MadSci Network: Botany

Re: What determines the number of seeds in an apple?

Date: Sat May 18 16:58:35 2002
Posted By: David Hershey, Faculty, Botany, NA
Area of science: Botany
ID: 1021744177.Bt

Cultivated apples are often classified as a hybrid species, Malus X 
domestica. 'Gala', 'Red Delicious', 'Fuji' and 'Macintosh' are different apple 
varieties or cultivars (cultivated varieties). 

The basic flower structure, and therefore fruit structure, is the same 
regardless of apple cultivar. Each apple fruit has five seed compartments 
(called carpels). Each carpel can contain a maximum of two seeds, for a maximum 
of ten seeds per apple fruit. One exception seems to be 'Northern Spy' apple, 
which may produce up to four seeds per carpel and up to twenty per fruit. Some 
cultivars, such as 'Jonagold', are reported to often have just three or four 
seeds. 'Jonagold' is a triploid which is probably the reason for its low seed 
set. You might want to check seed number in 'Jonagold' and other triploid 
cultivars, such as 'Rhode Island Greenings', 'Mutsu' 
or 'Crispin', 'Baldwin', 'Stayman Winesap', 'Belle de Boskoop', 'Blenheim 
Orange', 'Bramley', 'Gravenstein', 'Ribston', 'Jupiter' and 'Reinette dí 

Some apples have less than the potential maximum number of seeds due to 
incomplete pollination, fertilization failure, or because fertilized eggs fail 
to develop into normal or "full" seeds. Seeds that fail to develop properly are 
often flat. Apple fruits with few seeds are often reduced in size or lopsided 
so apple growers typically have bee hives in orchards to assure good 

If you examined many fruit of one apple cultivar, you would probably find some 
variation in seed number.


Malus domestica (Domestic Apple)	

The Science of Apples & How They're Grown

'Jonagold' seed number

Fruit Size and Fruit Quality

Pollination and Honey Bees

Lopsided Apple Photo

Flat seeds influence apple fruit quality

Effective Apple Pollination

List of Triploid Apples

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