Apples are the most prolifically grown fruit native to the United States. Their usefulness goes far beyond the innumerable edible cultivars produced over the years; apples have traditionally been used as a primary source for alcoholic beverages. Apple cider and apple cider vinegar are produced from apples as well. There is a somewhat common misconception that apples grow on vines, or that certain kinds of apples grow on vines. This is untrue, but there are a couple of reasons why the myth persists.
There is no exception to the rule: All apples grow on trees. There are myriad cultivars of apple, some of which are tall and round, some of which are short and thick, and some of which are thin, spindly and easily trainable. New cultivars are developed regularly, for better taste, stronger resistance to pests and disease, and for more manageable growth habits, but as a rule, all of these apple trees are still trees.
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There is a plant known as the vine apple that is indigenous to the American Northeast, but, contrary to its name, it is actually not an apple at all but a squash plant. The fruit of the vine apple is small and round, somewhat similar to the fruit of an apple. The fruit was named by the founder of the Rhode Island colony, Roger Williams, who had never seen a squash before. He reasoned that the plant must be an apple that grew on a vine, hence the name vine apple.
Espaliering Apple Trees
Espaliering is a common landscaping technique used for a number of trees and shrubs. A young tree is placed along a fence or a wall, and all branches are cut off that cannot be placed against the structure. The remaining branches are then tied to the fence or otherwise trained to continue growing along the flat surface, thus taking on a look that resembles that of a climbing vine. Though not especially productive for commercial growers, this is done with apple trees in home gardens quite frequently
Difficulties in Espaliering
Espaliering an apple tree can save space in a garden and provide beautiful interest at the same time, but it takes a lot of time and a lot of patience to complete. It can take five to seven years to produce a well-grown fruit-producing espaliered apple tree. To encourage growth along the wall, developing fruit must be picked for years, thus forcing the tree to concentrate on limb growth as opposed to fruit growth. Once you have established limbs and a desired structure a few years down the road, the focus will switch. Once an espaliered apple tree is well grown and established, limbs should be cut continually to encourage fruit growth.