Herb: Chinese Apple

Latin name: Malus prunifolia

Synonyms: Pyrus prunifolia

Family: Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Edible parts of Chinese Apple:

Fruit - raw or cooked. A bitter flavour. Fruits we have tasted have been astringent rather than bitter, though some cultivars and forms are not at all bitter. A fruit of the species, tasted at Kew in October 1991, had a sweet pleasant taste, was mealy and of low acidity. The fruit can be used fresh or in preserves etc. The fruit is about 20mm in diameter, though some forms are considerably larger.

Description of the plant:


8 m
(26 feet)

to May

Habitat of the herb:

Slopesand plains from sea level to 1300 metres.

Other uses of Chinese Apple:

This species is an excellent stock for grafting apple trees.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - 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 Chinese Apple:

Slopesand plains from sea level to 1300 metres.

Medicinal use of the herb:

None known

Known hazards of Malus prunifolia:

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.