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Orchard apple or common apple, domestic apple is a deciduous, medium-sized tree that is well known for its profuse clusters of white, saucer-shaped  blossoms in late April-May, gnarly branches, and red, crisp fruit, ripening September-November. Though it originated in central Asia, being in the Malus genus, it’s a host plant for the same species of lepidoptera as our native crabapple.  Wildlife appreciates all parts of the plant for food, nesting, and cover. Domestic apple is susceptible to various diseases and pests such as mildew, rusts, aphids, apple scab, and black spot.


For healthy and productive trees, choose open, sunny sites with plenty of air circulation.  To discourage disease and increase sunlight, prune center branches to open up the canopy. Plant shallow-rooted crops around the base to discourage grass and weeds, which compete for nutrition, or consider a 2' diameter of pea gravel around newly plant trees. These methods will help protect from voles girdling the bark.  


Grows 15-30’ tall and wide.


Grows best in full sun; partial sun reduces flowering and fruiting.


Prefers moist, well-drained soils.  Heavy clay should be amended.


Leaves are bright green and smooth with hairy undersides. Trunks are often short and twisty with dark, scaly bark.


Wildlife Value:

The flowers attract large varieties of butterflies, moths, and other beneficial insects. The abundant nectar is especially important to bees for rearing their broods. Trees in the Malus genus are a larval host for 256 species of lepidoptera, including tuliptree silkmoth, apple sphinx moth, laurel sphinx moth, large lace-border moth, and variable oak-leaf caterpillar moth.  Many varieties of birds feed on the insects and fruit, while the tree sap attracts insects, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, and ruby-throated hummingbirds.  Apples are also eaten by deer and small mammals, and they are a late-season food source for butterflies and other insects.  If trees are grown to feed wildlife, leave brush and shrubby growth in the area to serve as nesting sites and cover for birds and mammals. 


Medicinal and Edible Uses:

Apples have been used to treat gas, mucous, anemia, and colic. The plant is used in Bach flower remedies. Small quantities of cyanide from the seeds have been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion.  In excess, it can cause respiratory failure or death.


Early colonists used apples mostly for cider.  In addition to cider and juice, apples are consumed raw, cooked into a sauce, and baked in pies and other dishes.


The seeds contain the toxin hydrogen cyanide and should not be consumed in large quantities.  

Apple, Domestic, Malus pumila

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