• Beth & Tim Manners

Clemson Grafts Newton’s Apple Tree

Updated: Sep 19, 2019

Clemson: “Over the years, several dozen descendants of the Newton Apple Tree have been planted around the globe on the grounds of universities, research centers and even in botanical gardens. The next location lucky enough to claim this living piece of scientific history is the main campus of Clemson University with … the planting of a grafted clone of the Newton apple tree in a patch of soil surrounded by three buildings – Kinard Laboratory of Physics, and Martin and Long halls – that are teeming with scientists.”


“The story of Sir Isaac Newton and the apple tree first began to blossom in the 17th century. But the story of how a descendant of the tree came to Clemson University didn’t sprout until the first week of August 2017. Bishwambhar Sengupta, a doctoral candidate in the College of Science’s department of physics and astronomy, met up with his faculty mentor, Endre Takacs, and Takacs’ research group during an experiment they were conducting at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland. While there, they visited a clone of the Newton Apple Tree that thrives on the NIST campus. Sengupta and the others found several apples lying on the ground and brought them back to Clemson.”


Takacs comments: “At first, I thought it was just going to rot. I didn’t know what was going to happen to it. But after a couple of months, I began to notice that it was aging really beautifully. I thought, ‘This is great. This is Newton’s apple’ … That afternoon, we decided that we would form a new club … called Newton’s Apple Club.” … “The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which manages an enormous database of plant material, agreed to help out. On Feb. 16, 2018, three young branches – with buds prepared for grafting onto modern rootstock – arrived at Clemson … The Clemson tree is only about 7 feet tall and is as thin as a broomstick. But in the years to come, it should grow many times larger, providing fruit for hungry passersby as well as food for thought for curious minds.”

© 2020 by The Manners Group.

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