Saturday, September 12, 2020


                           THE KENTUCKY LIMBERTWIG TREE

          There are many varieties of Limbertwig, most of which originated in the mountains of Tennessee, North Carolina and Kentucky.  Limbertwigs are noted for their “weeping” growth habit due to their thin and “limber” twigs, but are probably most prized for their distinct and unique flavor.  One bite of a Limbertwig will convince you that this is a very special apple. 

          The origins of this hardy apple variety are unknown, but the earliest account can be traced to a 1798 Virginia nursery advertisement that commends its fine taste. 

          It is a wonderful cider apple.   Great for apple butter, jelly and makes wonderful cider.  An excellent keeper.  Medium to large in size.

          The aptly named Limbertwig apple trees droop, willow-like, in the garden, producing aromatic, tasty fruit that keeps well in storage.  No one knows where Limbertwigs originated, but they may have been brought to America in the 1700s.  Considered an heirloom variety of apples, Limbertwigs may be difficult to find.  The tree’s disease-resistance, weeping habit and delicate flowers make it a fine specimen in the home garden.  Not all varieties of limbertwig droop, but all have a similar apple flavor.

          Kentucky Limbertwig apples are medium to large, greenish or light yellow with light red stripes.  The apples taste light and sweet and are ripe for harvesting in October.  This variety originated in the mountains of Kentucky in the 1800s and is good for cooking, mild cider and eating out of hand.

          Limbertwigs are the “quintessential” Southern Appalachian apple. With just a few exceptions, most Limbertwig apples originated within an area encompassing northwestern North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, southwestern Virginia and southeastern Kentucky.

          As southerners migrated to the north and west, they brought the Limbertwig apple variety to regions across the United States. There are more than 50 different strains of Limbertwig which have been described from this regional birthplace. Examples are the Fall and Brushy Mountain Limbertwig from North Carolina; Kentucky and Caney Fork Limbertwig from Kentucky; Myers’ Royal and Buladean Limbertwig from Tennessee; and Levering and Red Limbertwig from Virginia. There are 96 known varities of the Limbertwig. A notable trait of Limbertwig trees is the characteristic weeping growth habit, a physical feature created by the thin, “limber” twigs and branches which becomes more pronounced late in the season when the tree hangs heavy with ripening fruit.  The weeping habit of the tree is most attractive.

          The Smithsonian Magazine has an article about the Limbertwig dated November 2002.  The article can be found here:

Thanks to Janice Brown

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