Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

Cultivated Apple - Malus pumila


Key to Malus
1. Main leaves (at least some) generally lobed; fruit 10–15 mm, oblong, yellow to generally purple-red or -black ..... M. fusca
1' Main leaves unlobed; fruit generally > 30 mm, round, ± red ..... M. pumila [Jepson2012]

"The cultivated apple is a small deciduous tree species introduced from Europe that is rare in BC in the wild." [E-flora]
"Malus pumila is a deciduous Tree growing to 7 m (23ft) at a medium rate. It is hardy to zone (UK) 3 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in April. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.It is noted for attracting wildlife." [PFAF]
"Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil." [PFAF]

Origin Status: Exotic [E-flora]
"General: Small much-branched tree, 4-12 m tall; young twigs densely hairy or woolly." [IFBC-E-flora]
"Leaves: Alternate, deciduous, elliptic to oblong-egg-shaped, long-stalked, the blades 5-10 cm long, rather thick and veiny, abruptly short-pointed at the tip, broad at the base, irregularly blunt-toothed but not lobed, hairy or becoming smooth when mature." [IFBC-E-flora]
"Flowers: Inflorescences loose, flat-topped to rounded clusters of several flowers on short spur-shoots, the flowers on long woolly-hairy stalks; corollas white to pale pink, 3-5 cm across, appearing with or just in advance of the leaves, the petals 5, mostly 15-25 mm long; calyces 5-lobed, the lobes lanceolate, persistent, 5-10 mm long, longer than the tube; ovaries inferior; styles usually 5, hairy at the base." [IFBC-E-flora]
"Fruits: Fleshy pomes (apples), variable in size, shape and colour, more than 2 cm long, globe-, egg- or cone-shaped, with depression at both ends, 4- to 5-chambered, the flesh without grit cells; seeds 1 or 2 per chamber." [IFBC-E-flora]


  • Malus communis Poir. [E-flora]
  • Malus domestica [E-flora]
  • Malus malus [EWP]
  • Malus pumila var. niedzwetzkyana (Dieck) C. K. Schneid. [E-flora]
  • Malus sylvestris [E-flora]
  • Pyrus malus [E-flora]
  • Pyrus malus pumila. [PFAF]
  • Pyrus pumila (P. Mill.) K. Koch [E-flora]

Habitat/Range "Not known in a truly wild situation[74]. Range Europe, including Britain, from Scandanavia south and east to Spain, Greece and S.W. Asia.[PFAF] Mesic to moist forest edges, thickets, clearings and waste places in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; rare throughout BC; introduced from Europe." [IFBC-E-flora]


Hydrogen Cyanide

"All members of this genus contain the toxin hydrogen cyanide in their seeds and possibly also in their leaves, but not in their fruits. Hydrogen cyanide is the substance that gives almonds their characteristic taste but it should only be consumed in very small quantities. Apple seeds do not normally contain very high quantities of hydrogen cyanide but, even so, should not be consumed in very large quantities. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death." [PFAF]

Edible Uses

Other Uses

Medicinal Uses


The flower essence remedy Crab Apple is prepared by employing the boiling method. To prepare this Bach Flower Remedy you need to collect the entire bunch of flowers along with leaves, which grow at the branch terminals. It is advisable that you choose the flowers that are in faultless bloom from as many different trees as you can.

"People who find the flower essence remedy Crab Apple beneficial are those who have a feeling that they have something unlikeable and it ought to be rinsed out of their system."
"Crab Apple may be given to people when an individual is of the view that something is impure or they have been dishonoured either from the realm of their inner personality or from external sources. In such cases, the individual strongly wishes to be rinsed out from these things."
" The flower essence remedy Crab Apple is also effective in treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a condition wherein there is a persistent anxiety disorder, accompanied by one's disgraceful content. In addition, Crab Apple is the ideal remedy for body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), which was previously known as dysmorphophobia and occasionally denoted as body dysmorphia, which involves inflated, compulsive obsession with fictional or barely obvious physical flaws."
"This is especially right when they are continually engaged in dishonourable or immoral deeds and lament for such actions afterwards."
"It may be noted that the Bach Flower Remedy, Crab Apple facilitates in cleansing at every level.... Crab Apple may also be used to treat skin eruptions or possessiveness as well as overzealous actions of any type. This flower essence remedy may be effectively applied topically to the skin in the form of an ointment added with some water. In addition, you may also add a few drops (about 10 to 12 drops) of Crab Apple to your bath and also take it internally.
As in other conditions, the Crab Apple state of the mind may also occur to animals and it is obvious when they have an extreme desire for sanitation, displaying unnecessary grooming tendencies." [Herbs2000]

