The apple is the pomaceous fruit of the apple tree, species Malus domestica in the rose family (Rosaceae), and is a perennial. It is one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits, and the most widely known of the many members of genus Malus that are used by humans.

The tree originated in Western Asia, where its wild ancestor is still found today. There are more than 7,500 known cultivars of apples, resulting in a range of desired characteristics. Cultivars vary in their yield and the ultimate size of the tree, even when grown on the same rootstock.

The apple forms a tree that is small and deciduous, reaching 3 to 12 metres (9.8 to 39 ft) tall, with a broad, often densely twiggy crown.The leaves are alternately arranged simple ovals 5 to 12 cm long and 3–6 centimetres (1.2–2.4 in) broad on a 2 to 5 centimetres (0.79 to 2.0 in) petiole with an acute tip, serrated margin and a slightly downy underside. Blossoms are produced in spring simultaneously with the budding of the leaves. The flowers are white with a pink tinge that gradually fades, five petaled, and 2.5 to 3.5 centimetres (0.98 to 1.4 in) in diameter. The fruit matures in autumn, and is typically 5 to 9 centimetres (2.0 to 3.5 in) diameter. The center of the fruit contains five carpels arranged in a five-point star, each carpel containing one to three seeds.

Where To Grow

Apple trees prefer full sun, although they will tolerate some shade. Pick a position that will not become water-logged, and that is not in a "frost pocket" (a low-lying area where cold air gathers and settles).

Apple trees are tolerant of most soil conditions - extremes of acid or alkaline soil will need to be corrected before planting. Perfect conditions are a crumbly soil with medium fertility and slightly on the acid side.

Soil Preparation

Soil preparation is best done a month or more before planting so that the soil has time to settle. Dig a 60cm (2ft) deep by 1.2m (4ft) square hole, incorporating as much organic material as possible - aim to get the soil crumbly.

If the tree is being planted in soil which has previously been fertilised for other crops, do not add more fertiliser - too fertile a soil will result in too much tree growth at the expense of too little fruit growth.

If the tree is being planted in a lawn, prepare as above, working in three handfuls of bonemeal or other long-lasting fertiliser.

When and How To Plant Apple Trees

Planting apple trees should be done any time during the winter and early Spring months, October to December being the best months. 

Planting is simple - in basic terms, dig a hole large enough to easily take the roots, place the tree in the hole and cover the roots with soil up to the surrounding ground level. Simple enough, but bear in mind a few points.

Don't add any fertiliser to the soil at this time - it may burn the roots and it will only encourage tree growth at the expense of fruit growth.

The tree should be planted to the same depth as it was in the pot (or the soil mark on the trunk in the case of bare-rooted trees). If in doubt, make sure that the joining point between the rootstock and scion (see previous section entitled rootstocks) is at least 5cms (2in) above ground level. Having planted the tree, firm  down the soil using your boots to ensure the soil is in good contact with the roots.  Water well if the conditions are dry.  

Trees on the following rootstocks will need staking throughout their lives - M9, M26 and M27. Stakes should be 5cm (2in) diameter and in general about 1.5m (5ft) high - 60cm (2ft) below ground, and the remainder above ground.

The stake should be 8cm (3in) or so from the main stem. Tie the trunk to the stake in one or two places using plastic ties available from garden centres. Do not use wire or anything which could cut into the tree trunk.

The ties will need to be checked for the first couple of years to ensure that growth of the tree trunk has not caused them to become too tight.

Health benefits of apple

      Delicious and crunchy apple is one of the popular fruit that contain an impressive list of essential nutrients, which are required for normal growth and development and overall nutritional well-being.

      Apples are low in calories; contain no saturated fats or cholesterol, but rich in dietary fiber which helps prevent absorption of dietary LDL cholesterol in the gut. The dietary fibers also help protect the mucous membrane of the colon from exposure to toxic substances by binding to cancer causing chemicals in the colon.

      Apple fruit contains good quantities of vitamin-C and beta carotene. Vitamin C is a powerful natural antioxidant. Consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body.

      Apples are rich in antioxidant phyto-nutrients flavonoids and polyphenols. The important flavonoids in apples are quercetin, epicatechin, and procyanidin B2. Apples are also good in tartaric acid that gives tart flavor to them. These compounds help body protect from deleterious effects of free radicals.

      In addition, apple fruit is a good source of B-complex vitamins such as riboflavin, thiamin and pyridoxine (vitamin B-6). Together these vitamins help as co-factors for ezymes in metabolism as well as in various synthetic functions inside the body.

      Apple also contains small amount of minerals like potassium, phosphorus and calcium. Potassium in an important component of cell and body fluids helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure; thus counters the bad influences of sodium.

Selection and Storage

Fresh apples are readily available in the stores all around the season.  Choose fresh, bright, firm textured apples with rich flavor. Avoid fruits with pressure marks over their surface as they indicate underlying mottled of pulp.

Fresh apples can be kept at room temperature for few days and stored in refrigerator for two to three weeks. Wash them in clean running cold water before use to remove any surface dust and pesticide/fungicide residues.


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