THE GRANNY SMITH APPLE
The Story of Its Origin
Of locally-grown apples, none is more esteemed than Granny Smith — attractive both in appearance and flavor, and unexcelled as a keeper. Evidence as to its origin has been collected by Mr. H. J. Rumsey, who, on June 25, 1924, contributed an ar- ticle to the N.S.W. "Farmer and Set- tler," in which he wrote as follows: I have recently interviewed Mr. E. H. Small, a retired fruit-grower, now liv- ing at Burwood, and Mr. Harry John- ston, of Dundas, both of whom re- member the original Granny Smith after whom "Granny's apple" was named. Though no actual dates are available, the memories of these two well-known fruit-growers coincide to a remarkable degree on the facts as I am here relating them.
"Granny" was the wife of Mr. Thomas Smith, of that part of Ryde now known as Eastwood, N.S.W. Mr. Smith had an orchard fronting the Great Northern road, down by the creek. One morning, in the year 1868, Mrs. Smith asked the late Mr. E. H.
Small to look at a seedling apple that was growing down by the creek and to express an opinion about it. Mr. T. Small, then a 12-year-old boy, went down with them. The tree was growing among ferns and blady grass down by the creek, and had a few very fine specimens of apple on it. Mr. Small, senior, tested it critically, and remarked that it was a good cooking apple, and might be worth working from, though Mobb's Royal and sev- eral other good cookers seemed to fill the demand at that time. The boy, however, remarked that it was also a good eating apple, too, as he sampled it. Mrs. Smith worked a few of the trees, and not long afterwards Mr.
Edward Gallard, another member of the family, planted out a fairly large bed and marketed a crop annually from then up to the time of his death.
Mr. Small, senior, asked "Granny" how the apple came there, and she replied that she had brought some gin cases back from Sydney Markets
which had contained the remains of
some Tasmanian apples in them; these were rotting and she tipped them out down the creek. It is thought that
Mrs. Smith mentioned that the re- mains in the cases were of French Crabs. The greasy skin and keeping qualities of the "Granny Smith" point to this being correct. There is no evidence as to the length of life of the original tree; in fact, Mr. Small thinks that the whole creek was clean-
ed up not long after the first orchards
from it came into bearing.
"Granny Smith" proved a saleable cooking apple, but its value for dessert was not known until some fruit agents began storing a few cases away, and found that they kept better than any other varieties. Mr. S. W. Webb, of Nana Glen (formerly of Bathurst), has stated, on the other hand, that he was under the impression that the apple in question was raised in the Bathurst district. The matter was lately referred to Mr. A. H. Benson, now Director of Fruit Culture in Queensland, but at one time Fruit Expert in the New South Wales De- partment. Mr. Benson replied as fol- lows:-The history of the Granny Smith apple is as stated by Mr. Rum- sey in the "Farmer and Settler." Al- though this apple was grown to a small extent in the Parramatta River
district when I came to New South Wales in 1892, it was not grown out- side that area to any extent, and I believe that the first planting, other than possibly individual trees, was made by me at the Government farm, Bathurst, in 1895, as I then recognised the value of this variety both for cooking and dessert purposes. The apple was certainly not raised in the
In an article by Mr. Benson in the
N.S.W. "Agricultural Gazette" of August 1895, page 599, entitled "Fruits
to Export and How to Export Them,"
the apple, is referred to as "Granny
Smith's Seedling-a New South Wales
seedling raised from seed of the French Crab near Ryde, on the Parramatta River." The above coincides with the information in the possession of the Fruit Expert Mr. W. J. Allen.