Irish name: Crann úl
Latin name: Malus pumila
There are literally hundreds of varieties of apple trees in the world, although they can be divided into two main types: cooking apples and dessert apples. Have you ever taken a bite of a cooking apple by mistake? They really can be very bitter, but they make superb apple tarts and crumbles!
Some apples are sweet enough to eat straight from the tree. These are known as ‘dessert apples’. The deep red Discovery apples are sweet and juicy, while the crunchy Golden Delicious apples really quench your thirst on a hot day. What other varieties of dessert apples have you had?
Apple trees do not grow very tall, but are very attractive looking with beautiful flowers that blossom early in the summer. One of Ireland’s native apple trees is the Crab Apple, its crimson red buds opening out into blossoms of pinks and white during the month of May.
Late in April, just before the flowers appear, the leaves of the Crab Apple open. They are oval in shape, with uneven edges and have pointed tips. A very distinctive feature of the crab apple leaves is that they are green on top, but a soft creamy colour underneath. These contrasting shades of colour make the crab apple tree look very magical as the leaves flutter in the wind.
The Crab Apple is a deciduous tree and is home to lots of different insects. However, those that are in charge of helping to pollinate the tree are our sweet honey-making friends, the bees.
Apple picking is usually around the end of August to the end of October, depending on the variety. Birds love to feast on the yellow-green crab apples, and then disperse the seeds in the bushes, hedges and woodlands where they perch. However, they can be quite bitter to humans and are better used in cooking. Why don’t you ask an adult to help you make your own apple pie?
Do you know how to tell if an apple is ripe? Well, if it comes off easily when you twist it that means it should be ripe!