Parts and types of apple trees

Before you can start the process of selecting and planting apple trees, it is important to understand some basic properties about the parts and types of apple trees. Knowing this fundamental tree knowledge will allow you to make informed decisions for your home orchards.

Types of apple trees

All of us know that when we buy apples at a grocery store, they are organized by the apple variety. However, when you plant an apple from seed, the new tree will be similar to the parent tree, but never identical. This is because the parent was pollinated by another tree and has genetics from two sources. These are known as “standard” apple trees

Standard apple tree

An apple tree grown from a pollinated apple seed.

Mixed genetics poses a problem to growers who wish to have specific varieties and types of apple trees. The ability to duplicate tree varieties was created through a process called grafting. This combines a scion with a rootstock to produce a tree with desirable characteristics.

Grafted apple tree

An apple tree containing two separate apple tree parts, scion and rootstock, grafted together to form a single tree.

Parts of a grafted apple tree

types of apple trees


A scion (or scionwood) is a piece of wood from the tree you wish to duplicate. When properly grafted, it will grow into a tree of the variety you select.


The rootstock makes up the root system of the tree you are producing. It has a large effect on the size and winter hardiness of the tree.


the process of attaching the scion to the rootstock. There are many types of grafting, but in general it involves splicing the two sections together prior to planting.

When a basic grafted tree is planted, the scion wood will develop into the portion of the tree above the soil. This gives the tree its variety, such as “McIntosh” or “Honeycrisp”. The rootstock will form the root system of the tree. It will have an effect on the size of the tree and its growth habits in different soils and climates. Both are very important factors in the success of the tree.

Trees can also be planted from seed. This is referred to as a “standard” or “wild” tree. The tree will possess some of the characteristics from the tree that it came from, as well as characteristics from the tree that pollinated this. Standard trees are an option often used for wildlife plantings, and have their benefits and drawbacks. These will be discussed later in the site.

Additional Resources

Related Products

Blog Posts


User Submission

Have anything else to add? Submit resources, links, photos, and other items here. Or submit your own write-up on the topic!


Join the Plotter’s Edge newsletter!

Get updates on the latest products, blogs, seed reminders, and more!