This paper will examine apple trees by categorizing them through the following classifications, the vascular system, structures, its responses, practicality, and ecological importance which will be presented in a topical manner. Classification
The classification of plants is the understanding of the relationships and similarities between plants. It is important to identify unknown species, to group or assign names to organisms and to provide common references for those already identified (Bergman, Carol & Senn, 1988). The apple tree belongs to the Plantae kingdom meaning it is a plant (Bingaman, 1999) and the Tracheophyta subkingdom or phylum, indicates that over the years it “developed an interior plumping system and rigid supporting tissues that allowed them to grow much bigger” (“Phylum tracheophyta”, 1996).
All these plants that have conducting tubes are vascular. Apple trees are in the Magnoliopsida class, meaning they are flowering plants (Mishra, 2010), and are in the Rosales order, so their flowers “are bisexual, usually have four or five petals and are flat or cup-shaped with fleshy fruits” (Durham, 2012). They are members of the rose family also known as Rosaceae family (“Rosaceae”, 2011), and of the genus Malus (Bingaman, 1999).
Giving the apple tree the scientific name Malus domestica (Girard, 1999). Originating in Asia, there are approximately seven thousand-five hundred varieties of apples known around the world (Smith, 1999), but the most popular are based on how many boxes are produced each year, these include red delicious, golden delicious, granny smith, Rome, Fuji, Macintosh, Gala, Jonathan, Idared and Empire apples (Girard, 1999). These plants are angiosperms with seeds, giving them the ability to have flowers.” Unlike gymnosperms, whose seeds are exposed to weather, animals and people, angiosperms have their seeds surrounded by flowers, which can offer incredible protection.
Many of these plants have an inner layer that surrounds the seed, storing food and protecting it from harm, and an outer layer that protects the seeds from the elements or animal attacks” (Wiess, 2003). Angiosperms can have two kinds of seeds, monocots or dicots. “Dicots include apple trees, cherry trees, roses, sunflowers and cacti. They have flowers with four or five petals and complex leaves with veins. The dicot fruit trees have two packages of cotyledons, by which they provide food for people and animals as well” (Wiess, 2003). The typical apple trees are deciduous with gray, purple or brown bark, with a broad often densely twiggy crown, with white flowers.
These flowers have pink undersides while blooming which from eventually a fruit will form known as the apple (Girard, 1999). The Malus trees range from four to thirty feet in height and fifteen feet in width. An apple is at least one inch in diameter varying shades of red, green or yellow (Harmon, 2004). The tree requires rich soil, moderate watering, good drainage and full sunlight to ensure a healthy growth (Hargitt , n.d). Vascular system
Malus domesticas are vascular plants, meaning that they have tubes that carry fluids, much like veins and arteries found in the human circulatory system. In plants, these tubes are called xylem and phloem and each has a specific function. The xylem carries water and chemicals, including nutrients, and the phloem carries sugar and other chemicals back through the plant and distribute it as needed.
The sugary substance is the result of photosynthesis and is used to feed the plant (Leschmann, 2005). However the structure of this system differs from the circulatory system in several ways, mainly because instead of the path starting with the heart, the vascular path starts off with the vascular bundles located in the roots. It contains the xylem, phloem and protective cells.
The two tubes are very different ,xylem is made up of dead cells forming wood, and phloem is composed of living cells under the bark in trees. Between xylem and phloem in the epidermis is a layer of vascular system known as the cambium. The sieve-tube and companion cells are in the phloem, the companion cells are in the sieve-tube which is responsible for transporting carbohydrates that go through the apple tree. (Ferreira, 2010) Leaf Structure
The Malus species all have the same type of medium sized, deciduous, green, alternately arranged, simple oval shaped leaves shown in the image to the left. The apex also known as the tip of the leaves is acute and the margin is serrated. It could be 5-12 cm long and 3-6 cm broad (Kruschandl , 2006). “They are downy on the underside when young but become hairless” (Dow, 2012). As labelled on the image above within the apple leaf there are veins which are basically tubes that carry water and nutrients throughout the plant, similar to veins in the human body.
The midrib is also labelled on this diagram, this is the central vein that all the other veins sprout off. Last but not least the stalk or petiole is to adjust the leaf as necessary, allowing them to get the maximum sunlight during the day (Mark, n.d). Stem Structure
This image shows the apple tree’s stem structure and the positioning of its major parts. The tree stem also known as the trunk is to support and elevate the leaves, trunks, blanches and twigs. It is also the major transport system for moving nutrients from the roots to the leaves. These travel along the most outer, most annual rings of the wood. Carbohydrates on the other hand move through the inner-bark in the opposite direction. The cambium labelled on diagram is the layer of cells between the bark and the wood that rapidly divides to produce inner bark and wood. Inside the cambium are the annual rings in which the pores carry water up to the leaves.
The outer annual rings are called sapwood which are light coloured. The center of the tree trunk is dark coloured and is called dead heartwood, where many chemicals are produced or deposited, and is usually resistant to decay. The bark is the collar produced by the trunk that holds the branch base. In the bark there are little notches where the leaves develop and scars where twigs and fruit have dropped off. (Coder & Midcap, 2005), (“Roots”, 2009) Root Structure
The apple tree’s illustration on the left, shows the root structure of the tree had the important jobs it fulfils; including absorbing water and minerals from the ground, holding the plant in place, storing food, and preventing soil erosions. There are two kinds of root systems, the tap and the diffuse root. The apple tree is part of the tap root system, where there is a main root that is larger than the other branching roots (“Roots”, 2009).
