1. Family: Rosaceae Juss.
    1. Genus: Malus Mill.
      1. Malus domestica (Suckow) Borkh.

        This species is accepted, and its native range is Central Asia to Afghanistan.

    [KSP]

    Kew Species Profiles

    General Description

    Apple is the fruit of Malus pumila, one of the most widely cultivated fruit trees in temperate regions of the world - growing in over 93 countries. It belongs in the family Rosaceae, which also contains roses and other edible fruit species such as pears, plums and raspberries.

    Selection over thousands of years has produced an enormous diversity of apple cultivars varying in shape, colour, sweetness, crispness and storability. Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Braeburn, Cox, Pink Lady, Royal Gala and Bramley represent just a few apple varieties found in supermarkets in temperate countries. The majority of apples are eaten fresh although there are varieties grown for cooking, canning, juicing and cider and vinegar production.

    Apples are rich in vitamin A and C, and are an excellent source of carbohydrates and fibre. Beyond their value as a food crop, apples have played a significant role in culture, art, history, religion and technology. Apple trees blossom in the spring and many types are very ornamental.

    Species Profile
    Geography and distribution

    It is likely that the apple we cultivate today originated in Central Asia - in the region which includes Asia Minor, Caucasus, Kazakhstan and western China. Archaeological evidence suggests that our Bronze Age ancestors collected small wild apples. However, it wasn't until the advent of grafting that the extensive cultivation of apples could occur. Records show that a form of apple resembling the domesticated apple occurred in the Near East 4,000 years ago, which is consistent with the date when grafting was first being used. The domesticated apple was then brought to Europe and North Africa by the Greeks and Romans before spreading worldwide. Today apples are mainly grown in temperate climates, although some varieties are adapted to grow in tropical and subtropical parts of the world.

    Commercially, China leads the way with around 40% of the world's apple production, while the United States of America is a distant second with 7.5%.

    Description

    Overview:  Malus domestica is a deciduous tree growing up to 5 metres tall in cultivation and up to 9 metres tall in the wild. 

    Leaves:  Alternately arranged, dark green, simple oval-shaped with a serrated edge.

    Flowers:  Blossoms are white to pale pink and develop in the spring at the same time as the budding of the leaves. Flowers are 3-4 cm in diameter. Each has 5 petals with 20 stamens which are about half the length of the petals. The ovary is inferior, positioned beneath the sepals, petals and stamens. It contains 5 locules (chambers), each with 2 ovules. The 5 styles are slightly longer than the stamens.

    Fruits:  The edible part of the plant is the pome which is essentially a womb that encloses the inedible true fruit. Commercial varieties are up to 8 cm in diameter with red, yellow, green or pink skin. The flesh is whitish sometimes with a pink or yellow tinge. 

    Synonyms

    Malus communis Poiret,  M. dasyphylla  Borkhausen,  M. dasyphylla  var.  domestica  Koidzumi,  M. domestica  Borkhausen,  M. domestica  subsp.  pumila  (Miller) Likhonos,  M. pumila  var.  domestica  C. K. Schneider,  M. niedzwetzkyana  Dieck ex Koehne,  M. sylvestris  Miller subsp.  mitis  Mansfeld,  Pyrus malus  Linnaeus,  P. malus var.  pumila  Henry.

    Uses

    As well as being eaten raw, apples can be baked or stewed, used in sauces, and in pies and cakes. Apples can be juiced or fermented to produce cider and vinegar. Apples have long been considered to have health-giving properties, and while the old saying 'an apple a day keeps the doctor away' may be somewhat hopeful, apples do contain vitamin C and antioxidants which help lower the risk of certain types of cancer as well as the risk of heart disease and stroke. They are also high in fibre and potassium and low in sodium.

    The bark of the apple tree can be used to make a yellow dye.

    Throughout history apples have played a significant role in art and culture. Apples have inspired many myths and legends. The most famous association of the apple is the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Although the Bible doesn't specify which kind of fruit tree was used to tempt Eve, numerous works of art depict it as an apple. The apple is therefore symbolic of temptation. In Greek, Russian, Norse and other mythologies the apples were frequently used as symbols of immortality, reincarnation, love and romance.

    Millennium Seed Bank: Seed storage

    The  Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save plants worldwide, focusing on those plants which are under threat and those which are of most use in the future. Once seeds have been collected they are dried, packaged and stored at -20°C in Kew's Millennium Seed Bank vault.

    Number of seed collections stored in the Millennium Seed Bank:  One 

    Seed storage behaviour:  Orthodox (the seeds of this plant can be dried to low moisture contents without significantly reducing their viability. This means they are suitable for long-term frozen storage such as at the MSB) 

    Germination testing:  Successful 

    Crop wild relatives of apple

    The Millennium Seed Bank and the Global Crop Diversity Trust are engaged in a ten-year project, called 'Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change'. The project aims to protect, collect and prepare the wild relatives of 29 key food crops, including apple, so that they are available to pre-breeders for the development of new varieties that are more resilient to the effects of climate change.

