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A new variety of apple has been discovered by a nature lover while he was out running.
Archie Thomas, from the Nadder Valley in Wiltshire, came across across a windfall apple on a wooded trackway near his home earlier this month.
Experts have confirmed the “highly unusual” fruit, which “tastes quite good”, is a new variety, which Mr Thomas hopes to propagate and name.
“It is unlike any apple I’d seen before,” he said.
Mr Thomas, who works for wild plant and fungi conservation charity Plantlife, said the fruit came from a lone old apple tree in a hedgerow.
“While I am certainly no fruit expert, it immediately struck me as highly unusual, unlike any apple I’d seen before,” he said.
“Excited by the pale and mottled oddity, I set about trying to get it identified with a view to perhaps one day being able to name it.
“That was the dream, but I did half suspect it would turn out to be something much less exciting than it is.”
Mr Thomas sent examples to the Royal Horticultural Society’s fruit identification service at RHS Wisley.
The RHS’s Jim Arbury said the fruit was not a planted cultivar, but a new variety which Mr Thomas could propagate and name.
“It is a very interesting apple. It is clearly not a planted tree, but a seedling that could be a cross between a cultivated apple and a wild Malus sylvestris, a European crab apple,” Mr Arbury said.
“It tastes quite good. It’s a cooking apple or dual purpose – you can eat it.”
Mr Arbury said the tree from which the apples came could be more than 100 years old and was not the result of a dropped modern supermarket apple.
Apple trees grown from seed are all different, so cultivated varieties, or cultivars, are propagated by taking cuttings from existing trees and grafting them on to rootstock to ensure the new tree and its apples are the same.