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20 Different Types of Crabapple Trees & Their Identifying Features (With Photos)

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Written By Lyrae Willis

Environmental Scientist & Plant Ecologist

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Home » Tree Types » 20 Different Types of Crabapple Trees & Their Identifying Features (With Photos)

Crabapples are small deciduous trees native to temperate Asia and North America.

In the spring, the trees are covered with pretty pink or white blossoms that often have amazing fragrances.

Most crabapples are edible to some degree, depending on the size and sweetness of the fruit. Small, more tart varieties are still edible but are typically used in jams and cooking.

Birds, deer, squirrels, and other small animals love to feed on them.

They are all part of the Malus genus that apples come from, with 30 – 50 species.

Crabapples come from many different species, but they have been hybridized so often that many are just described as Malus x ‘Cultivar Name’ because their origin is unknown.

There are about 900 different cultivars available to choose from.

Let’s learn the characteristics of crabapples and how to identify some of the different types of charismatic crabapples.

Contents show

Crabapple Tree Identification (With Photos)

Crabapples are not from a single species. There are multiple species that they are derived from, including the large domestic apple, Malus domestica.

Basically, a crab apple is simply an apple whose fruit rarely exceeds 2” in diameter. Some are very small, never exceeding ¼” in diameter.

Most crabapples are cultivars bred from the Chinese Flowering Crab (Malus spectabilis), Tea Crabapple (Malus pumila), Siberian crabapple (Malus baccata), Toringo crabapple (Malus sieboldii), and Japanese flowering crabapple (Malus floribunda).

Some are also created from North American species. The four species native to North America are the Sweet Crab (Malus coronaria), Pacific Crabapple (Malus fusca), Prairie Crabapple (Malus ioensis), and Southern Crabapple (Malus angustifolia).

Crabapples are prone to several common diseases that have resulted in widespread breeding to develop resistant cultivars over the last century. As a result, their parentage has often been lost along the way due to multiple crossings, and many now are simply described as Malus x ‘Cultivar name’.

Since most people will mostly encounter cultivars when looking at crabapples, I will focus here on some of the more popular, newer, and unique cultivars.

However, I also include two native North American crabapples, which I strongly encourage you to grow if you live in their native range. The Pacific Crabapple, in particular, possesses natural genetic resistance to fireblight and powdery mildew and should be grown more in its native range.

Identifying Crabapple Trees by Their Leaf Arrangement

All crabapples, and all members of the Malus genus, have simple leaves (not compound) that are arranged alternately on the branches and twigs.

Often, the leaves on short shoots appear whorled, with multiple leaves per node. However, if you were to look more closely, you would see that it is a false whorl because the nodes are simply very condensed, making it appear whorled. The short shoots themselves are also arranged on alternating sides of the stem.

Leaf Arrangement - 3 Square - alternate falsewhorl opposite
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Identifying Crabapple Trees by Their Leaf Shapes

Crabapple leaves often show some variation within the species or cultivar, even on the same tree, but there is not a lot of variation between species or cultivars other than in size and color.

Knowing the shape of a crabapple leaf can help you identify it as a crabapple, but you will usually need to look at the color and size of the leaf as well as flower and fruit characteristics to identify it to the species or cultivar level.

Crabapple leaves are typically oval, ovate (egg-shaped, widest at the base), obovate (like ovate but widest at the tip, and the petiole (leaf stalk) attaches at the narrow end), or elliptic (widest in the middle and narrowing at both ends).

Leaf Shape - 4 Square - elliptic obovate oval ovate
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Identifying Crabapple Trees by Their Leaf Tips (Apex)

Crabapple leaves also tend to have variable tips within the species or cultivar but not so much between them. So again, it will help you identify it as a crabapple, but you will need to look at fruit and flower characteristics to determine it at the species or cultivar level.

Crabapple leaf tips are usually acuminate (narrowing to a long, drawn-out point), acute (both sides are more or less straight and meet at an angle of less than 90°), or rounded (smooth, having no sides or angles).

Leaf Apex - 3 Square - acuminate acute rounded
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Identifying Crabapple Trees by Their Leaf Margins

Crabapple margins, like leaf shape and tips, also vary within the species or cultivar, but not much between the different types of crabapples.

Most margins are serrated (having jagged, sharp, forward-pointing teeth, like a saw). They are usually finely serrated with small teeth. Sometimes the teeth are small and far apart, or other times they may be close together. Rarely leaves may be doubly serrated where the teeth have teeth of their own.

