Malus domestica: Apple tree

Family: Rosaceae
Common name: Apple tree, Apple, Seb

The apple tree is a remarkable and iconic fruit-bearing tree that has been cherished for centuries and loved all over the world for its sweet fruits. Apple trees typically grow to a height of 3-5 meters tall, with a rounded and spreading crown giving it an elegant appearance.

The bark is smooth when young, gradually developing a more textured, grayish appearance as the tree matures. Apple trees exhibit a well-structured branching pattern, making them ideal for shaping through pruning.

The leaves of the Apple tree are simple, alternately arranged, and elliptical in shape. They have serrated edges, providing a distinctive appearance. The leaves emerge with a vibrant green color in the spring, turning darker as summer progresses. In the fall, they transform into a glorious palette of golds and reds, adding a touch of autumn splendor to the landscape.

In the spring, apple trees grace us with a profusion of delicate, fragrant blossoms. The flowers are 3-4 cm in diameter and white with a pink tinge, creating a breathtaking display that signals the beginning of the growing season. These flowers attract pollinators such as bees, ensuring the essential process of fertilization for fruit formation.

The most beloved aspect of the apple tree is its delectable red or green fruits. Apples come in an array of colors, sizes, and flavors, from sweet to tart, crisp to tender. The fruit’s skin can be smooth or slightly textured, while the flesh may range from creamy white to vibrant shades of green, yellow, or red.

Each apple carries the essence of its unique variety, making apple tasting a delightful experience. Fruits are mostly eaten raw, but they are also used to make juices, jams, preserves, wine, and cider. There are unlimited apple dishes around the world like apple pie, toffee apple, apple cake, crisps, and apple crumble. They are even used in savory dishes to bring in a touch of sweetness and freshness.

Apple trees originated Malus sieversii, their wild ancestors still found in Central Asia. Currently, there are over 7000 cultivars of apples in varying colors and sizes. Some of the most common ones are Gala, Fuji, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Red Delicious, and so on. Most trees yield around 40-100 kgs of fruit each year, but it can also come down drastically in specific years when there is poor fruiting.

Apple trees need good sunlight for at least six hours a day, and well-drained soil. Regular pruning, watering, and fertilization can help keep the tree in good health yielding abundant fruits. While planting seedlings, ensure ample space between them to allow for healthy growth.

Beyond their delicious taste, apples have been used for their potential health benefits. They are a great source of dietary fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants, contributing to heart health, digestive regularity, and immune support.

Apple trees can be propagated through seeds, cuttings, and grafting. Trees grown from seeds can produce fruits that are very different from the parent plant. Hence grafting is the most preferred method of propagation.