Apples: A Class Act
Life Cycle of Apple Trees
Background Information: In winter the apple tree rests.
On the branches are buds, some of which contain leaves and others
that contain five flowers. With warmer spring weather, the leaf
buds unfold and flower buds begin to grow on the ends of the twigs.
Honeybees are attracted to the apple flowers by nectar and the
scent of the petals. As the bee collects nectar, it also picks up
pollen. When the bee lands on a flower on another tree, it brushes
against the pistil of the flower, leaving pollen grains on the sticky
stigma. The pollen grains send tubes down through the styles to
reach the ovary (pollination). Through the filament the sperm present in pollen can reach the ovules that are in the ovary. The fertilized
ovules will become seeds.
The outer wall of the ovary develops into the fleshy white part
of the apple. The inner wall of the ovary becomes the apple core
around the seeds.
In summer, the apples grow bigger and gradually change color, and
the tree produces new growth. In fall, the apples ripen. About two
weeks before the harvest, the apples' food supply from the tree
is cut off and the apples become sweeter. Most apples are harvested
by hand, primarily in September and October.
The flowers have many parts that are crucial to the formation
- Sepals - five green, leaf-like structures
that make up a flower's calyx
- Petals - the part of a flower that attracts
insects by their color and scent
- Stamens - the male reproductive part made
up of an anther and filament
- Anther - the part of the stamen that produces
- Filament - the stalk of the stamen
- Pistil - female part of the flower, made
up of a stigma, style, and an ovary
- Stigma - the top of a flower's pistil
- Style - the part of a pistil that connects
the stigma and the ovary
- Ovary - the rounded base of the pistil, inside
of which are five compartments each containing two ovules,
female reproductive cells that can become seeds
- Picture Books - Students can make picture books explaining
the life cycle of an apple tree. They may enjoy creating the books
for younger students.
- Illustrated Glossary - Students make an illustrated glossary
in booklet form defining the key words for the apple tree's life
- Apple Tree Throughout the Seasons - Students paint or
use colored chalk to show the changes the apple tree goes through
- Drawing Diagrams - Students draw detailed diagrams of
the parts of the flower of the apple tree.
- Dissecting Apple Blossoms - If apple trees grow nearby,
clip some blossoms and let the students dissect them in order to
find the flower parts.
- Helpful Bees - Ask for volunteers to research how commercial
growers utilize bees in their orchards.
- Printing with Apples - Cut apples in half with different
colors of tempera paint, make apple prints. Students can print with
the apples on different colors of construction paper. They may want
to design their own greeting cards using the apple print motif.
- Apple Dolls - Native Americans used apples to make applehead
dolls. To make these shriveled-faced dolls, peel an apple and cut
away the lower sides to form a chin. Carve a nose and a mouth and
scoop out eyes. Carefully scoop out the core of the apple and sprinkle
salt inside. Stuff it with cotton. Insert a pencil or stick into
the bottom of the apple, and use beads or beans for the eyes. Sprinkle
the apple with lemon juice and salt and let the applehead dry for
at least two weeks. When dry, add yarn for hair and scraps of material
- Apple Creatures - Although young students like this activity,
older ones still enjoy it, too. Ask students to create apple creatures
using apples, toothpicks, marshmallows, and raisins. They might
also use construction paper to add feathers, curly tails, or other
Adapted from Apples: A Class Act published
by the U.S. Apple Association. If you would like additional information, please
contact: U.S. Apple Association, P.O. Box
1137, McLean, VA 22101-1137, (703) 442-8850