Sometimes margins are crenate, having rounded teeth that are not sharp at all. More often, they have teeth that vary between crenate and serrate (crenate-serrate), and sometimes the margins are more crenate as the leaf unfurls but becomes more serrate as it matures.

Rarely margins may also be entire, having no teeth at all.

Often, leaf margins may be variously lobed, and both lobed and unlobed leaves may be seen on the same tree. Lobes are typically shallow, but rarely they may be very deeply lobed.

Leaf Margins - 4 Square - crenate entire lobed serrate
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Identifying Crabapple Trees by Their Flowers

All crabapple flowers are typically arranged in tight clusters or inflorescences called corymbs that are typically held closely against the branches. Flowers appear in the early to mid-spring and usually appear when the leaves begin to emerge.

Crabapples all have bisexual flowers (containing both male and female organs in the same flower) with five free petals that are not joined into a tube. This is typical of the entire Rosaceae family. Sometimes flowers with four petals are seen, but the same tree typically has mostly five-petaled flowers.

Cultivars are often described as having single flowers because they have the usual five petals. Single does not refer to them being borne singly and not in a group (inflorescence).

Many newer cultivars are becoming available that have semi-double or double flowers. Semi-double flowers typically have 6 – 10 petals per flower, and double flowers have 10 or more petals per flower. The presence of extra petals is an excellent way to help identify certain cultivars.

Crabapple flowers are usually white, pink, or red and are often very fragrant.

White crabapple flowers tend to have white stamens with yellow or brown anthers. Pink crabapple flowers tend to have pink stamens and anthers. Stamens are the conspicuous male organs of the flower consisting of a stalk or filament topped with an anther (the pollen-producing organ).

All crabapple flowers tend to have petals that are clawed. Clawed petals narrow at their base where it attaches to the receptacle. It looks like a stalk that holds the petal; however, it is actually still part of the petal. Some cultivars have longer or shorter claws, and sometimes the claws are a different color than the rest of the petals.

Often pink-flowered varieties have petals that are a lighter shade of pink, but they have much darker pink veins throughout them. Others have two-tone petals with two or more different shades of pink. The description of the petal color can help identify some of the cultivars.

Crabapple Flowers - 4 Square
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work, and via Fast-Growing-Trees – Combined and Text Added by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Identifying Crabapple Trees by Their Fruits

Apples all produce a special type of fruit called a pome.

A pome is an accessory fruit where the flesh is made from the enlarged fleshy receptacle of the flower rather than the ovary itself. Inside the fleshy receptacle is a tough core made of the ovary that contains the seeds.

Apple Pome Fruit - 3 Square
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Crabapple pomes vary significantly in size, color, shape, and taste between the different species and cultivars, and this is an excellent tool to help identify the different types of crabapples.

Crabapples are defined by having pomes that rarely exceed 2”.

Large-fruit crabapples are often easily identified by their large pomes (1 – 2”). These ones are often grown by those who harvest the apples for eating fresh or use in cider, jams, and cooking. These ones are too big for most birds to eat, but deer and bears will often eat them.

Medium-sized crabapples are in the ½” to 1” range, about the size of a cherry. They tend to be quite tart and are usually grown more ornamentally but are still occasionally used in cooking and ciders. Birds and other wildlife love to feed on these.

Small or pea-sized crabapples do not exceed about ¼”. These are rarely grown for cooking due to their small size and tart flavor, but they come in a wide range of colors and are quite ornamental. They are so small they are often incorrectly referred to as berries. They tend to persist well into winter, making a great fall and winter food source for resident birds.

All sizes may be more or less round, or they may be oval or otherwise elongated (oblong, etc.). The shape can often help identify the type of crab apple.

Rarely, new fruitless cultivars are becoming available that will produce no fruits at all.

Fruits - 3 Square - pomes of crabapples
Images via Nature Hills, Nature Hills, and by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – Combined and Text Added by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Identifying Crabapple Trees by Branch Growth

How a branch grows out of the trunk can often be used to help identify the different types of crabapples.

Crabapple branches are often ascending where they are pointing upwards toward the top of the tree.

Often the branches may also be horizontal where they come out of the trunk at 90 degrees to the trunk. The tips may ascend or descend, but the branch itself is horizontal.

Sometimes the branches are descending where the branch growth is directed down towards the base of the tree.

Crabapples tend to mostly have spreading branches. This is where there are horizontal branches near the middle, ascending branches on top, and the lowermost branches descending.

Finally, in some cultivars, the branches or at least the twigs (smaller branches that come off the main branch) are pendulous or drooping, descending so strongly they become vertical and point directly at the ground. This creates a weeping tree.

