Fact Check

Is Isaac Newton’s Apple Tree Still Alive?

How do you like them apples?

Published Aug 17, 2021

Updated Aug 19, 2021
 (Plucas58/Wikimedia Commons)
Image Via Plucas58/Wikimedia Commons
The apple tree where Isaac Newton came up with the laws of gravity is still alive and flourishing in England in the orchard of Woolsthorpe Manor.

The very same tree from which Isaac Newton came up with the law of gravity is still alive and thriving in Woolsthorpe Manor, England, in Newton’s family home and where he spent his childhood.

According to the website of the National Trust of England, which preserves and promotes access to historical buildings around the country, Woolsthorpe Manor is where the famous apple tree resides. The conservation charity is responsible for the maintenance and care of the manor as well. The website states:

In the orchard at Woolsthorpe Manor we are custodians of a very special apple tree. Yes, the very tree from which an apple fell and caused Newton to ask the question: 'Why do apples always fall straight down to the ground?'

The tree first put down roots around 400 years ago. For at least 240 years it has been shown to visitors as Isaac Newton's apple tree.

Here he began to think about why everything always fell down - not sideways, or upwards - and came to the conclusion that there must be a power (now we call it a force) that draws them. 'How far would that power extend?', he thought. 'Why not as far as the moon?'.

This video shows a timelapse of the apple tree:


Contrary to popular opinion, Newton’s theory of gravity did not emerge from when an apple fell on his head. He described the moment himself to William Stukeley, an archaeologist and one of Newton’s first biographers. Stukeley relayed the story in 1752 in the “Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton’s Life”:

After dinner, the weather being warm, we went into the garden and drank thea, under the shade of some apple trees…he told me, he was just in the same situation, as when formerly, the notion of gravitation came into his mind. It was occasion’d by the fall of an apple, as he sat in contemplative mood. “Why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground,” thought he to himself: occasion'd by the fall of an apple, as he sat in a comtemplative mood: "why should it not go sideways, or upwards? but constantly to the earths centre? assuredly, the reason is, that the earth draws it. there must be a drawing power in matter. & the sum of the drawing power in the matter of the earth must be in the earths center, not in any side of the earth. therefore dos this apple fall perpendicularly, or toward the center. if matter thus draws matter; it must be in proportion of its quantity. therefore the apple draws the earth, as well as the earth draws the apple.”

In 1816, the tree blew down in a storm. Most of the tree remained intact and it was re-rooted, even though some branches were removed. That same tree is still standing today.

The tree is of the “Flower of Kent” variety, which produces green apples with a red flush. Cambridge University has an apple tree that is an offshoot of Newton’s original tree. It was grafted from the actual tree and planted at Trinity College in 1954 to honor Newton’s connection to the university.


Aug. 19, 2021: Added more information about the tree being uprooted in a storm in 1816.

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a reporter with experience working in television, international news coverage, fact checking, and creative writing.