I got some Martha crabapple scions from the HOS scion fair a few years ago and grafted them into my aronia bush. THey fruited but were bitter. THen I got some more this year and they were still very bitter. Has anyone else around here grown Martha crab and was the taste bitter? I wonder if the scion was mislabeled.
I'm not familiar with the 'Martha' crabapple. What is it supposed to taste like? Is this a local or regional variety? A person can usually find information for countless apple varieties online or in the literature, but there are surprisingly few photos or descriptions of crabapples to be found.
John -- A stack of journals, boxes of seeds, etc., fell over the other evening and when I was putting it back in order I found my missing Fruit, Berry, and Nut Inventory (4th Ed.). I've been looking back through it and found the 'Martha' entry:
"Malus baccata seedling. Bright rose-red fruit with numerous light dots and some striping. Coarse, crisp, yellowish flesh. Juicy and delicious. Fresh eating, jelly, jam. Annual bearer. Extremely long-lived tree. Hardy to Zone 3. Introduced by Peter Gideon, Elcelsior, Minnesota, 1839." The only source listed was Botner's collection.
Does the fruit description sound right? "Fresh eating" suggests that the fruit would be more than "palatable"... perhaps a bit tart, but one wouldn't expect bitter. I wonder whether grafting on Aronia might have had any effect on the fruit (--which I doubt--), or perhaps the developing fruits didn't get enough sun or warmth to sweeten?
I agree with you that it is extremely unlikely that the aronia did it. I have grafted many fruits to aronia and the flavor on each was good. Your description makes it sound very different than what I have harvested. My best guess is that the variety I grafted is not Martha-perhaps a deservedly unknown variety that will hopefully disappear into the great uncatalogued, nondescript void from which it came.
Hah! I enjoyed the "deservedly unknown"! I'm curious though about how many different things you have grafted onto Aronia. Back in the early '80s when I first tried some experimental grafts, I made a few out of curiosity to see what might be compatible. Some were compatible; some weren't. I enjoyed learning by actual observation (--as opposed to that there "book learnin' ". In recent times I've pretty much stuck with recommended rootstocks for various things, but I may do more experimental intergeneric grafts in the future.
I must have been in Junior High when I first saw grafting being practiced. My family lived back in the midwest at the time, but my grandparents and most relatives lived in southern California. During the summer it was nice if we could take a little vacation out west and see them all. I remember being with Grandpa Chet in his garden and small orchard in Upland CA (on half-a-lot adjacent to their house) and and saw him engaging in some kind of delicate operation on a tree branch. He explained that he was grafting a different variety of apricot onto that particular tree. Hmmm. Stuck with me.
Sure wish Grandma and Grandpa were still around. I could have learned so much more from them!
Grafted onto aronia that I remember: Mountain ash, many apples, many pears, shipova. Mountain ash is still alive many years later. Pears took better than apples and have lasted longer. Some are still fruiting lo these many years later.