Branch Morphology - 4 Square - ascending descending horizontal pendulous
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Identifying Crabapple Trees by Tree Habit

Tree habit or form is the overall shape a tree has when viewed from a distance.

Crabapple trees tend to start their life with a somewhat pyramidal crown wider at the bottom and narrower at the top. Rarely do they keep this form when they mature.

Typically, crabapples have crowns that are rounded and made of ascending and/or spreading branches. They can be broadly rounded, round, or narrowly rounded, which is often referred to as oval.

Sometimes their spreading branches create a more open, spreading crown that may still be somewhat rounded but more irregular.

Sometimes they are vase-shaped. This is a type of spreading crown made only of ascending branches that spread at the top, creating a vase-like shape.

Certain cultivars have columnar crowns that are much narrower than they are wide and are made of strongly ascending branches.

Other cultivars have weeping crowns made of pendulous branches and or twigs.

Finally, some crabapples will have a single main trunk, while others, particularly the shrubbier types, will have multiple trunks from the ground up.

Tree Habit - 6 Square - columnar openspread pyramidal rounded vaseshaped weeping
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

20 Different Types of Crabapple Trees & Their Identifying Features

1. Pacific Crabapple – Malus fusca

Pacific Crabapple - Grid 2 Square
Image by Gordon Leppig & Andrea J. Pickart, Public Domain, and Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz, Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0 – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

The Pacific Crabapple is native throughout the Pacific Northwest of North America from Alaska south through British Columbia, Canada, and south through to northern California, USA.

It is a small tree, but larger than most crabapples at around 30 ft tall.

Flowers are showy white or light pink, followed by small green or red sour fruits that mature in fall. They are sometimes used in jams and preserves, but if left on the tree, they will be loved by birds and other wildlife.

Leaves turn bright orange or red providing a nice fall color display.

Best grown in full sun for the most flowers and fruits.

It tolerates wet soils better than most crabapples and can handle periods of standing water, heavy clay, and poor drainage. It even grows naturally in saltwater estuaries.

It has natural genetic resistance to fireblight and powdery mildew, and this has piqued interest in the crabapple breeding community.

Identifying Features of the Pacific Crabapple

Pacific Crabapple is a small tree or occasionally a large shrub, often multitrunked, with spreading branches and a usually rounded crown.

Leaves are ovate, sometimes oval or elliptic, 1.2 – 4.3” long, and about a third as wide with an acute or acuminate tip and margins that may be serrate or doubly serrate and may or may not be three-lobed.

Flowers are white, occasionally pink, 0.6 – 0.8” wide with white stamens, and appear in few-flowered inflorescences.

Fruits are yellow to purplish-red pomes, oblong to ovoid in shape, and about ⅓” in diameter and do not have persistent sepals.

The narrower leaves, larger-sized trees, and fewer flowers will distinguish it from most of the cultivars. The native range and the lack of persistent sepals on the fruits will distinguish it from the Southern Crabapple and Sweet Crab.

Other Common Names: Oregon Crabapple, Western Crabapple

Native Area: Pacific Northwest of North America from Alaska, USA, south through British Columbia, Canada, and south through to northern California, USA.

USDA Growing Zones: 5 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 15 – 30 ft (to 40 ft) tall, 10 – 20 ft spread

2. Southern Crabapple – Malus angustifolia

Southern Crabapple - Grid 2 Square
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

The Southern Crabapple is a native North American species that is endemic to the southeastern USA.

It is a small tree, but larger than most crabapples at a maximum height of around 30 ft tall.

It has pretty light pink flowers in the spring, golden yellow fall color, and golden yellow edible fruits that are small and tart but edible and loved by deer and birds.

Best grown in well-drained, moist, and slightly acid soils.

It makes a great border tree or backyard landscaping tree, and will thrive in forest gardens where it can grow in full sun or partial shade.

Its resistance to common crabapple diseases is not known.

While its population is considered stable and listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of endangered species, Nature Serve lists it as locally Vulnerable to Critically Imperiled in several US states at the northern end of its range.

Identifying Features of the Southern Crabapple

Southern Crabapple is a small tree or occasionally a large shrub with an open and rounded crown.

Leaves are elliptic, oval, or ovate, 1.4 – 3.2” long and typically about half as wide with rounded to somewhat acute tips, and serrate, crenate, entire, or sometimes slightly lobed or doubly serrated margins.

Flowers are in few-flowered branched inflorescences of pink flowers about 1” in diameter with clawed light pink petals and pink stamens.

Fruits are green or yellow-green, somewhat rounded pomes 0.4 – 0.8” wide, sometimes over 1”, and they have erect persistent sepals.

