Malus 'Empire'
Common Name: semi-dwarf apple 
Type: Fruit
Family: Rosaceae
Zone: 4 to 7
Height: 12.00 to 15.00 feet
Spread: 12.00 to 15.00 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: Pinkish white
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: High
Suggested Use: Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy, Fragrant, Good Cut
Attracts: Birds, Hummingbirds, Butterflies
Fruit: Showy, Edible
Tolerate: Air Pollution


Best grown in deep, loamy, moderately fertile, slightly acidic, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates average garden soils, but unamended heavy clay soils which waterlog easily and drain poorly should be avoided. Generally, the more dwarfing the rootstock, the greater the need for soil fertility. Needs full sun for maximum flower and fruit production. More than one variety must be planted in order to facilitate best pollination and subsequent fruit production. For basic cultural information on the growing of apples, see Home Fruit Production, Apples (University of Missouri Extension publication G6021), which is available for inspection or purchase at the Kemper Center Information Desk.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Malus is a genus of about 35 species of deciduous trees and shrubs from Europe, Asia and North America. Some eating apples are hybrids but others are attributed to M. domestica or M. pumila.

Edible apple cultivars do not grow particularly well on their own roots. As a result, apple varieties sold in commerce today have all been grafted onto rootstocks which, inter alia, control the size of the tree. Rootstocks are generally classified as follows (tree height in parenthesis): dwarf (8-10'), semi-dwarf (12-15') and standard (18-25' or more). All trees bear full-size fruit, however. Most trees sold today for the home apple grower are grafted onto dwarfing rootstocks (dwarf or semi-dwarf), resulting in trees which, in comparison to standard trees, are (1) easier to manage (spray, prune and harvest) and (2) produce fruit at an earlier age.

Genus name from Latin is an ancient name for apple.

'Empire' is a semi-dwarf, McIntosh-type apple tree which grows 12 to 15' tall. Pinkish white flowers appear in April and medium sized, red apples mature in mid-September. May be the best McIntosh type for Missouri.


Potential disease problems include apple scab, cedar apple rust, fire blight, leaf spot and powdery mildew. Insect pests include aphids, maggots, borers and spider mites. 'Empire' is resistant to fire blight and rust.


'Empire' is a semi-dwarf apple tree. It is shaped, pruned and grown primarily with a view toward fruit production, and its ornamental features are considered secondary. It should be grouped in a sunny location with other Malus varieties. April apple blossoms and fall fruit add color and interest to the landscape.