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Apple trees are typically 4–12 m (13–39 ft) tall at maturity, with a dense, twiggy crown. The leaves are 3–10 cm (1.2–3.9 in) long, alternate, simple, with a serrated margin. The flowers are borne in corymbs, and have five petals, which may be white, pink or red, and are perfect, with usually red stamens that produce copious pollen, and a half-inferior ovary; flowering occurs in the spring after 50–80 growing degree days (varying greatly according to subspecies and cultivar).
Apples require cross-pollination between individuals by insects (typically bees, which freely visit the flowers for both nectar and pollen); all are self-sterile, and (with the exception of a few specially developed cultivars) self-pollination is impossible, making pollinating insects essential. Malus species, including domestic apples, hybridize freely. They are used as food plants by the larvae of a large number of Lepidoptera species; see list of Lepidoptera that feed on Malus.
The fruit is a globose pome, varying in size from 1–4 cm (0.39–1.6 in) diameter in most of the wild species, to 6 cm (2.4 in) in M. sylvestris sieversii, 8 cm (3.1 in) in M. domestica, and even larger in certain cultivated orchard apples; among the largest-fruited cultivars (all of which originate in North America) are 'Wolf River' and 'Stark Jumbo'. The centre of the fruit contains five carpels arranged star-like, each containing one to two (rarely three) seeds.
May 5th, 2013
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