John Downie a cultivar of Crab apple and a very sturdy little tree. As it is a cultivated type of tree it is not classed as a native tree species of the UK - only the true Crab apple tree is. It is widely planted due to it's growing habit, flowers and edible fruit. At maturity it can reach heights typically between 8 - 10 metres. This makes it a very good tree for even small gardens and green spaces. The crown / spread of the tree is also quite small and is usually between 4 - 8 metres. With the right conditions it can happily live to up 100 years and during this time produce many harvests of edible fruit. Mistletoe is quite a common sight on apple trees (including John Downie) and in small amounts is not a problem to the health of the tree.
Like many species of Crap apple it is fairly tolerant of most soil conditions. They can even grow in clay based soils - as long as the drainage is good. They can tolerate partial shade although thrive best in full sun. They are at their best between 20 - 50 years of age. You are most likely to come across John Downie in a private garden rather than public green space. The history of this tree goes back to 1875 in Lichfield England and was raised by Mr E Holmes. The tree was named after his friend and fellow nurseryman John Downie from Scotland.
The leaves are elliptic to ovate with finely serrulate margins. They are usually 8cm long and 5cm broad
John Downie is a small tree with an ovoid habit and spreading canopy
The flowers are white with five petals and transform the tree in late April / May time. They are insect pollinated and a favourite of bees and honey bees. It is also one of the self-fertile crab apple cultivars and does not need a partner tree for pollination. On a breezy day in the late spring (May) the falling petals make it look like it's snowing - another attractive feature of this great little tree. Like most apple trees they are hermaphrodite which means both male and female parts are found within the same flower.
The flowers are arranged in 5 white petals and are insect pollinated
The buds are stubby from a distance but close up they are pointed, slighly hairy and browinish / pink in colour
The fruit of John Downie is quite unusual when compared to your typical 'shop' apple. They are ovoid in shape and usually around 4cm in length. They are typically in small clusters of up to 10 apples and a mature tree can easily have several thousand of these small edible fruits. Although the skin and flesh are edible the seeds should not be eaten as they do contain small amounts of cyanide. The apples are best used for jams and preserves rather than being eaten raw or for other cooking purposes.
The fruit is ovoid in shape and usually up to 4cm in length. The colours vary from orange to red in the early autumn
The bark is greyish brown and rough in older trees
The leaves are elliptic to ovate with finely serrulate margins. They are usually 8cm long and 5cm broad. They are slighly wavy and the underside is a dull green compared to the surface. They leaf arrangement is alternate and during the Autumn the leaves are a mix of yellow and green for the best part. The bark is greyish brown and smooth in younger trees but rough and flaky in older trees.
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