apple tree

Apple – Malus x Domestica

Tree of the Week

2nd June 2020 | Info

Common name: Apple 

Scientific name: Malus x domestica 

Introduction: The Apple (Malus x domestica) is a non-native, deciduous tree that originates from central Asia. They have thousands of cultivated varieties and produce one of the most loved fruits in the UK. 


Leaves: The leaves of an Apple tree are dark green and ovate with toothed edges. Quite often, you will find that the topside of apple leaves are slightly furry with downy hairs and that their undersides are more densely hairy.  

Buds: Apple buds are soft and fuzzy. Often, before they bloom, you will find that clusters of leaves surround the fruit buds. 

Bark: Apple tree bark is a grey-brown and textured, often covered in many bumps, scales or ridges. 

Form: Apple trees tend to be small to mediumsized trees that rarely reach no higher than 8m tall.  


Apple trees tend to flower towards the end of spring/beginning of summer in blossom clusters of five-petalled, pinky-white flowers. Their fruits are green to red apples that contain carpels which encase dark-brown seeds. 

apples on a tree

[Apples on a tree]

Growth Habit

Bushy. Averagely take between 10-20 years to reach their ultimate height. 

Ecological Importance

Apple trees provide an essential food source for many birds. For example, Thrushes feed on fallen fruits and Bullfinches favour their buds. Apple trees are also known for their typically ‘bushy’ nature, making them an ideal nesting site for Blackbirds. 

Properties of Apple Wood and its Uses

Applewood is very dense, and therefore, it can be hard to work with. However, it is not readily available, especially in large quantities, meaning it is used very few and far betweenThose who are lucky to get hold of it will typically use it for intricate carving or to make speciality wood objects.  

Styling of Apple/Where to Find Them

Naturally, Apple trees can be found in hedgerows or thickets throughout the UK. However, they are often small and singular trees. Occasionally, you will also find that Apple trees are grown ornamentally in gardens. 

Associated Pests and Diseases

The Apple tree can be susceptible to a variety of pests and diseases. For example, they can be prone to aphid attacks, mussel scale and codling months which can bore into ripe fruit and feed on the core. They can also suffer from Apple Canker and brown rot.  

Interesting Facts

In Greek mythology, apples are considered to be a forbidden fruit


Pruning and Pruning Qualities: You can prune Apple trees for many reasons, but the main ones are to help increase the following year’s harvest or the help improve the current year’s crop, especially for those that are grown for fruit production. 

You can also prune to help increase airflow and light penetration in and to help limit the risk of pests and diseases. To do this, it is suggested that you use a thinning technique on the crown or areas of congestion, which will help to provide an open centre.  

Apple trees have a bushy form/growth-habit which some desire to control. However, it is advised that you should never prune more than 20% of an Apple tree’s crown as not to expose sprouting water shoots. You should also avoid pruning any large limbs as this can increase the risk of decay. 

When to prune your tree, is all dependent on the purpose of pruning and your trees growth form.  

Untrained apple trees should ideally be pruned each year between November and March before the first leaves appear. 

Trained Apple trees, however, when healthy, can benefit from Summer pruning, typically between July and August.  

It is advised that weaker Apple trees are left alone as their leaves provide the tree with a vital food source which shouldn’t be taken away. However, neglected Apple trees are likely to stop producing fruit and become more unruly and unattractive.  

The pruning of apple trees can get quite confusing, so it is always suggested that you consult your local tree surgeon who will be able to answer your questions and help to advise you on what your tree may need or require. They will also be able to carry out work safely for you. You can find your local tree surgeon here. 

Growth Rate after Pruning: After specific pruning methods, the fruit harvest of an Apple tree can be increased.  

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