The King Edward potato is predominantly white-skinned with pink colouration. It is mostly oval in shape, with a floury texture and shallow eyes. The plant is upright and tall with numerous stems and small green leaves. Its flowers are purple with white-tipped petals.
In Redcliffe Salaman‘s book The History and Social Influence of the Potato first published in 1949, it was noted that parentage of King Edward was unknown. It was bred by a gardener in Northumberland who called it ‘Fellside Hero’ and passed into the hands of a grower in Yorkshire and in turn a potato merchant in Manchester who having no use for it passed it onto John Butler of Scotter in Lincolnshire. He in turn purchased all the seed stocks available and multiplied the variety on 50 acres of land before renaming the variety King Edward on the advice of a potato merchant.
The Coronation of King Edward VII in 1902 coincided with the introduction of this variety of potato and its name is believed to originate as a ‘commemoration’ of this occasion. It is claimed that the grower wrote to Buckingham Palace seeking permission to name his potato after the monarch and that a reply was received granting royal assent.
It is one of the oldest surviving varieties in Europe.