Apples are part of the rose family, just like pears and plums. The apple tree originated in Central Asia. They have been grown for thousands of years in Asia and Europe, and were brought to North America by European colonists. Today there are more than 8,000 varieties of apples – the largest variety of fruit to exist. Apple are one of the most widely grown tree fruit and take 4 to 5 years to produce their first fruit.