    There is an enormous amount of diversity found in apples. However, many varieties are lost because they do not meet the commercial standards for storage and appearance or are hard to cultivate and susceptible to diseases. Conserving these varieties is important because they are a genetic storehouse which can safeguard the future of the fruit. 

    Apples are susceptible to many pests and diseases, and conventional commercial production relies heavily on agrochemicals to maintain yields and to drive away pests. Applescab, a fungal disease, is the most devastating disease of apple worldwide. Other diseases include powdery mildew and fireblight. As these diseases evolve, crop diversity will be needed to support continued yields and to breed resistance.

    The greatest source of genetic diversity comes from crop wild relatives which, in addition to the varieties, can be used in breeding programs to protect the crop against disease and environmental stress.

    This species at Kew

    Pressed and dried specimens of Malus domestica  are held in Kew's Herbarium, where they are available to researchers by appointment.

    Distribution
    China
    Ecology
    Most varieties are adapted to temperate climates and prefer fertile, cool, damp soil. Suitable for sandy, loamy, and clayey soils.
    Conservation
    Widespread in cultivation.
    Hazards

    Contains the toxin hydrogen cyanide in the seeds and possibly in the leaves, but not in the fruit. When consumed in excess hydrogen cyanide can cause respiratory failure and even death.

    Images

    Distribution

    Native to:

    Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Tadzhikistan, Uzbekistan, Xinjiang

    Introduced into:

    Alabama, Alaska, Albania, Argentina Northeast, Argentina South, Arkansas, Azores, Baleares, Baltic States, Belarus, Belgium, British Columbia, Bulgaria, California, Central European Rus, Colorado, Connecticut, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Delaware, Denmark, District of Columbia, East European Russia, Ecuador, Falkland Is., Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Kansas, Kentucky, Korea, Krym, Louisiana, Madeira, Maine, Manitoba, Maryland, Masachusettes, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nepal, Netherlands, Nevada, New Brunswick, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New South Wales, New York, Newfoundland, North Carolina, North Caucasus, North Dakota, Norway, Nova Scotia, Ohio, Ontario, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Poland, Prince Edward I., Québec, Rhode I., Romania, South Carolina, Spain, Sweden, Tennessee, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Utah, Vermont, Victoria, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Yugoslavia

    Common Names

    English
    Apple

    Malus domestica (Suckow) Borkh. appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
    Nov 1, 1977 Favrat, L. [6379], Switzerland K000782654
    Sheahan, M.C. [MCS92], United Kingdom K000782653
    s.coll [s.n.], Philippines Pyrus malus var. paradisiaca K000782637
    s.coll [s.n.], Philippines Pyrus malus var. paradisiaca K000782638
    Harvey, H.H. [s.n.], United Kingdom Pyrus malus var. paradisiaca K000782635
    Jul 1, 1962 Gillett [12408], Iraq Pyrus malus K000782676
    Jul 1, 1962 s.coll [2839], Iraq Pyrus malus K000782677
    Pyrus malus 11660.000
    Hubbard, C.E. [s.n.], United Kingdom Pyrus malus K000782633
    Gamble, J.S. [29195], United Kingdom Pyrus malus K000782620
    Gamble, J.S. [30457], United Kingdom Pyrus malus K000782630
    Cowan [2452], Iran Pyrus malus K000782657
    Karelin [1467], Kazakhstan Pyrus malus K000782680
    Thurston, E. [s.n.], United Kingdom Pyrus malus K000782634
    s.coll [s.n.], United Kingdom Pyrus malus K000782623
    s.coll [s.n.], United Kingdom Pyrus malus K000782632
    s.coll. [Cat. no. 7111], India Pyrus malus K001126739
    Auh [s.n.], United Kingdom Pyrus malus K000782631
    s.coll [6413], Uzbekistan Malus niedzwetzkyana K000782678
    Jun 1, 1950 C.E.S. [s.n.], United Kingdom Malus pumila K000782617
    Alston, A.H.G. [29], Greece Malus pumila K000782611
    Cowan [2314], Iran Malus pumila K000782656
    Davis [33594], Ukraine Malus pumila K000782608

    First published in Theor. Prakt. Handb. Forstbot. 2: 1272 (1803)

    Accepted by

    • Ackerfield, J. (2015). Flora of Colorado: 1-818. BRIT Press.
    • Zuloaga, F.O., Morrone, O. , Belgrano, M.J., Marticorena, C. & Marchesi, E. (eds.) (2008). Catálogo de las Plantas Vasculares del Cono Sur Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 107: 1-3348. Missouri Botanical Garden.
    • Brako, L. & Zarucchi, J.L. (1993). Catalogue of the Flowering Plants and Gymnosperms of Peru Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 45: i-xl, 1-1286. Missouri Botanical Garden.
    • Hnatiuk, R.J. (1990). Census of Australian vascular plants Australian Flora and Fauna Series 11: 1-650.

