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Malus pumila (apple)

Malus pumila is the wild ancestor of thousands of varieties of cultivated apple.
Fruit of an apple

Malus pumila (apple) fruit (Photo: Vilma Bharatan)

Species information

Scientific name: 

Malus pumila Miller

Common name: 


Conservation status: 

Widespread in cultivation.


Most varieties are adapted to temperate climates and prefer fertile, cool, damp soil. Suitable for sandy, loamy, and clayey soils.

Key Uses: 

Food, cider production, firewood.

Known hazards: 

Contains the toxin hydrogen cyanide in the seeds and possibly in the leaves, but not in the fruit. When consumed in excess hydrogen cyanide can cause respiratory failure and even death.


Genus: Malus

About this species

Apple is the fruit of Malus pumila, one of the most widely cultivated fruit trees in temperate regions of the world - growing in over 93 countries. It belongs in the family Rosaceae, which also contains roses and other edible fruit species such as pears, plums and raspberries.

Selection over thousands of years has produced an enormous diversity of apple cultivars varying in shape, colour, sweetness, crispness and storability. Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Braeburn, Cox, Pink Lady, Royal Gala and Bramley represent just a few apple varieties found in supermarkets in temperate countries. The majority of apples are eaten fresh although there are varieties grown for cooking, canning, juicing and cider and vinegar production.

Apples are rich in vitamin A and C, and are an excellent source of carbohydrates and fibre. Beyond their value as a food crop, apples have played a significant role in culture, art, history, religion and technology. Apple trees blossom in the spring and many types are very ornamental.


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