The Common Apple tree is a member of the rose family. The seeds from this tree were dispersed throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois during the late 18th century and early 19th century by Jonathan Chapman, who is most commonly referred to as Johnny Appleseed. The tree is grown commercially and also grows wild in the Pacific states, the eastern United States and in southern Canada.
The Common Apple tree is native to western Asia. It was brought into Europe during ancient times and transported by European settlers to North America prior to 1800. The tree served as a major cash crop for many farmers in the early 19th century and remained so throughout the early 20th century.
In addition to being referred to as the Common Apple, this tree species is sometimes referred to as the Paradise Apple or just plain apple. The scientific name of the tree is Malus pumila, yet due to the extensive crossing of genetic lines throughout history other scientific names for the tree include Pyrus malus, Malus domestica and Malus sylvestris. Because the tree has been purposely crossed throughout time to produce different varieties of apples, the size, color and taste of the apples vary.
The Common Apple tree has scaly bark that ranges in color from pink-brown to gray-brown. The leaves of the tree are oval, flat and broad with toothed edges. Leaves can grow to be 5 inches long and 2 1/2 inches wide. Mature trees range in height from 15 to 25 feet with canopy spreads that can reach 25 feet. Tree trunk diameters on mature trees are commonly around 24 inches. In the spring the tree produces white blossoms that have five petals. These blossoms are often tinged with pink. The tree develops fruit in the summer which can be red, yellow or green. The fruit reaches ripeness in the fall.
The tree prefers to grow in full sunlight and can thrive in most any soil type as long as it is moist and well draining. Because most apple trees do not self-pollinate, two or more trees of different species should be planted together so the trees will bear fruit. Planting different species of trees that have similar blooming times will provide healthier, more abundant fruit.
The fruit from the Common Apple tree can be consumed whole, or used in cooking to make pies, cakes, cider, jelly, preserves and other food products. The fruit is also used in a variety of household and medicinal products and the tree's wood is used to build small furniture pieces and wood crafts. The tree also serves as a food and shelter supply for wildlife.