A small, very slightly spiny tree up to 30 ft high; young shoots covered with fine down. Leaves wedge-shaped at the base, 11⁄2 to 3 in. long, nearly as wide; obovate to rhomboidal, three- or five-lobed (sometimes almost to the midrib), lobes toothed at the end or sometimes entire; bright green, ultimately nearly glabrous above, downy beneath; stalk 1⁄2 to 1 in. long; stipules deeply toothed, cockscomb-shaped. Flowers white, about 1⁄2 in. across, produced during June in densely flowered corymbs 2 to 3 in. across; stamens twenty; style one or two (rarely three). Fruit up to 3⁄4 or 1 in. diameter, globose, mostly orange or yellow, but varying to whitish or red, apple-like in flavour.
Native of S. Europe, N. Africa and the Near East; cultivated in England in the seventeenth century, but never, I think, very common – most of the trees so-called being either the var. sinaica or C. laciniata. The latter is different in general aspect, its leaves are thinner, and with narrower, deeper lobing as a rule, and the flowers have from three to five styles. The species is cultivated in S.E. Europe for its edible fruits, which vary much in size and colour.
var. sinaica (Boiss.) Lange C. sinaica Boiss.; C. maroccana Lindl. – Leaves quite glabrous; fruit yellow or yellowish red. Native of the Near East; introduced in 1822. There is a specimen about 20 ft high in the Royal Victoria Park, Bath.