Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Malus domestica ‘French Crab’

‘Fruit middle-sized, somewhat globular, about two inches and a quarter deep, and two inches and a half in diameter, perfectly free from angles on its sides. Eye small, almost closed, flat, surrounded by a few very small, angular, crumpled plaits. Stalk half an inch long, slender, deeply inserted, not protruding beyond the base. Skin rather thick, deep clear green, with numerous white dots interspersed; on the sunny side, shaded with a pale livid brown; but the whole becomes yellow with keeping. Flesh very hard, pale green, or yellowish white. Juice not plentiful, sub-acid, with a slight aromatic flavour. An excellent culinary apple, from November till the November following.’ [George Lindley – Orchard guide p.45/1831].



Horticultural & Botanical History

‘This appears to have been an imported variety; it has been known in this country at least forty years, and is sold in many nurseries by the name of French Crab. What this appellation has to do with it, or why it was given, I am at a loss to imagine; since it has no more the appearance of a crab, in any one respect, than any other apple in our collections. Such a misnomer ought to be abolished as most absurd. The name of Easter Pippin was suggested to me more than twenty years ago by the late Dr. Rigby of Norwich, whose high professional acquirements and classical taste, ranked him among the first men of his time.’ [George Lindley – Orchard guide p.45/1831].

‘A culinary apple of first-rate quality, which comes into use in November, and has been known to last under favorable circumstances, for two years. Dry sand is a good article to preserve it in. The tree is very hardy, a free and good grower, and an abundant bearer.

I have not adopted here, the nomenclature of the Horticultural Society's Catalogue, for two reasons. First, because Winter Greening is the previous name, and, so far as I can find, the original one. It is also very applicable, and not subject to the same objection which Mr. Lindley has to French Crab. Second, because there is already in the Horticultural Society's Catalogue, the “White Easter” — the “Paasch Appel,” of Knoop — and the two names being so similar, may tend to confusion, a result of already too frequent occurrence, and most desirable to be avoided. The name Winter Greening is also more descriptive.’ [Hogg p.207/1851].



History at Camden Park

Listed in all catalogues [Apple no.13/1843]. ‘French Crab’ is mentioned twice in William Macarthur’s records.

French Crab.  April-October.  Great.  Excellent for kitchen and for its keeping qualities, not highly flavoured. [Notebook no.9, MP A2948].

French Crab ? [the query is Macarthur’s].  April-October.  An excellent apple for keeping, very reliable for the kitchen, not very highly flavoured. [Diary B, 1862, MP A2951].




The identification of Macarthur’s ‘French Crab (Reinette Francaise)’ is in doubt, although it is probably the apple described here. I have found no record of ‘Reinette Francaise’ used as a synonym of ‘French Crab’ but at least two apples have been called ‘French Reinette’, the apples more commonly called ‘Reinette Franch’ and ‘French Russet’ respectively. [Hogg p.168, p.234/1851].



Published Apr 15, 2010 - 03:14 PM | Last updated Jul 25, 2011 - 04:56 PM

Family Rosaceae
Region of origin

Garden origin, probably France

  • Easter Pippin
  • Winter Greening
  • Claremont Pippin
  • Ironstone Pippin
  • Young’s Long Keeping


Common Name

Apple, Culinary apple, Keeping apple

Name in the Camden Park Record

French Crab (Reinette Francaise)



Confidence level medium