Everyone knows apples. A delicious and juicy fruit that both humans and animals alike love. Overall, there are between 30 and 55 species of trees. Farmers are crossing species to make tastier apples. You will find the trees growing across the Northern Hemisphere, in the temperate zone.
All in all, apple trees are small trees, standing less than 40 feet. They are easy to pick from the ground or from a small ladder. While not true for all species, most species need cross-pollination, and the trees have preferences for best growth. Also, many species grow naturally, including crab apples.
While we heavily use the fruit from the apple tree, we even use the wood of the tree. The smoke from the wood adds a delicious flavor to food cooked over the smoke. The United States is one of the largest producers of the apple crop every year. In 2021, the United States produced over 10 billion apples. The apple tree is a great crop for you to grow in your backyard. You just need to keep in mind that you will probably need at least two.
So How Many Kinds of Apple Trees are There?
Scientists estimate between 30 and 55 species of trees are growing today. The wide range of species is mostly because of farmers creating hybrid species. The apple tree is known as the Malus genus. Additionally, the Malus genus is part of the Rosaceae family.
The trees in the Malus genus hold many common names. These names include cooking apples, crab apples, wild apples, eating apples, and rain berries.
However, botanists divide the Malus genus into 8 sections. The sections are:
The Section Malus contains many of the species that we love, from Honey Crisp apples to Granny Smith apples.
Most of the other sections contain crab apples that are beloved by animals but are too tart for most humans.
How Large Do Apple Trees Grow?
Apple trees are small trees. In fact, most orchards can be picked with a small ladder. Many species stand between 15 and 20 feet. Alternatively, some will grow to closer to 40 feet with time. Apple trees grow faster in their younger years, usually between a foot and 18 inches. However, this slows down greatly as the tree matures. At this time, they will rarely grow a foot a year. They grow with spreads up to 40 feet.
While apple trees will grow to 40 feet in the wild, orchard owners prune them to 20 feet in height for ease of collecting apples. Dependent on the species, smaller trees will bear fruit in 3 years, while larger species will not bear fruit for at least 6 years.
The trunk of the tree does not grow very tall. Often, the trunk will only grow to 6 feet in height with far-spreading branches.
What Does an Apple Tree Look Like?
Given these points, the apple tree is a short tree with a large canopy of branches and leaves. The trunk is short and narrow. The trees are deciduous, losing their leaves in the autumn.
The leaves of the apple tree are usually dark green. The top of the leaf is shiny and bright, and the underside is dull and a gray-tinted green. Moreover, the leaves have a slightly toothed edge and are oval. The bark is gray with a scaly texture.
Before apples comes apple blossoms. Notably, the apple blossoms are pink or white.
The actual apple fruit is the easiest way to identify an apple tree. Apples vary greatly in color, shape, and size. You will find apples on the tree in late summer and early autumn.
Many popular varieties of apples are:
- Granny Smith
- Honey Crisp
- Red Delicious
- Crabapples (many varieties, not eaten by humans)
Where Can I Find an Apple Tree?
Crabapple species grow in almost all temperate zones in the Northern Hemisphere. Many paleobotanists assert that apples originated in the Caspian Sea area.
There are 32 states with farmers growing apples. It is easy to find a local apple orchard. Nevertheless, the top five states are Washington, New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and California.
China, Japan, and other parts of Asia such as Green and Syria all grow the trees. Furthermore, they grow in Russia, Italy, and Nepal.
There are some species that grow in Europe. Close to one-third of apple orchards in Europe are in Poland.
While many apple trees grow naturally, especially crabapple trees, you will find most apple trees in orchards or backyards.
How Long Can an Apple Tree Live?
Apple trees do not live long lives. Overall, their size matters greatly for their lives. The smaller or dwarf trees typically live less than 25 years. On the other hand, larger or standard trees can reach up to 50 years of age. In the later stages of their lives, trees stop producing fruit.
Very recently, the oldest tree fell. It was in Vancouver, Washington State and was almost 200 years old.
Can I Grow an Apple Tree?
Apple trees are easy to grow and a great addition to any garden or backyard. Although they are easy to grow; it is best to start with a sapling because of the slow growth rate. Also, the trees are genetically different from their parent tree, usually weaker.
You should focus on climate when choosing the species of apple to plant. Not all species are cold hardy and some need longer growing seasons. Furthermore, the trees are susceptible to pests and need help to defend themselves.
Be aware if the species you choose needs a species friend to cross-pollinate.
Your tree will want full sun with at least six hours of sun and well-drained soil. Water your sapling regularly.
It is Time to BRANCH out into some fun tree facts!
What are Some Uses for Apple Trees?
The fruit of the apple tree is the most significant use of the tree. It brings sustenance to so many species of animals. Apples are the most consumed fruit in the United States. Not only is it wonderful to eat fresh off the tree, but we can also turn it into countless things. We turn apples into juice, cider, applesauce, desserts, jellies, and salads. Apples are a staple of our diet and have been for thousands of years.
We use apples for many medicinal purposes as well. Apples and apple juice help us constipation and diarrhea. Many believe that apples prevent cancer, diabetes, and scurvy.
Even if you dislike apples, the trees are a beautiful addition to your backyard. When the apple blossoms bloom, the tree is a striking picture. However, you will want to be prepared when the apples fall from the tree in autumn.
The basis of Christianity, when Eve hands a forbidden fruit to Adam, is likely an apple. However, the Book of Genesis does not specify the fruit. It is often thought to be an apple.
The apple blossoms and apple create a beautiful backdrop. Countless artists use the trees. Apples are the sign of health and fertility. Apples and apple trees are significant features of many books. Sometimes, they are almost a character, while others are just the location of the story.
The wood from the apple is best used for smoking. It does not burn with a strong flame, but still burns slowly and produces a lot of smoke. To be sure, you have probably eaten applewood smoked bacon.
It is not an easy wood to work with. In fact, it is straight grained and quite dense. With the small size of the trunk, apple wood is not in high demand. Also, we only use it in fine woodwork. Many manufacturers use apple wood for furniture, instruments, and tools.
Apple trees are everywhere. This is pretty important considering it is the most consumed fruit in the United States. Overall, the tree will be a great addition in your backyard or garden. It is easy to plant and grow. As long as you keep it well watered and protect it from insects, your trees should grow tall. You should not expect apples from your tree for 3 to 8 years. Also, the wood can be used to add flavor to meat as the wood smokes for long periods of time without catching a flame.
We use the wood of apple trees to create instruments and tools. Generally speaking, apple trees do not live long lives. Most trees max out at 50 years of life and they stop producing apples in the last years. If you plan to add this fruit tree to your backyard, you will need to give it lots of sun, but otherwise it will be a beautiful sight.