It comes from the Borders town of Yetholm and was thought to have been introduced to the town in 1899, although it is not known for certain whether this variety was originally bred by gypsies or by a local gardener. It was however, acquired at a horse fair by its namesake ‘Mr Little’ who then apparently grew it in his family’s garden for the next 50 years, keeping the potato in production. The potato variety was ‘discovered’ in 1998 by Alan Romans who got a tuber from the family, encouraged growth of it through his microplants project, and had the potato placed in the National Collection in 1999.
The Yetholm Gypsy, also known as Mr Little’s Yetholm Gypsy, is said to be fairly slow to sprout, but seems to grow happily and yield well, though with yields which are possibly slightly lower than a modern variety. Tubers can be slightly smaller than modern varieties with some shape variation and occasionally ‘knobbly bits’. The plant’s leaves are small and dark green and have a pretty mauve flower. The plant is said to grow somewhat messily in many different directions.