    Not accepted by

    • Chang, C.S., Kim, H. & Chang, K.S. (2014). Provisional checklist of vascular plants for the Korea peninsula flora (KPF): 1-660. DESIGNPOST. [Cited as Malus pumila.]
    • Dobignard, A. & Chatelain, C. (2013). Index synonymique de la flore d'Afrique du nord 5: 1-451. Éditions des conservatoire et jardin botaniques, Genève. [Cited as Malus pumila.]
    • Allred, K.W. (2012). Flora Neomexicana, ed. 2, 1: 1-599. Range Science Herbarium, Las Cruces, New Mexico. [Cited as Malus pumila.]
    • Watson, M.F. & al. (eds.) (2011). Flora of Nepal 3: 1-425. Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh. [Cited as Malus pumila.]
    • Lambion, J., Delvosalle, L. & Duvigneaud, J. (2004). Nouvelle flore de la Belgique du G. D. de Luxembourg, du Nord de la France et des régions voisines, ed. 5: 1-1167. Edition du Patrimoine du Jardin botanique national de Belgique. [Cited as Malus sylvestris subsp. mitis.]
    • Grierson, A.J.C. & Long, D.G. (1987). Flora of Bhutan 1(3): 466-834. Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh. [Cited as Malus pumila.]

    Literature

    Kew Backbone Distributions
    • Bailey, C. & al. (2015). Guide to the Vascular Plants of Tennessee: 1-813. University of Tennessee press.
    • Chang, C.S., Kim, H. & Chang, K.S. (2014). Provisional checklist of vascular plants for the Korea peninsula flora (KPF): 1-660. DESIGNPOST.
    • Flora of North America Editorial Committee (2014). Flora of North America North of Mexico 9: 1-713. Oxford University Press, New York, Oxford.
    • Mohlenbrock, R.H. (2014). Vascular Flora of Illinois. A Field Guide, ed. 4: 1-536. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale.
    • Kurtto, A., Sennikov, A.N. & Lampinen, R. (2013). Atlas Florae Europaeae. Distribution of vascular plants in Europe 16: 1-168.
    • Allred, K.W. (2012). Flora Neomexicana, ed. 2, 1: 1-599. Range Science Herbarium, Las Cruces, New Mexico.
    • Watson, M.F. & al. (eds.) (2011). Flora of Nepal 3: 1-425. Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh.
    • Lazkov, G.A. & Sultanova, B.A. (2011). Checklist of vascular plants of Kyrgyzstan Norrlinia 24: 1-166.
    • Kral, R., Diamond, A.R., Ginzbarg, S.L., Hansen, C.J., Haynes, R.R., Keener, B.R., Lelong, M.G., Spaulding, D.D. & Woods, M. (2011). Annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Alabama: 1-112. Botanical reseach institute of Texas.
    • Zuloaga, F.O., Morrone, O. , Belgrano, M.J., Marticorena, C. & Marchesi, E. (eds.) (2008). Catálogo de las Plantas Vasculares del Cono Sur Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 107: 1-3348. Missouri Botanical Garden.
    • Wu, Z. & Raven, P.H. (eds.) in Flora of China Editorial Committee (2003). Pittosporaceae through Connaraceae Flora of China 9: 1-494. Science Press (Beijing) & Missouri Botanical Garden Press (St. Louis).
    • Jørgensen, P.M. & León-Yánez, S. (eds.) (1999). Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Ecuador Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 75: i-viii, 1-1181. Missouri Botanical Garden.
    • Hansen, A. & Sunding, P. (1993). Flora of Macaronesia. Checklist of vascular plants. 4. revised edition Sommerfeltia 17: 1-295.
    • Hnatiuk, R.J. (1990). Census of Australian vascular plants Australian Flora and Fauna Series 11: 1-650.
    • Meikle, R.D. (1977). Flora of Cyprus 1: 1-832. The Bentham-Moxon Trust Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Ovczinnikov, P.N. (ed.) (1975). Flora Tadzhikskoi SSR 4: 1-576. Izd-vo Akademii nauk SSSR, Moskva.
    • Browicz, K. & al. (1969). Rosaceae I Flora Iranica 66: 1-217. Naturhistorisches Museums Wien.
    • Townsend, C.C. & Guest, E. (1966). Flora of Iraq 2: 1-184. Ministry of Agriculture & Agrarian Reform, Baghdad.
    • Paelov, N.V. (ed.) in Pavlov, N.V. (ed.) (1961). Flora Kazakhstana 4: 1-546. Alma-Ata, Izd-vo Akademii nauk Kazakhskoi SSR.
    • Korovin, E.P. & Vvedensky, A.I. (eds.) (1955). Flora Uzbekistana 3: 1-824. Izd-va Akademii nauk Uzbekskoi SSR, Tashkent.
    • Nikitin, V.V. (ed.) (1949). Flora Turkmenii 4: 1-364. Turkmenskoe gosudarstvennoe izd., Ashkhabad.

    Sources

    Art and Illustrations in Digifolia
    Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

    Herbarium Catalogue Specimens
    'The Herbarium Catalogue, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet http://www.kew.org/herbcat [accessed on Day Month Year]'. Please enter the date on which you consulted the system.
    Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

    Kew Backbone Distributions
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2018. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    © Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2018. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Kew Science Photographs
    Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

    Kew Species Profiles
    Kew Species Profiles
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0