The apple tree is one of the earliest known of cultivated fruits and its depiction has percolated down through the ages in our legends, folklore and traditions to symbolise such things as knowledge, sin, beauty, redemption, love and sexuality, youth and good health.
Globally, you will find 7,000 different varieties of apple cultivated in many shades, size and taste.
Malus domestica is more commonly known as the domestic apple and is one of the most widely available of cultivated tree fruits. It belongs to the flowering plant family Rosaceae which consists of approximately 30 deciduous shrubs and trees. You may recognise the other species from this group as the sour and unpalatable crab apples or wild apples that we would often try to munch on as a child.
It can be recognised by its small stature and usually reaches 512 meters in height, exhibiting a broad, and dense crown that can be pruned over a period of years to provide a good strong support to for the surprising amount of fruit that can be produced.
This type of apple can be found in the Northern Hemisphere, Europe, Asia, and North America and provide not only health benefits for people, they represent a home for many animal species and look very pretty too!
The harmonious relationship the apple holds with pollinating insects represents an important ecological niche in the food chain, providing food for nectar collecting insects and the larvae of many different species of Lepidoptera.
The fruit can range from 1 to 4 cm diameter growing in the wild, compared to the cultivated orchard apple which can vary in size and can range from between 6 cm (M. pumila) and 8 cm (M. sieversii), with some hybrids reaching even larger sizes.
Although the apple is delicious to eat, it cannot be said to hold much nutritional value – yet the health benefits gained are many. They include: cholesterol-lowering compounds, antioxidants, and anti clotting agents. Apples help to reduce blood pressure, are anti-inflammatory, and help to prevent cancer and tumors.
Apples provide a good amount of carbohydrates and fiber and varying amounts of protein, vitamins and minerals, notably vitamin C, B6, vitamin K, and manganese.
Apples can be stored in a variety of ways such as dried, frozen, wrapped in paper, preserved, and made into cider. They are full of flavour and make a delightful and tasty addition to any healthy eating plan and aid in calorie reduced diets.