The apple tree’s root can go as deep as 60 feet, to reach groundwater. As it matures, “the tap root sloughs off and the tree develops a multi leveled root system with feeder and sinker roots that permeate different layers in the soil, generally from 3-4 feet below the soil surface ” (Dooley, 2000). Growth habits/ plant responses and stimuli
Commonly apple trees are easily adaptable and able to grow in a number of conditions, which is the reason they are found in orchards and in the wild from Canada to Florida to almost everywhere in the world (Bingaman, 1999). “No matter the type of apple tree, a great deal of moisture and full sunlight are required to ensure the health of the tree. Chemicals also known as hormones govern the timing of shoot and root growth, they are promoter hormones”
(Coder & Midcap, 2005). So adequate levels of potassium, calcium and boron help to promote good growth and quality of fruit and it is often beneficial to provide the tree with a yearly two-inch layer of compost”(Harmon, 2004). These trees grow best in soils with pH levels between 5.5 and 7.5 that drain well usually identified as sandy and clay loam.
These conditions are typically found at elevations between 0 and 2, 500 feet above sea level (Girard, 1999). Malus dimestica’s growth is eight to twelve feet per year. So when planting, these trees they should be spaced according to their ultimate size. Also it is recommended to prune mature trees to allow new growth (Hargitt , n.d). So the requirements of this plant are temperate and subtropical climates. Although apples do not flower in tropical climates because they have a chilling requirements(Kruschandl, 2006). This requires a certain amount of cold winter weather to end their dormancy and to promote spring growth (Marrotte, 2012). Also it is important to consider that not all varieties will grow in each temperate zone, so the suitable area should be chosen for each variety “(Flurge, 1997).
Similar to all other plants “apple trees have green leaves, a sure sign they perform the plant process of photosynthesis. To perform this life-sustaining process, they need a vascular system that can carry fluids up and down their height. This vascular system soaks up water and nutrients through the roots and delivers them to the leaves where photosynthesis occurs. The resulting sugary substance is then distributed to the plant to give it the energy it needs to grow, produce flowers and fruits and to continue photosynthesis” (Leschmann, 2005).
There are three types of tropism, phototropism, which is response to the light, geotropism, which is the response to gravity and chemotropism that involves the response to heat. These are the growth responses where the plant either grows towards or away from the stimulus (Unknown, 2010). From these three the most important one for the apple tree is phototropism, because it feeds itself and gains energy through photosynthesis. Practical knowledge of plants
Apple’s practical uses include food and vitamins for humans and animals. An apple is a great snack just by itself, but it could also be used in several other ways, such as canned, juiced or fermented. They are also important ingredients for many winter desserts, for example apple pie, and could be made into apple butter or apple jelly, and even cooked to eat in meat dishes. The very exotic uses are within the Tibet culture, they are known for producing apple milk as shown in the image below (Kruschandl, 2006).
Apples just by themselves are quite healthy, as they say “an apple a day helps keep the doctor away” (Kruschandl, 2006). However, other parts of the apple tree are also used to produce astringents, laxatives and diuretics, for instance the apple bark and peels are used in teas to help alleviate various ailments. There is an image of this tea on the right. (Bingaman,1999) Malus domestica s have been around for a very long time, originating from the area between the Caspian and the Black Sea. It is said that apples were the favourite fruit of the acient Greeks and Romans (Sin, 2012).
Apples were improved over thousands of years by early farmers. Alexander the geat is know for finding dwarfed apples in Asian Minor in 300 BC, which he brought back to Greece. They were brought to North America with colonists in the 1600’s. “In the 1900’s irrigation projects in Washington began and allowed the development the muli-billion dollar fruit industry, of which apple is the leading species. “("Apple – malus domestica," 2012). Ecological Importance
This fruit has great ecological importance , they are “not only tasty and healthy but they and their trees support an intricate web of life”. All members of the apple tree community depend on one another, because they cannot make seed or fruit if the bees do not come to feed on the nectar of its flowers. The cycle is contined with the earthworms that eat the leaves, improving the soil and helping the tree to grow. Then it progresses to the animals that eat the apples scattering the seeds so that new apple trees can grow (Pascoe & Kuhn, 2003). So apple trees have an important role in the ecosystem by giving shelter to animals and providing oxygen and clean air so we can breath.
The ecological issues surounding the Malus domestica species is that some occasionally could have fruiting issues, because of insect, deasese damage, or climate issues. If any of these negative impac ts occur there are two good solutions to plant two different varieties close together, so no pollination issue could occur or providing 2-3- inch layer of mulch around the tree for protection and moisture retention (Patterson & Gardener, 2012).
As presented in the paper the following classifications have shown the complexity of the simple apple tree, that is so common to Canada. It has also shown its importance not only in our ecological world, but also in our daily eating habits. It is not suprising that people call those they fonded “the apple of my eye”.
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