with stem and leaves looking water-soaked then turning brown. The leaves will remain attached to the stem as the stem shrivels and bends at the tip, resembling a shepherd’s crook. The disease moves from the tips into main branches, causing cankers that ooze bacteria. Splashing rain or insects can move the bacterial ooze to new places.

Freestone - A stone fruit in which the pit does cling to the flesh, but breaks free easily.
Fruit spurs - small twigs which contain fruit buds.
Hardiness - ability to withstand cold temperatures.
Oblate - A fruit shaped with flat ends, wider than it's tall.
Pollinizer - The plant cultivar that produces the pollen.
Pollinator -The agent transferring the pollen; bees, flies or wind.
Precocious - Fruit trees that bear fruit at a young age.


Exactly what an heirloom plant is can mean different things to different people. We consider heirloom  fruit trees as varieties that have developed a historical or cultural significance which have been passed from generation-to-generation and often have a local or even familial significance.  There is no hard and fast definition of “heirloom” as we also consider age a determining factor in the “heirloom” designation. We consider an heirloom to be no younger than 60 years old to qualify, because that would ensure its origins are from before WWII, when modern agriculture emerged and varieties began to be patented.

Russet (Reinette) -Reddish brown or yellow brown rough mottled skin on fruit.


Rootstock is wood with established roots, typically from the same species as the desired fruit, or a very closely related one. Rootstock affects tree size, precocity of fruiting, and resistance to soil born diseases. While any seedling can serve as rootstock, fruit tree propagators typically will use wood from varieties bred for particular rooting characteristics.

Scab - dark, corky patches infect developing leaves and fruit. Many scabs scattered over fruit surface.
Scion - bud or branch used for grafting.
Shoots - twigs or branches on current years growth.
Sport - A variety or strain arising from a bud mutation on a previously named variety.
Sprightly - means the acid in the fruit comes through and influences the flavor favorably.
Subacid -Originally meaning "mildly sour , but now referring to flavors that are "slightly sweet" low in acid.
Suckers - Shoots growing from the roots or below the graft union.
Triploid - An apple variety with three sets of chromosomes which have sterile pollen; typically vigorous tree.
Vinous - Wine-like flavor.


Tannin is often confused with  dryness because tannin dries your mouth.  Tannin in apples are the presence of phenolic compounds that add bitterness to a cider. Phenolics are found in the skins and seeds of apples and can also be added to a cider with the use of aging in wood (oak). Tannins taste like a used black tea bag on your tongue. A wet tea bag is practically pure tannin that is bitter and has a drying sensation. Tannin tastes herbaceous and is often described as astringent. While all of these descriptors sound very negative, tannin adds balance, complexity, structure and makes a cider store well.

Water Core

Water core is common especially in arid and semi-arid climates and associated with high fruit maturity. Large fruit, excessive thinning, excessive growth especially in young trees, fruit borne near tips, intense sunlight, can be contributory causes. Most often shows up during hot weather, and is associated with sun scald. Excessive water-supply such as rain or water of irrigation under certain conditions is a significant contributing factor. If an abundance of water is applied just before maturity of the fruit, and if this excess be accompanied by extremes of temperature and atmospheric humidity, the disease is very likely to appear. It’s hard to tell whether a fruit is affected without cutting into it, so you need to sample. Water core increases rapidly in over-mature fruit, but stops once the fruit’s been harvested. If the fruit has severe water core it will still be fine to eat, but use it immediately, as it will not store well.

Water Sprout - Vigorous shoot growing vertically from a scaffold, unproductive and saps energy from trees.

Copyright © 2015 Trees of Antiquity  ::  Powered by Zen Cart  ::  Site Designed and Hosted By WrightWorkx