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Update September 2018

The tree we believed was Rival has since been identified as Merton Beauty. 

Origin and History

Charles Ross was head gardener to Captain Carstairs of Welford Park in Newbury, Berkshire from 1860 until 1908. He raised Rival in 1900 from Peasgood’s Nonsuch and Cox’s Orange Pippin, after earlier success crossing the same two varieties to create the eponymous Charles Ross. Rival was introduced commercially the same year by Clibrans Nursery of Altrincham, achieving a Royal Horticultural Society Award of Merit and went on to sell well during the 1920s.


The fruit is medium to large in size, flattened at the base and apex and often a little lop-sided in appearance. The skin is pale yellowy-green with a faint orange flush and deeper orange and scarlet stripes. It feels smooth and dry when picked but goes greasy in store. The lenticels are grey and inconspicuous. 

Rival apple

The flesh is considered by some to be the juciest of all the heritage varieties. It is firm and fine-textured, combining some of the flavour of Cox with the sharpness of Peasgood’s Nonsuch. 

Picking, Storing and Using

Rival is a dual-purpose fruit, picked in late September as a dessert apple and then stored for use until Christmas as a cooker. Opinions about its quality when stored vary; some describe it as a good keeper, others say it goes floury.  

Rival blossom

Growth, Flowering and Pollination

The tree is vigorous and spreading and has a strong tendency to crop only every other year. It’s Peasgood’s Nonsuch parentage gives it much better disease-resistance than Cox.


Although Rival is partially self-fertile, it does better with a pollination partner such as Barnack Beauty, Howgate Wonder or James Grieve.

                      Copyright © Karen Meadows 2018 

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