Its narrower leaves, less profuse blossoms, and larger form will all help differentiate it from most crabapple cultivars.

It differs from the Pacific Crabapple by having persistent sepals on its fruit.

Other Common Names: Narrowleaf Crab, Narrowleaf Crabapple, Wild Crab, Wild Crabapple

Native Area: Endemic to the southeastern USA from eastern Texas west to Florida and north to Missouri, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

USDA Growing Zones: 3 – 8

Average Size at Maturity: 20 – 30 ft tall, 20 – 25 ft spread

3. Callaway Crabapple – Malus x ‘Callaway’

Callaway Crabapple - Grid 2 Square
Images via Shrubs & Trees Depot – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Callaway Crabapple is a large-fruited crabapple cultivar with red fruits that are popular with birds and are sometimes made into tart jelly.

This tree works great for southern climates and those with hot and humid summers because it has a low-chill requirement for flowering and fruiting.

It blooms in mid-spring with single white, delightfully fragrant flowers.

Its leaves emerge green and turn yellow, orange, and red in the fall.

It also has excellent resistance to scab, powdery mildew, fire blight, and cedar-apple rust, even through hot, humid summer conditions.

This is a grafted tree variety.

Identifying Features of the Callaway Crabapple

Callaway Crabapple is a small tree 15 – 25 ft tall with a rounded or oval habit and spreading branches with often pendulous twigs for a semi-weeping appearance.

Leaves are bright green and oval to elliptic, up to 3” long, with acute tips.

Floral buds are pink in the spring and open to very fragrant white flowers 1.5” in diameter with white stamens and usually brownish anthers.

Fruits are red with crisp, mildly tart yellow flesh and are about 1 ¼” in diameter.

Other Common Names: Callaway Crab

Origin: Callaway Gardens in southeast Georgia.

USDA Growing Zones: 5 – 8

Average Size at Maturity: 20 – 25 ft tall, 15 – 20 ft spread

4. Red Jewel Crabapple – Malus x ‘Red Jewel’

Red Jewel Crabapple - Grid 2 Square
Images via Nature Hills and Hoette Farms – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

The Red Jewel is a small tree with bright white spring flowers followed by small but vibrant crimson red fruits that persist through winter and retain their color, providing ample winter interest and food for wildlife.

It has very low branching and makes a great specimen or border tree. It also works great to fill a corner space in a yard or use one on either side of the entrance to a home or driveway.

If used as a street tree, the lower branches can be pruned to make way for pedestrian and vehicle clearance.

Best grown in full sun in most soil types, provided it is moist and well-draining.

It has excellent resistance to apple scab and cedar-apple rust.

Identifying Features of the Red Jewel Crabapple

Red Jewel Crabapple is a small tree, usually only growing to 15 ft tall, with an irregular oval, pyramidal, or sometimes vase-shaped crown with branches that begin low to the ground.

It has profuse single white fragrant flowers that appear in spring. They have white stamens with yellow anthers.

Leaves are elliptic to narrowly oval with acute to nearly rounded tips, light green to somewhat gray-green, and turn yellow in the fall.

Fruits are bright crimson red, to about ½” wide, and persist all winter, retaining their color.

Other Common Names: Red Jewel Crab

Origin: Cultivar origin unknown

USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 8

Average Size at Maturity: 15 – 18 ft tall, 12 – 15 ft spread

Available at: Nature Hills

5. Adirondack Crab Apple – Malus x ‘Adirondack’

Adirondack Crabapple - Grid 2 Square
Images via Nature Hills and McKay Nursery – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Adirondack Crabapple is a small deciduous tree with a columnar or vase-shaped crown and profuse reddish-pink buds that open to single pink-tinged white flowers.

Its narrow width makes it suitable for formal gardens and areas where the space to spread is limited.

Best grown in full sun in neutral loam, clay, or sandy soils. It is adaptable to most soil types but will not tolerate areas with standing water. Once established, it is drought tolerant.

It will benefit from a top-dressing of compost each year, but be careful not to over-fertilize as this can make it more susceptible to disease.

No, this tree did not come from the Adirondacks and is not used to build Adirondack chairs.

Identifying Features of the Adirondack Crabapple

Adirondack Crabapple is a small tree with a columnar to narrowly vase-shaped habit with predominantly ascending branches.

Leaves are medium to dark green, ovate to elliptic, up to 3” long, with acute to acuminate tips and serrated margins, and are sometimes lobed.

