Newton’s tree plants seeds of inspiration for Apple Day

Apple Day in October celebrates all things autumn and raises awareness of the importance of orchards and traditional fruit varieties to our landscape and culture and in the provenance and traceability of food. So, this is the perfect season to check-in with Science Oxford’s very own Newton Apple Tree project!

Sir Isaac Newton was famously sitting under a tree when a falling apple inspired his revolutionary theories about gravity. Today, seeds from that very same apple tree have been sent to science centres and science museums around the world, even to the International Space Centre with Tim Peake. Our seeds arrived at Science Oxford in 2016 and two of the three have since germinated. Sadly one succumbed to mildew in 2017, but the other is going strong and will be planted at our new Science Oxford Centre at Stansfeld Park, Headington next spring. This means we can grow our very own Newton’s Apple Tree and share the science and the story with school children and the public for years to come.

The apple pips were donated by National Trust’s Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire, the birthplace and family home of Sir Isaac Newton. The original tree dates from the 1600s and is on its third root set of roots but still provides a good crop of apples every year. It’s a ‘Flower of Kent’ apple tree, a traditional variety, which produces cooking apples which are green with a red flush, of varying sizes. We look forward to tasting the flavour of the apples one day, perhaps with an inspiring moment of our own!

This project has been made possible through a partnership with The UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres (ASDC), the national charity that brings together the UK’s major science engagement organisations. Together UK Science centres and museums involve 20 million children and adults every year with science through their hands-on science programmes, schools science programmes and community activities.