Herb: Apple

Latin name: Malus domestica

Synonyms: Malus sylvestris domestica, Pyrus malus

Family: Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Medicinal use of Apple:

The fruit is astringent and laxative. The bark, and especially the root bark, is anthelmintic, refrigerant and soporific. An infusion is used in the treatment of intermittent, remittent and bilious fevers. The leaves contain up to 2.4% of an antibacterial substance called "phloretin". This inhibits the growth of a number of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria in as low a concentration as 30 ppm. A ripe raw apple is one of the easiest foods for the stomach to deal with, the whole process of digestion taking about 85 minutes. The apple juice will reduce the acidity of the stomach, it becomes changed into alkaline carbonates and thus corrects sour fermentation. The apple is also an excellent dentifrice, the mechanical action of eating a fruit serving to clean both the teeth and the gums.

Description of the plant:


9 m
(30 feet)

to June

Habitat of the herb:

Not known in a truly wild situation.

Edible parts of Apple:

Fruit - raw, cooked or dried for later use. Apples are one of the most common and widely grown fruits of the temperate zone. There are a great many named varieties with differing flavours ranging from sour to sweet and textures from dry and mealy to crisp and juicy. There is also a wide range in the seasons of ripening with the first fruits being ready in late July whilst other cultivars are not picked until late autumn and will store for 12 months or sometimes more. See individual records for more details. The fruit of some cultivars is rich in pectin and can be used in helping other fruits to set when making jam etc. Pectin is also said to protect the body against radiation. An edible oil can be obtained from the seed. It would only really be viable to use these seeds as an oil source if the fruit was being used for some purpose such as making cider and then the seeds could be extracted from the remaining pulp.

Other uses of the herb:

The fruit is a source of pectin. Pectin is used as a thickener in jams etc and as a culture medium in laboratories. The apple is also an excellent dentifrice, the mechanical action of eating a fruit serving to clean both the teeth and the gums. The oil from the seed has been used as an illuminant. Wood - hard, compact, fine-grained. Used for turnery, tool handles, canes etc. It makes an excellent fuel.

Propagation of Apple:

Seed - this species is a hybrid and will not breed true from seed, though some interesting new fruiting cultivars can be produced. It is best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame. It usually germinates in late winter. Stored seed requires stratification for 3 months at 1C and should be sown in a cold frame as soon as it is received. It might not germinate for 12 months or more. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle. If given a rich compost they usually grow away quickly and can be large enough to plant out in late summer, though consider giving them some protection from the cold in their first winter. Otherwise, keep them in pots in a cold frame and plant them out in late spring of the following year. Cuttings of mature wood, November in a frame.

Cultivation of the herb:

Not known in a truly wild situation.

Known hazards of Malus domestica:

All members of this genus contain the toxin hydrogen cyanide in their seeds and possibly also in their leaves, but not in their fruits. Hydrogen cyanide is the substance that gives almonds their characteristic taste but it should only be consumed in very small quantities. Apple seeds do not normally contain very high quantities of hydrogen cyanide but, even so, should not be consumed in very large quantities. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.