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Malus domestica - Borkh.

Common Name Apple
Family Rosaceae
USDA hardiness 3-8
Known Hazards All members of this genus contain the toxin hydrogen cyanide in their seeds and possibly also in their leaves, but not in their fruits. Hydrogen cyanide is the substance that gives almonds their characteristic taste but it should only be consumed in very small quantities. Apple seeds do not normally contain very high quantities of hydrogen cyanide but, even so, should not be consumed in very large quantities. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.
Habitats Not known in a truly wild situation.
Range A hybrid of garden origin, mainly involving M. sylvestris and M. pumila[200]..
Edibility Rating    (5 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Malus domestica Apple

Malus domestica Apple


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Physical Characteristics

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Malus domestica is a deciduous Tree growing to 9 m (29ft 6in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 3 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from April to June. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.



Woodland Garden Secondary; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; North Wall. By. East Wall. By. South Wall. By. West Wall. By.

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit;  Oil;  Oil.
Edible Uses: Oil;  Oil;  Pectin.

Fruit - raw, cooked or dried for later use. Apples are one of the most common and widely grown fruits of the temperate zone. There are a great many named varieties with differing flavours ranging from sour to sweet and textures from dry and mealy to crisp and juicy. There is also a wide range in the seasons of ripening with the first fruits being ready in late July whilst other cultivars are not picked until late autumn and will store for 12 months or sometimes more. See individual records for more details. The fruit of some cultivars is rich in pectin and can be used in helping other fruits to set when making jam etc[61, 142]. Pectin is also said to protect the body against radiation[201]. An edible oil can be obtained from the seed[4]. It would only really be viable to use these seeds as an oil source if the fruit was being used for some purpose such as making cider and then the seeds could be extracted from the remaining pulp[K].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antibacterial;  Antidiarrhoeal;  Astringent;  Laxative;  Odontalgic;  Stomachic.

The fruit is astringent and laxative[4, 9]. The bark, and especially the root bark, is anthelmintic, refrigerant and soporific[218, 240]. An infusion is used in the treatment of intermittent, remittent and bilious fevers[4, 240]. The leaves contain up to 2.4% of an antibacterial substance called 'phloretin'[240]. This inhibits the growth of a number of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria in as low a concentration as 30 ppm[240]. A ripe raw apple is one of the easiest foods for the stomach to deal with, the whole process of digestion taking about 85 minutes[4]. The apple juice will reduce the acidity of the stomach, it becomes changed into alkaline carbonates and thus corrects sour fermentation[4]. The apple is also an excellent dentifrice, the mechanical action of eating a fruit serving to clean both the teeth and the gums[4].

Other Uses

Lighting;  Oil;  Oil;  Pectin;  Teeth;  Wood.

The fruit is a source of pectin[61, 142]. Pectin is used as a thickener in jams etc and as a culture medium in laboratories. The apple is also an excellent dentifrice, the mechanical action of eating a fruit serving to clean both the teeth and the gums[4, 269]. The oil from the seed has been used as an illuminant[269]. Wood - hard, compact, fine-grained. Used for turnery, tool handles, canes etc[46, 171, 226]. It makes an excellent fuel[226].

