How Maris Piper got its name


At the time Maris Piper was released, a number of breeding stations were using two names for varieties, the first denoting its origin (ie breeding station or breeder) and  the second the unique name for that variety. When the Plant Breeding Institute moved in Cambridge from the University Field Station in Huntingdon Road to Trumpington, it was located on Maris Lane and Maris was chosen to denote varieties bred at PBI.

Maris was the surname of the farmers who originally occupied Maris House (now known as Church Farm) and they gave the name to the road.

Maris Lane

The first member of the family to live in the farmhouse was John Maris, born in 1734 in Great Shelford, a village near Trumpington. There is a road in Great Shelford named Maris Green.

There was initially an attempt to name Maris varieties starting with the first letter of the crop – eg Maris Kestrel (kale), Maris Widgeon (wheat), Maris Bead (bean) and Maris Peer (potato).  The second part of the name was chosen by the breeder – with these constraints. Harold Howard’s family remember the day tubers of this new variety were brought home and put on the dining table for suggestions of a name beginning with ‘p’. Harold’s son William suggested ‘Piper’ and this was generally agreed. However, a memo from Dr Howard to the Institute Director in 1962 shows that at that time the proposal was to name clone X8/5 ‘Maris Pard’, a name later abandoned in favour of Maris Piper (probably in 1963, although the final decision was not made until November 1964)

The name seems to have captured the public imagination -there is The Maris Piper (literally – a Scottish piper with the surname ‘Maris’), a Maris Piper Band and a Maris Piper thoroughbred horse.