apple trees

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Someone mentioned to me how all the apple trees would be crab apples unless we cloned and grafted other tree types onto them?? Idk if this is even right but can someone explain apple trees to me?? I did go apple picking and saw the stumps for the trees are different from the actual tree. Also what is a crab apple? I have questions. Thanks!! Hahaha

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7 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Crab apples are relatives of orchard apples, with smaller fruit that’s often sour. They’re sometimes used in cooking or preserves but not often eaten raw.

Apples, like people, get a mix of genetics from the male and female parent. They’re not self pollinating, so the genetics come from two different trees. Thus the seeds in an apple don’t have the same genetics as the flesh of the apple. So grafting makes a clone, generically identical to the source, but using seeds doesn’t.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Apples aren’t “true to type”.

The genetics for the characteristics of their fruit are extremely complex/unpredictable. If you take an apple seed from a tree and plant it it has almost no chance of being meaningfully similar to the tree it came from, and probably either tastes bad and/or is really small. I’ve heard these called “crab apples”, but that may be a regional thing.

You could plant literally thousands of apple seeds and wait for the trees to mature before you got a single tree that produced a tasty, nice sized fruit and a decent quantity of it, and then it might be a feeble tree so poorly suited for agriculture.

The result it it takes a lot of time and effort to breed new apple variants.

But…. Once you find one what you can do is take a cutting from it and then “graft” it to a root from another apple tree – ie attach it to a root system cut from another tree. The tree that grows will be a genetic clone of the cutting and will produce the same delicious apples.

At the same time you can pick the root half of the splice from a tree type that is very hardy and resistant to disease, these traits will carry into the root system of the new tree, because the roots are genetic clones of the tree they came from, thus giving you a hardy root system.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Is not just apples, Pretty much all fruits.

They won’t grow up from a seed that you planted. The tree will create another different Kind of similar fruit at the one you eat (Or the seed planted).

[A good rule of thumb is that if the fruit is less than 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter, it’s considered a crab apple.](https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/can-you-eat-crab-apples#safety)

Anonymous 0 Comments

They will also only cross pollinate. I bought my dad a present that had 4 different varieties grafted onto one root stock (was a semi-adult, about 10 foot high).

He must have really, properly fucked someone off at some point (he could be a polarising figure!), because we got up one morning to find that someone had gone to the trouble to dig a hole next to it specifically to cut the tap root and kill it.

Anonymous 0 Comments

[Johnny Appleseed](https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/real-johnny-appleseed-brought-applesand-booze-american-frontier-180953263/) may be of interest.

He planted apple seeds, he had religious objections to grafting. The apples that grew were nearly all ‘spitters’, too bitter to eat but good for cider.

You’ll get a random apple type from a seed. The commercial varieties (Cox, Bramley, Braeburn, etc.,) were the grower’s equivalent of winning the lottery, extreme good luck. They were propagated from the original tree by grafting cuttings onto a rootstock sapling.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Thanks for everyone’s comments, this is genuinely so interesting!!

Anonymous 0 Comments

Compared to domestic apples, crab apples are a different but related plant. Colloquially, apples grown from seed are sometimes also called crab apples because the fruit is usually undesirable. The evolutionary strategy of wild apples is to have a wide variety of traits in the next generation because the tree can’t control where the seeds will be dropped or what the climate is going to be like in the future. On occasion, feral apple trees do produce attractive fruit and those strains get grafted to preserve the desirable qualities. I once went for a hike on an army instalation and at each training area there were apple trees where soldiers had tossed cores in the bushes. Most of the apples were hard and sour but occasionally they were not. When I found a good tree I picked a few and took them home to make a pie. The pie was amazing because it was made of a mix of apples that were unique to those trees and which you cannot buy in stores