The domestic apple is a deciduous tree native to central Asia and has been grown for thousands of years in Asia and Europe.  It is a member of the rose family Rosaceae, that also includes almond, cherry and lady’s mantle.  The trees grow 6-15′ tall in cultivation and up to 30′ tall in the wild but many cultivars are grafted on dwarfing root stock and remain small.  The trees are well branched and have smooth gray bark with raised lenticels.  The dark green, elliptical to ovate leaves are 3-6″ long, have raised veins on their underside, and may be softly hairy.  Cymes of 4-6 white flowers tinged with pink appear in the spring.    Each flower is saucer-shaped,  1-3″ across, and has 4-5 petals.  The central flower of the cyme, the “king bloom” opens first and may develop a larger fruit.  The flowers and fruits attract wildlife and the fruits are especially valued all over the world for human consumption. Over 7,500  cultivars of apples are available and vary most significantly in the color, texture, taste and culinary use of the fruit.  The genus name, Malus, is the Latin name for the plant.  The specific epithet, domestica, comes from the Latin word domus meaning home, and refers to the fact it is cultivated.

Type: Deciduous tree

Outstanding Feature: Flowers, fruit

Form: Rounded

Growth Rate: Moderate

Bloom: Cymes of white flowers tinged with pink in spring

Size: 6-15 (to 30′ in the wild)

Light: Full sun to part shade

Soil: Average, medium moist, well-drained

Hardiness: Zones 3-8 (Different varieties have different chilling requirements for flowering and fruit set)

Care: Extensive spraying program needed for good yield.  Plant different varieties near each other.

Pests and Diseases: Numerous including mildew, apple scab, fire blight, black spot, aphids, coding moths and apple maggots.

Propagation: Seed, grafting

Outstanding Selections: (over 7,500 known cultivars)

‘Fuji’ (8-10′ or 12-15′ tall)

‘Gala’ (8-10′ or 12-15′)

‘Golden Delicious’ (heavy yield; yellow skin)

‘Granny Smith’ (green, tart, fruit good for cooking)

‘Jonagold’ (red fruit striped with yellow)

‘Red Delicious’ (most widely planted in North America)

‘Rome’ (cooking apple)

‘Stayman’ (fruit greenish yellow with red blush; tart, good cooking apple)

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

By Karen