Cultivation details

An easily grown plant, it succeeds in most fertile soils, preferring a moisture retentive well-drained loamy soil[1, 200]. Grows well in heavy clay soils, though if these are poorly drained there could be problems with diseases such as canker[200]. Prefers a sunny position but succeeds in partial shade though it fruits less well in such a situation[1, 200]. Tolerates a pH range from 6 to 7, preferring a range of 6.5 to 6.8[200]. The apple is one of the most commonly cultivated fruit crops in the temperate zone. The primary climatic requirements for the production of good quality fruit are warm summer temperatures, relative freedom from spring frosts, reasonable protection from the wind (especially cold north and east winds) and an evenly distributed rainfall of about 600 - 800mm per annum[200]. Good apple production has been achieved as far north as 65°, whilst about 1000 hours of winter temperatures below 7°c are necessary to initiate flower production[269]. However good quality apples can still be produced in other areas with careful management and choice of cultivars[200]. Even in tropical latitudes, the plant has succeeded at high elevations, producing fruit at elevations over 3000 metres in Ecuador for example[269]. Where space is at a premium, or at the limits of their climatic range, apples can be grown against a wall. Most cultivars will grow well against a sunny south or west facing wall, an east facing wall will suit many of the tougher cultivars and even a north facing wall can be used for early culinary cultivars[219]. A hybrid of mixed origins, including M. dasyphylla, M. praecox, M. pumila, M. sieversii and M. sylvestris, this species is very commonly cultivated in temperate areas for its edible fruit[11]. There are very many named varieties[46, 183, 200] and with careful choice of these varieties it is possible to provide freshly harvested fruit from July to December and stored fruit for the rest of the year. When chives (Allium schoenoprasum) or other alliums are grown under apple trees it can prevent or cure scab[18]. A spray of the infused leaves of Equisetum spp can also be used against scab[18, 201]. If climbing nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus) are grown into the tree they can repel woolly aphis[18, 201]. Apples lose their flavour if they are stored with potatoes[18]. They will also impart a bitter flavour to carrots or potatoes if they are stored in the same area[201]. Growing apples near potatoes makes the potatoes more susceptible to blight[201]. Wrapping maple leaves (Acer spp) around apples in store helps to preserve the apples[18, 20]. Apples store better if they are grown in a sward that contains a high percentage of clover[201]. Apple trees grow better and produce better quality fruit when foxgloves (Digitalis spp) and wallflowers (Erysimum cheiri) are growing in the orchard[201]. Dandelions (Taraxacum spp) produce ethylene gas and this can cause earlier ripening of fruit if plants are growing in an orchard[18]. The fruit is a good wildlife food source, especially for birds[200]. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus[200]. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus[200].


Seed - this species is a hybrid and will not breed true from seed, though some interesting new fruiting cultivars can be produced.. It is best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame. It usually germinates in late winter. Stored seed requires stratification for 3 months at 1°c and should be sown in a cold frame as soon as it is received[200]. It might not germinate for 12 months or more. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle. If given a rich compost they usually grow away quickly and can be large enough to plant out in late summer, though consider giving them some protection from the cold in their first winter. Otherwise, keep them in pots in a cold frame and plant them out in late spring of the following year. Cuttings of mature wood, November in a frame[11].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Malus angustifoliaSouthern Crab, Southern crab apple20
Malus baccataChinese Crab, Siberian crab apple21
Malus baccata mandschuricaManchurian Apple40
Malus bracteata 20
Malus brevipes 20
Malus coronariaGarland Crab, Sweet crab apple31
Malus florentinaHawthorn-leaf crab apple20
Malus floribundaJapanese Crab, Japanese flowering crab apple30
Malus fuscaOregon Crab, Oregon crab apple32
Malus glabrata 20
Malus glaucescens 20
Malus hallianaHall crab apple20
Malus halliana spontanea 20
Malus hupehensisChinese Crab, Chinese crab apple, Tea Crabapple, Flowering Tea Crabapple20
Malus ioensisPrairie Crab, Prairie crab apple, Texas crab apple, Prairie Crabapple20
Malus ioensis palmeriPrairie Crab20
Malus kansuensis 20
Malus lancifolia 20
Malus praecox 20
Malus prattiiPratt apple20
Malus prunifoliaChinese Apple, Plumleaf crab apple40
Malus prunifolia rinkiiChinese Apple30
Malus pumilaParadise Apple, Common Apple, Apple Tree32
Malus pumila nervosaCrab Apple30
Malus pumila paradisiacaParadise Apple30
Malus sargentiiSargent's apple, Sargent Crabapple20
Malus sieversii 30
Malus sikkimensis 20
Malus spectabilisChinese Flowering Apple, Asiatic apple30


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Readers comment

Richard Borrie   Fri Sep 22 2006

Orange Pippin Tasting notes, descriptions, and relationships for many apple varieties

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Subject : Malus domestica  
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