Malus sieversii is a wild apple native to the mountains of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and China. Research has recently shown that this species is the principal ancestor of the domesticated apple (Malus domestica) and is therefore a globally important genetic resource.
It is a deciduous tree growing to 10m, with a very similar appearance to the domestic apple. The leaves are green and ovate and unlike other domesticated varieties the leaves go red in autumn. Flowers are 3cm in diameter and pinkish, tinged rose when in bud, the fruit is yellowish green, tinged red and up to 7cm in diameter
In its native range it grows on mountain summits, slopes and valleys from 1200 to 1300m. This species is vulnerable to extinction because of its limited range and exploitation.
In Kazakhstan, for example, its habitat has declined by over 70% in the last 30 years. Expansion and development of agriculture and overgrazing have led to the loss and degradation of this species habitat. Genetic erosion from grafting of commercial varieties and hybridisation are also a threat.
Did you know?
Kew’s Millenium Seed Bank Partnership currently provides ex situ conservation for more than 3,900 tree species