Scientific Name: Malus domestica or pumila
Description: Hardly needs description. Moderate sized tree to small dwarf trees.
History: Originated in Western Asia (Turkey?). Likely the first tree to be cultivated. First brought to the U.S. in the 17th Century.
Trivia: China is the main producer of apples. The U.S. is second.
USING THIS PLANT
- Fresh eating, cooking
- Fresh juice
- Fermenting: Cider, Apple Jack
- Smoking - wood is commonly used for smoking meats
- Nectar source for insects (especially bees)
- Winter food source for birds and mammals
- Dynamic Accumulator (Fair potassium accumulator) - The term "Dynamic Accumulator" is used by Dave Jacke in Edible Forest Gardens as a way to describe plants that either keep nutrients around (like in fallen autumn leaves) or pull nutrients up from the subsoil.
- Standard 100-400 lbs (45-180 kg)
- Semi-dwarf 77-155 lbs (35-70 kg)
- Dwarf 55-120 lbs (25-55 kg)
Harvesting: Harvest when ripe
Storage: Store in cool place
DESIGNING WITH THIS PLANT
USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9
Plant Type: Medium-sized Shrub to Medium-Sized Tree
Forest Garden Use: Canopy Layer in Smaller Forest Gardens, Sub-Canopy Layer
Cultivars/Varieties: Over 7,500 cultivars
- Most require cross-pollination
- Note that not all species will cross-pollinate – review a chart before planting. Here is one example.
Years to Begin Bearing:
- Standard 5-8 yrs
- Semi-dwarf 4 yrs
- Dwarf 3 yrs
- Standard 10 yrs
- Semi-dwarf 10 yrs
- Dwarf 5 yrs
- Standard 35-100 yrs
- Semi-dwarf 30-50 yrs?
- Dwarf 10-30 yrs
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS PLANT
Graphic showing the different sizes of rootstocks.
Table showing characteristics of some rootstocks.
Size: Depends on root stock
- Own root, Standard: 20-26’ (6-8m) high x 20’ (6m) wide → tall, not for fresh eating apples which should be picked from the tree, but can be used for juice/cider apples which can be picked up off the ground
- Semi-Dwarf: 13-16’ (4-5m) high and wide
- Dwarf: 8-13’ (2.5-4m) high x 12’ (3.5m) wide
Roots: Flat, mostly shallow roots
Growth Rate: Medium
Apple Tree in Fall
GROWING CONDITIONS FOR THIS PLANT
Light: Full Sun preferred
Shade: Tolerates mild shade
Special Considerations for Growing:
- Tolerant of most garden conditions
- Not tolerate to Juglone, a natural growth inhibitor produced by members of the Walnut Family: Hickory, Pecan, Walnut, Wingnut
Propagation: Typically by grafting. Seeds are not true to type - meaning they produce apple trees that produce apples that rarely taste anything close to the parent stock... often they do not have a good fresh eating flavor, but could be used for hard cider.
- Pruning annually to every 2-3 yrs
- Needs nitrogen and potassium to sustain cropping
Numerous diseases including various types of Apple Scab, Blotch, Rot, Canker, Mildew, Rust, Pit, Scald, Mottle, Blight, and pests including Nematodes, Codling Moth, Aphids, Bird, to name just a few.
Seeds and leaves are poisonous – contain a precursor to cyanide (large amounts need to be eaten for this to be toxic).
Red Astrachan Apple