Life Cycle of an Apple Seed


Growing apple trees from seed is seldom done anymore. Most trees sold commercially are grafted hybrids. The seeds from their fruit is not likely to produce fruit similar to the original tree but rather similar to one or the other of the trees used in the graft. Still, following the life cycle of the apple seed, from its beginning through development into a tree which then produces fruit and ultimately new seeds, is an exciting process.


Apple seeds are enclosed inside of the apple fruit. Typically, you can expect five or six seeds from each apple. Apple seeds must endure a cold period, similar to experiencing a winter in the climate in which they were grown. The manual process for doing this with seeds you collect is called stratification. Seeds must remain cold and dormant for several months, and this can be accomplished in your freezer.


In early spring, the seeds will gradually warm up as temperatures rise. If your seeds are in the freezer, move them outdoors, plant them in the ground and allow them to warm up. When the rains come, the seed coat will fall off and the germination process begins. The roots develop and the stem emerges within a couple of weeks of consistently warm weather. The first leaves begin to bud out.


Saplings are young trees. They are considered saplings until they reach about 5 to 6 feet in height. This usually takes one to two years depending on growing conditions and tree variety. During this time, the apple tree develops several main branches and numerous smaller branches. Pruning to shape the tree for health and ease of harvest should begin during this time.


Apple trees come in many varieties from dwarf to semi-dwarf to regular. Each will reach a different height and width at maturity. Smaller trees will reach about 15 feet while full-size trees can easily reach 30 feet tall or more. Sometime around the third to fourth year, trees will begin to bear fruit. The life expectancy is up to 60 years for many types.


In the third or fourth year, flowers will begin to bloom. Some trees are self-fruiting, meaning they can pollinate without another apple variety, while others must cross-pollinate with another variety of apple tree. Once pollination occurs, the petals drop off and fruit production begins. Apples take several months to develop to maturity, depending on the variety. Late summer to early autumn is when most varieties are ready to harvest.

Full Cycle

Once apples are ripened, they begin to fall from the tree or be picked by humans. Animals also enjoy eating the fruit. Whether the transportation of the fruit happens through human invention or animal, the fruit is often carried away from the tree, where it is eaten or decays naturally. The seeds are once again exposed and the apple seed cycle begins anew.

Keywords: apple tree, seeds, life cycle

About this Author

Theresa Leschmann has been writing since 2005. Her work has appeared in the "Southern Illinois Plus" and on numerous websites. She is a property manager who writes about gardening, home repair, business management, travel and arts and entertainment topics. She is pursuing an associate's degree in English from Oakton Community College.