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Apple trees are typically 4–12 m tall at maturity, with a dense, twiggy crown. The leaves are 3–10 cm long, alternate, simple, with a serrated margin. The flowers are borne in corymbs, and have five petals, which may be white, pink or red, and are perfect, with usually red stamens that produce copious pollen, and a half-inferior ovary; flowering occurs in the spring after 50–80 growing degree days (varying greatly according to subspecies and cultivar).
There are more than 7,500 known cultivars of apples, resulting in a range of desired characteristics. Different cultivars are bred for various tastes and uses, including in cooking, fresh eating and cider production. Domestic apples are generally propagated by grafting, although wild apples grow readily from seed. Trees are prone to a number of fungal, bacterial and pest problems, which can be controlled by a number of organic and non-organic means.
At least 69.6 million metric tons of apples were commercially harvested worldwide in 2010 from 4.7 million hectares of orchards, with a value of over $14.4 billion. China produced about 45% of this total. The United States is the second-leading producer, with more than 7.5% of world production. Turkey is third, followed by Poland, Iran, Italy, and France.
Apples are often eaten raw, but are often processed into juice or applesauce, and can also be found in many foods (especially desserts). Many beneficial health effects have been found from eating apples; however, the seeds are slightly poisonous and two forms of allergies are seen to various proteins found in the fruit (see details in Wikipedia article, below).