Monty’s Surprise Apple

Ark of taste
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The name of the Monty’s Surprise apple refers to the fact that this unique heritage apple was found growing by chance in New Zealand, along a roadside in Whanganui, along the southern coast of the North Island. The Monty’s Surprise apple grows on a robust tree and bears its large fruit late in the season (April in New Zealand). The fruit’s skin features patterns of red and green when ripe, and the fruit is crisp and tart, suitable for use both as an eating or cooking apple. The fruits can become very large, with some apples reaching over 1 kg each. Because of the size of the fruit, Monty’s Surprise should be pruned each winter to remove any weak branches or poor branch unions that may break or split under the weight of the fruit.  

Testing has demonstrated that Monty’s Surprise appears to contain the effective compounds at inhibiting cancer cell proliferation. The skin of this heritage apple contains the highest levels of total quercetin flavonoid compounds found in the world, and the second-highest levels of total procyanidin compounds. The Central Tree Crops Research Trust, in conjunction with the Central Districts Branch of the New Zealand Tree Crops Association, has played a leading role in locating, identifying and propagating heritage apple varieties. The branch conducted six years of research to evaluate the levels of beneficial compounds in these heritage apple varieties and to compare the results with those of commercial apples.  

Initially found in the Wanganui Region of New Zealand, was collected and distributed as part of efforts to collect and re-popularize old apple types. Since 2006, the Central Districts Branch has grown and freely distributed thousands of Monty’s Surprise apple trees to residents of Wanganui and surrounding districts. While Wanganui has been the starting point, free distributions have been throughout the wider region (to the townships of Waverley and Patea to the north, Ohakune, Raetihi and Taihape to the east, and Hunterville and Marton to the south). Today, some apples are available in local farmers markets, and Monty’s Surprise is being promoted for home consumption, trying to bring back the tradition of people growing this forgotten fruit in their backyard.

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StateNew Zealand