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M. domestica is the correct name for the orchard apples in general, and for escapes and naturalised trees deriving from them. Superficially, they are remarkably uniform in their essential botanical characters but there is no doubt that they are of hybrid origin. They have in common the following characters: young stems covered with woolly down. Leaves dull green, elliptic-ovate, usually rounded at the base, densely woolly beneath, margins irregularly saw-toothed. Flower-stalks, calyx-tube, and outside of calyx woolly. Fruits indented at the base and usually so at the apex; calyx persistent in fruit.
The domestic apple has evolved, under human influence, from various species found wild in Europe and Asia – all of them belonging to the series Pumilae. Those to which it shows the greatest resemblance are M. dasyphylla Borkh. of the Danube basin and N. Balkans; M. praecox (Pallas) Borkh. of European Russia; and M. sieversii (Ledeb.) Roem. of Russian Central Asia (the resemblance to this last is said to be very close). Other species that have made their contribution are M. sylvestris and M. prunifolia.
The orchard apples do not, of course, come within the scope of this work, but some with flowers of a deeper pink than ordinary have been recommended for garden planting. Such, for example, are the cooker ‘Arthur Turner’ and the dual-purpose ‘Upton Pyne’.
The astrakhan apples appear to be primitive forms of garden apple showing what is probably the influence of M. prunifolia in their more deeply toothed leaves, and their longer-stalked and often bloomy fruits. Miller knew the White Astrakhan or Transparent apple, introduced from Russia about the middle of the 18th century. In this the fruits are translucent yellow with a red tinge on one side. In the Red Astrakhan, which is, or was until recently, still cultivated as an orchard variety in the USA, the fruits are a bright red, covered with plum-like bloom, long-stalked. In both the fruits are conical.