Photo Credit
Photo courtesy of D.E. Herman, USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database.

Apple

Scientific name
Malus pumila
Also Known As
Common apple, Paradise apple
Plant Family
The common apple is distinguished by its tough rounded leaves which are hairy below. The leaves appear rolled as they emerge from the buds.
Identification Hints

There are many subspecies and varieties of apple trees found across the United States. The common apple is distinguished by its tough rounded leaves which are hairy below. The leaves appear rolled as they emerge from buds. Young twigs often are hairy. Native apple species are generally more shrub-like and have more conspicuous lobes on leaves.

Did You Know?

Apple trees are planted in orchards for agricultural purposes and also as ornamentals. The common apple tree, now widespread in the United States, was introduced from Europe. In fact, it is widely thought that the Romans were the first to cultivate apples into the tasty and juicy fruits they are today. They often naturalize in moist sites with good soils, or can be indicators of old homesteads or settlements.

Leaves
The leaves are simple, somewhat oval in shape, and alternate along the branches. The wooly-hairy buds are an important distinguishing feature of an apple tree. The leaves are generally 1 to 3.25 in (2.5 to 8.3 cm) long and 1 to 2.5 in (2.5 to 6.35 cm) wide. The leaves have smooth to shallow, rounded teeth on the margins. The upper surface is dark to olive green and the lower surface is white-hairy. The leaves turn yellow in the fall.
Flowers
Flowers are usually found in clusters on short spur branches (little branches sticking out from the sides of a main branch). They are white to pink with 5 petals and many stamens. Flowers generally bloom between late April to early May, after 50-80 growing degree days. They are insect pollinated and require cross-pollination to produce viable fruit.
Fruits
The well known fruits of the apple tree are called ‘pomes’ which means a fleshy fruit with seeds clustered in a leathery core in the center. In most cases, the fruits are larger than 2 in (5 cm) in diameter and come in a variety of colors from red to green to yellow when ripe. The seeds inside the fruit are small and black. The seeds contain small amounts of hydrogen cyanide and should not be consumed in large quantities. Fruits generally ripen in mid to late summer and early fall.
Bark
The bark and twigs are reddish-brown when young but gray with peeling sections when older. The mature trunks have a smooth inner bark with a reddish hue.
Habitat
Found in a variety of soils, well drained and moist, preferring a heavy loam soil. Apple trees generally divide very low and develop a canopy that is often wider than tall.
States
AL, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY