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The Mac Apple Tree

Apples are practically synonymous with the Mac. The Mac Apple tree is not only one of the most historically successful apples of all time, it’s also had an impact throughout our culture. If you’re looking to grow a piece of history and your yard, the Mac Apple is the fruit you’ve been looking for.

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McIntosh apples.

Let’s take a look at the history of the Mac Apple, how to grow and take care of the Mac Apple tree, and a few fun things you can do with the fruit from this tree. It’s time to “think different” about the Mac Apple. 

History of the Mac Apple Tree 

The history of the Mac Apple goes all the way back to the American Revolutionary War.

John McIntosh fell in love with a woman named Dolly Irwin. Irwin’s parents were loyalists and fled the United States as a revolutionary war took a turn against England. McIntosh traveled to Canada and searched for his long-lost love, but was never able to reunite with her. McIntosh settled in Canada as a farmer.

McIntosh discovered a variety of apple seedlings growing on his land. After planting them next to his house, he began to notice that a few of them had particularly good fruit. Over the generations, his family would begin the hard work of cloning the particularly good Red McIntosh apples. The earliest known sale of the Mac Apple is around 1836.

Today, the Mac Apple is the official national apple of Canada. However, this is only the start of the cultural impact that this apple has had. Mac Apples aren’t just a delicious fruit, they’re also one of today’s best-selling computer brands.

Apple employee Jeff Raskin named the Mac line of computers after the McIntosh Apple. Between its reputation as one of the most delicious and versatile apples out there and its status as the logo and branding for today’s hottest tech company, the Mac Apple is one of the most culturally significant apples today. 

What should you do if you want to plant this trendsetter of an apple in your yard? 

Mac Apple Tree Characteristics

You can’t miss a Mac Apple Tree when you spot one. These trees can grow up to 18 feet tall and have a spread of up to 12 feet. Their vibrant green leaves contrast nicely with the bright red fruit that they grow.

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McIntosh apple trees.

Mac Apple blossoms are also eye catching and help make this tree a great choice for ornamental gardening. The popularity of the Mac Apple tree also makes sure that this is a great choice for a wide range of yards throughout the North American regions.

If you want to plant a Mac Apple tree, here’s what you’re going to need to do. 

Planting Zones 

Our full guide on how to grow a Mac Apple Tree will give you everything you need to know to get started. If you want the crash course, however, here’s everything you need to know to get started.

Mac Apple trees do best in planting zones 4 through 8. There is a twist when it comes to planting this apple tree in these zones. Mac Apple trees tend to do better in climates that have colder winters than other apple cultivars. So if you live up north, and you face harsh winters, the Mac Apple might be a great choice for you.

Size and Spacing

You can follow the golden rule of spacing apple trees when it comes to the Mac Apple.

These trees have a maximum spread of around 12 feet. This means you’re going to want to give at least 12 feet of space in between one Mac Apple tree and another. Keep in mind that spacing also includes other plants around the Mac Apple tree. Taller plants, and even buildings, can crowd out the Mac Apple tree and cut down on its light. Likewise, a large Mac Apple tree casts a lot of shade and can prevent smaller plants from getting the sunlight that they need. 


While the Mac Apple is one of the most popular apple cultivars in Canada and the northeastern regions of the United States, it is not a self-pollinating apple.

This means that you’re going to need some complementary pollinators in order to make sure that this apple tree can bear fruit. There are a wide range of apples that you can choose from when picking potential pollinators for your Mac Apple tree. You can choose from Fuji, Courtland, Jonathan, in a wide range of other apples to cross-pollinate to this cultivar.

Now that you’ve got the dirt on planting the Mac Apple tree, let’s get you up to speed on how to take care of one.  

Mac Apple Tree Care

Mac Apple trees are known for their resilience and beginner-friendly status. One of the reasons why these apple trees have become so popular is that they are very easy to plant and take care of. Here’s the basic rundown of what you’ll need to know for keeping your Mac Apple happy and healthy. 


Mac Apples are a full sunlight apple tree. This means that they need up to 8 hours of sunlight a day and no less than 6 hours of sunlight. You’re going to want to plant this apple tree and a part of your yard that will give it the most possible access to sunlight. 


Like most other apple trees, the Mac Apple does best in well-drained soil that has a medium moisture level. Over-watering this apple tree can lead to root rot and other health problems.


pruned apple trees

We’ve got a full guide on pruning the Mac Apple tree that can walk you through everything from pruning for a fuller harvest to taking care of ailing Mac Apple trees. Here are the essentials you need to know for pruning this tree.

It’s best to prune Mac Apple trees in late winter or early spring. You want to prune these trees before buds start to form. You can prune Mac Apple trees in order to promote a fuller harvest of apples in the coming season. You can also prune for shape and overall growth. Pruning throughout the season can be done to handle damaged or ailing branches.

Check out our entire guide on Pruning Apple Trees.

Diseases & Care 

The Mac Apple tree is very resistant to several types of mildew as well as leaf spots. However, if left on sprayed these apple trees can quickly succumb to apple scab. These trees are also commonly infected by other types of fungus that can quickly lead to cankers, discoloration, and other health problems with the tree.

Check out our full guide on Mac Apple tree diseases and care to learn more. 


Mac Apple trees have to deal with the same paths as other Apple cultivars. You want to keep an eye out for beetles, aphids, and other types of pests. Keep in mind that the type of pests you’ll be dealing with depends on whether or not it’s going after the fruit, leaves, or attempting to bore into the tree itself.

Our guide on spraying apple trees can help you figure out the best way to keep your Mac Apples safe from fungal infections. 

Now that you’re setting trends in your garden with your brand new Mac Apple trees, let’s keep the pace up by setting trends in the kitchen. 

Common Uses For The Mac Apple Tree 

Mac Apples are considered universal apples. You can use these apples in anything from making candy to making hard cider. The Mac Apple is great and under pretty much any culinary circumstance. Let’s go over a few of the highlights of how you can use these apples. 

What Does The Mac Apple Taste Like?

The Mac Apple has what some people have described as a classic, old-timey apple taste. These apples have a sweet as well as tart flavor profile that has a little bit of a tangy bite. The longer these apples are left to ripen on the branch, the sweeter they become. They have a firm and crisp flesh that is juicier the fresher the apple is. 


There are no limits when it comes to cooking the Mac Apple. These apples are great for savory dishes as well as classic apple-based desserts. If you’re looking for an apple that gets limitless mileage in the kitchen, the Mac Apple is the one for you.

Eating Raw

Mac Apples are also all-stars for eating raw. They are a medium-sized apple which means that they are a great choice for a fresh snack right off the branch. Their flavor is also very welcoming and doesn’t require cooking in order to coax out sweeter and more complex flavors.

Canning / Freezing / Drying

No surprises here when it comes to the Mac Apple. These are all-stars when it comes to canning, freezing, and drying. If you’re looking for an apple to put up for the winter, this is the one for you.

Recipes That Use Mac Apples

Looking for a few recipes to kick-start your Mac Apple culinary adventure?

If you’re looking for a recipe aimed at the adults in the audience, this Dangerously Delicious Apple Cider Rye Cocktail is a great place to start. If you want a recipe that the whole family can enjoy, this recipe for Apple Pancakes is a great way to make good use of your Mac Apples. 

Cinnamon Apple Bread.
Cinnamon Apple Bread (click for the recipe).

Health Benefits of the Mac Apple Tree 

Mac Apple trees are well known for their healthy fruit. Apples are rich in vitamins including vitamin C. They are also a great natural source of fiber. Apples make an ideal replacement for sugary snacks like soda, candy, and other unhealthy processed food. 

Where To Buy The Mac Apple Tree?

There’s good news if you’re looking to buy a Mac Apple tree. Mac Apple trees are readily available online from retailers including Nature Hills Nursery. You can also find Mac Apple trees available on a variety of online retailers.

These apple trees can also be readily purchased throughout North American greenhouses. You’ll be able to find a Mac Apple tree either online or in person that you can grow in your yard. 

Where To Buy The Mac Apple 

What if you want to just try a Mac Apple before you buy a whole tree?

Well, there’s more good news here for you. The Mac Apple is still one of the most popular apple cultivars in North America. There’s a good chance that you’ll be able to find Mac Apples in your local mega mart. These apples are also available seasonally from local orchards. In fact, you’ll have a hard time not finding Mac Apples when you go out apple picking or shopping at your local store.

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Basket of McIntosh apples.

Wrapping up The Mac Apple Tree 

Whether you want to start growing a piece of history or you’re looking for an apple tree that provides endless culinary potential, the Mac Apple Tree is the one for you.

This apple tree does great in cold climates and, because of its popularity, has endless resources for helping you keep it happy and healthy. Plant a Mac Apple tree next season and you’ll be ready to stake your place in apple history.

Excited for more apple content? Visit my apple trees page to learn more about apple planting, growing, picking, cooking, and more!