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Malus domestica Borkh.

Malus domestica Borkh.




Malus pumila auct. non Miller, Pyrus malus L. (in part), Malus communis Poir. ex Lamk (in part).

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Epal.
English Apple.
Indonesia Apel.
Philippines Mansanas.
Thailand Appoen.
Vietnam Pom.
French Pommier.

Geographical Distributions

The cultivated Malus domestica today is believed to have been derived from Southwestern Asia. At present, M. domestica is cultivated all over the world. The main areas of cultivation are Western Europe, the Soviet Union, China, the United States, Turkey, Iran, Japan and Argentina.


M. domestica is a small to medium-sized tree that can reach up to 5-10 m tall, freely branching with long shoots and various types of short shoots (spurs) with a single trunk. The young stem and twigs are hairy.

The leaves are elliptic-ovate, measuring 4-13 cm x 3-7 cm, rounded at the base, with irregularly saw-toothed margins and usually densely hairy beneath. The flowers are largely terminal on spurs and in several-flowered fascicles. The pedicel and sepal are usually woolly while the sepal persistent in fruit. There are 5 white to pinkish petals and fall off after anthesis. There are 15-20 stamens and 5 styles. The ovary is 4-5-celled.

The fruit is a pome, spherical, ellipsoid to obovoid, usually more than 5 cm in diametre, varying in colour, sweet or acid and much longer than the pedicel. The endocarp is coriaceous. The fruit pulp is without stone cells.

The seeds are brown and mostly 2 in each cell.

Ecology / Cultivation

At high latitudes, M. domestica requires a mild growing season (no extremes of sunshine, temperature or humidity), a sufficiently cold winter to break dormancy and excellent soil conditions to limit stress, as this would affect fruit quality and size as well as floral development (if more severe) for the next crop. Windbreaks are needed for exposed sites. In the tropics, a short growth cycle requires favourable (mild) growing conditions throughout the year, as may be found close to the equator: altitudes of 800-1200 m (temperature 16-27°C), sunshine more than 50% of potential sunshine duration, rainfall 1600-3200 mm, relative humidity of 75-85% and good soils with irrigation facilities. For an annual growth cycle in the tropics, there should be a prominent change of seasons, the growing season meeting the above requirements, whereas the off-season should preferably be overcast as well as cool, since low light levels as well as low temperature appear to have a dormancy-breaking effect. Such conditions are usually found further from the equator at elevations of 1200-1800 m.

Line Drawing / Photograph



  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 2: Edible fruits and nuts.

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