Malus kirghisorum Al. Fed. & Fed.

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Article from New Trees, Ross Bayton & John Grimshaw


Common Names

  • Kirghiz Apple


  • M. sieversii (Ledeb.) M. Roem. var. kirghisorum (Al. Fed. & Fed.) Ponomar.


United States Department of Agriculture.


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Article from New Trees, Ross Bayton & John Grimshaw

Tree to 10 m; crown broad and umbrella-shaped. Branchlets long, thin and unarmed. Leaves deciduous, papery, 5–10 × 3–6 cm, broadly oblanceolate, upper surface glabrous, lower surface glabrous or slightly pubescent, margins denticulate, apex acute; petiole short, pubescent. Flowers 3–5 cm diameter, pale pink. Fruits extremely variable; yellowish, greenish or reddish, globose to cylindrical, 3–8 × 3–8 cm. Flowering April to May, fruiting August to September (Kazakhstan). Dzhangaliev et al. 2003. Distribution KAZAKHSTAN; KYRGYZSTAN. Habitat Forms pure apple forests or mixes with other small trees, primarily on north-facing slopes between 1200 and 1800 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 4. Conservation status Not evaluated. Illustration Juniper & Mabberley 2006; NT513. Taxonomic note The exact status of the Kirghiz Apple is debated. Fiala (1994) treated it as a crabapple cultivar (Malus ‘Kirghisorum’). Dzhangaliev et al. (2003) maintain it as a full species, while Juniper & Mabberley (2006) regard it as a distinct species occurring sympatrically with M. pumila in the Tian Shan, and intermediate between it and M. baccata in characters. Local botanists reported to Barrie Juniper that hybrids exist between M. kirghisorum, M. pumila and M. baccata, but he did not personally observe any (B. Juniper, pers. comm. 2007).

Malus kirghisorum is well established in cultivation throughout our area, flourishing in areas as widely disparate as Los Angeles and Warsaw, though principally in botanical rather than private gardens. Numerous accessions from the wild are maintained at the USDA Plant Genetic Resources Unit (part of the National Germplasm Repository) at Geneva, New York and in other research collections. The British champion is an 8.5 m specimen at the Hillier Gardens which bears a striking resemblance, it has to be said, to any old apple tree. It has a broad rounded crown on a short trunk. The flowers are pretty, but the crabs are its principal feature, colouring well in the autumn.


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