Select Activities

Cardioprotective (1; JNU; WOI); Digestive (f; CRC; EFS); Diuretic (f; CRC; EFS); Tonic (f; CRC; LMP); Vermifuge (f; CRC; WOI). [HMH Duke]

Further Medicinal Information

(Malus domestica) "...it is not often that they are linked with any particular ailment, (Galen prescribed apple wine as a cure-all (Krymow)), although advice from the Highlands of Scotland enjoins a decoction of apples and rowan, sweetened with brown sugar to be taken for whooping cough (Beith). A Yorkshire practice was to use a poultice of rotten apples for what were known as botches, described as small boils (Gutch. 1911). American opinion suggested that apples would relieve rheumatism (Thomas & Thomas), and another American domestic remedy is a lotion to cure dandruff, made of one part of apple juice to three parts of water (H M Hyatt)." [DPL Watts]

"There are one or two charms recorded, like this Devonshire wart cure: cut an apple in two, rub one half on the wart. Give it to the pig to eat, and eat the other half yourself (Choape). More widespread was a similar one for warts, which were rubbed nine times with an apple cut in two. The sections were re-united and buried where no human foot was likely to tread. In Northumberland the warts were opened to the quick, or until they bled, and then they were rubbed well with the juice of a sour apple. The apple was then buried (Drury. 1991). These are all simple transference charms, but there is one more, for rheumatism this time, that merely involved carrying half an apple in the pocket (Foster). Half a potato is more usual than an apple for this purpose, but a hazel nut is sometimes used instead." [DPL Watts]

"Only where a record specifically mentions crab apple (or ‘crab’) in the generic sense can it be taken to relate to apple trees of the kind most likely to be native to the British Isles and thus alone available before the sweet cultivated kinds were introduced (though that was well before Roman times, according to the latest authoritative opinion). Of such records there are only three, and two of them Irish: one a vague and unlocalised one of the use with buttermilk for a relaxed throat and hoarseness,249 the other from Sligo of a treatment for internal cancer250 (boiling the leaves and drinking the juice). The sole British record involved the juice, too: for bruises in Suffolk.251" [MPFT]

"In the East Riding of Yorkshire a piece of the fruit rubbed on a wart is reputed to turn it black and eventually cause it to drop off,253 so strong is the astringency.
No less prized for their ability to soothe have been hot poultices of rotten apples. Applied to ‘any sore places’ in Norfolk,254 these have been a treatment for earache in Wiltshire,255 small boils in the East Riding of Yorkshire256 and ‘rheumatism in the eye’ in some area(s) unspecified.257 According to this last source, decoctions of the flowers or fruit were also once used by young women as an astringent cosmetic. The sole record that can be added to that list is an application in Antrim to chilblained toes.258" [MPFT]


Fruit Pulp


Phytochemical Properties Displayed


"An easily grown plant, it succeeds in most fertile soils, preferring a moisture retentive well-drained loamy soil[1, 200]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a sunny position but succeeds in partial shade though it fruits less well in such a situation[1, 200]. A parent of the cultivated apple[200], it is occasionally cultivated for its edible fruit and also as a dwarfing rootstock[50]. There are some named forms[200]. The fruit is a good wildlife food source, especially for birds[200]. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus[200]. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus[200]." [PFAF]
Plant the seeds of an apple and you rarely get anything like the variety that you planted. The majority of them are of little value as apples. [EWP]
Wild or seedling apples can be used for practically all the purposes that the better cultivated varieties are put to although we prefer the latter. [EWP]

Rootstalk: "Used as a rootstock for the cultivated apples, there are several named varieties[50]." [PFAF]


  1. [E-flora]http://linnet.geog.ubc.ca/Atlas/Atlas.aspx?sciname=Malus pumila&redblue=Both&lifeform=2, Accessed Jan 12, 2014
  2. [PFAF]http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Malus+pumila, Accessed Jan 12, 2014
  3. [Herbs2000] Malus sylvestris, Accessed May 18, 2014

Page last modified on October 14, 2023