Orange County Chapter CRFG

Sharing Information on Growing Edible Plants

By Alfredi Chiri

APPLE - Malus pumila - Rosaceae
Donated by: (1) cv. "Beverly Hills"; Fullerton Arboretum. Planted in 1972 (r.f.-06)
(2) cv. "Early Dawn"; CRFG/Denman/Claypool . Planted in 1984(r.f.-06)

One of the first maxims that most children learned was the familiar one, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." There is another form to this which says, "To eat an apple going to bed will make the doctor beg his bread." 

The first trees to produce sweet flavorful apples were located many thousands of years ago in Kazakhstan. Greeks were growing several
varieties of apples by 300 B.C. Early settlers to North America brought apple seeds, and trees and were grown as early as 1630. A pioneer apple farmer named John Chapman, from Massachusetts, now known to many as "John Appleseed," became famous in the 1800's when he distributed apple seeds and trees to settlers in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. The legend claims that Appleseed traveled barefoot, wearing old torn clothes and a tin pot for a hat.

Apple trees grow in temperate regions, areas that don't get too hot or too cold. Apple trees are best adapted to areas where the average winter temperature is near freezing for at least two months, though many varieties can withstand lower temperatures. Apple trees are deciduous.

Apple trees belong to the rose family. Taxonomists have called the cultivated species of apple tree Malus domestica, and the wild varieties Malus pumila. Apples and pears are called "pomes" because they have a paper-like core, a fleshy layer around the core, and an outer skin. The core encloses the seeds. About 25 percent of the volume of a ripe apple is air, which explains why they float in water.

An apple tree begins to bear fruit in 6 to 8 years and is capable of producing fruit for as long as 100 years. Young apple trees must be
carefully pruned during the first five years, so that main branches are equally distributed up the trunk, and so that weak branches do not
develop. Apple trees may grow more than 30 feet in height.

Fresh-cut apples turn brown when iron-containing chemicals in the apple react with oxygen in the air. Lemon juice will inhibit the browning of a freshly cut apple.

Apples come in thousands of varieties, sizes, textures and tastes. The color of the outside of an apple may be green, yellow, or various shades of red. Each variety of apple has a slightly different flavor, from sweet to tart to bitter.

Apples are classified into 4 flowering season groups: Early flowering, Mid-season flowering, Mid-season/late flowering, and Late flowering.

Apples require a pollinator partner; it can be the same kind or one related variety.

The so-called Triploid varieties pose a special problem. Here the variety is an extremely poor pollinator, so 2 non-Triploid varieties need
to be grown nearby to act as pollinator partners. These pollinate both the Triploid variety and each other.