Black Gilliflower


Why you should be excited

Black Gilliflower is an old U.S. apple variety that some people think was one parent of Red Delicious.

The story of Black Gilliflower

I must admit that I prefer the alternative name for this variety that was once popular in the U.S. northeast -- Sheepnose -- and the name of the southern U.S. variety that some say is the same apple -- Crow's Egg -- to the slightly less evocative and more conservative-sounding Black Gilliflower.

Whatever you call it, this relatively obscure apple first became known somewhere around the early 1700s and is best remembered for its distinctive flavour -- it's considered by many to be an acquired taste -- and the widely held theory that this is one of the parents of the once-ubiquitous Red Delicious.

But don't hold that association against Black Gilliflower, which is an oblong-shaped apple that exudes the character of 18th century Connecticut.

Black Gilliflower Facts

Its origins

Unknown origins, likely in Connecticut, USA, early 18th century.

Flavour, aroma, texture

The dryish, coarse and tender flesh has a distinctive aroma and flavour with a hint of sweetness. Some love it, others not so much.


Medium to large in size, this oblong-shaped apple (shaped like a sheep's nose, some say) has a dull, dark-red skin that sometimes verges on black.

When they’re available

Late season (usually in mid-October).

Quality for fresh eating


Quality for cooking


Quality for cider

Was used in cider back in the day, as were virtually all apples. It's not ideally suited to cider, due to its relative dryness.

Keeping ability

So-so (about a month when kept refrigerated).