Floral buds are dark red, maturing to lighter red before opening to pink-tinged white, widely spreading petals. Stamens are white with yellow anthers.

Flowers are in cymose inflorescences with 5 – 7 flowers.

Fruits are almost rounded pomes in red with half of it shaded to an orange-red, and they are 0.4 – 0.6” in diameter and last into December.

Other Common Names: Chui si hai tang

Origin: Selected by National Arboretum for its disease resistance in 1974.

USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 8

Average Size at Maturity: 12 – 18 ft tall, 6 – 10 ft spread

Available at: Nature Hills

6. Prairifire Crabapple – Malus x ‘Prairifire’

Prairie Fire Crabapple - Grid 2 Square
Images via Fast-Growing-Trees – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Prairifire Crabapple is a small, spreading tree up to 20 ft tall and wide that is popular for its incredibly showy dark pink to red flowers that appear in spring and last longer than many other crabapple blossoms.

Leaves are also attractive, emerging glossy maroon or purple-red in spring, then turning dark green with purplish-red veins in the summer, before turning yellow, bronze, and red in the autumn for a spectacular fall color display.

Small purplish-red crabapples mature in the fall and are edible but small and tart and are only occasionally harvested for making jams, but the wildlife loves them.

It is a hardy, adaptable tree that will tolerate most soil types, acidic, alkaline, clay, sand, or loam.

Best grown in full sun in moist but well-drained soil.

It has good disease resistance to all the common crabapple diseases.

The misspelling of prairie in the name Prairifire was intentional.

Identifying Features of the Adams Crabapple

Prairifire Crabapple is a small, spreading deciduous tree up to 20 ft tall and wide with a dense rounded crown.

Leaves are ovate, obovate, or elliptic and emerge glossy maroon or purple-red, turning dark green with purplish-red veins in the summer before turning yellow, bronze, and red in the fall.

Floral buds are dark pinkish-red and open to showy deep pinkish-red single flowers to 1.5” wide. Petals are dark pink with darker veins, and the stamens are pink with yellow anthers.

Crabapples mature in the fall and are numerous, purplish-red, and up to ½” in diameter.

Other Common Names: Prairie Fire Crabapple

Origin: Introduced by Dr. Daniel Dayton, University of Illinois, in 1982.

USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 8

Average Size at Maturity: 15 – 20 ft tall, 15 – 20 ft spread

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

7. Sargent Crabapple – Malus sargentii

Sargent Crabapple - Grid 2 Square
Image by Fast-Growing-Trees and Nature Hills – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Sargent Crabapple is a dwarf tree native to Japan but widely cultivated around the temperate world for its profuse fragrant white flowers.

Its fragrant blossoms attract butterflies and hummingbirds in the spring, and numerous birds love its abundant, tasty, tiny fruits in the fall and early winter.

Its small size makes it suitable for small gardens as a specimen or border tree.

It tolerates urban pollution and works well in inner city parks and gardens.

Best grown in well-drained, acidic loams in full sun with medium moisture.

It will adapt to a wide range of soil types, including clay. Once established, it has some drought tolerance.

Avoid pruning in the spring since the fresh open cuts can allow fireblight to enter.

Identifying Features of the Sargent Crabapple

Sargent Crabapple is a dwarf tree or multi-stemmed shrub with a dense, spreading crown that typically spreads much wider than it does tall.

It has horizontal branches with ascending tips or ascending branches, and no central leader.

Leaves are ovate, typically shallowly lobed, and dark green and turning yellow in the fall.

Floral buds are pink and open to a profuse but brief bloom of fragrant white flowers 1” in diameter with white stamens with yellow anthers. Profuse blooms may occur on alternate years, with fewer blossoms on the other years.

Fruits are small red pomes to ¼” in diameter and are sweet and taste similar to rosehips.

Other Common Names: Pigmy Crabapple

Native Area: Japan; widely cultivated around the temperate world

USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 7

Average Size at Maturity: 6 – 8 ft tall, 9 – 15 ft spread

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

8. Pink Princess Crabapple – Malus x ‘Parrsi’

The Pink Princess Crabapple is a naturally dwarf variant of the Sargent Crabapple but with unique leaves that emerge reddish-purple and turn red-tinted green in the summer.

It never reaches more than 8 ft tall, often spreading wider than it does tall, with weeping twigs to give it a semi-weeping form.

It has pretty rose-pink flowers that are very fragrant and attract abundant butterflies and hummingbirds to your yard.

Its fruits are deep red and sweet-tasting, similar to rose hips, but they are small and not really used for cooking, though they will attract numerous birds to your yard when they mature.

Best grown in full sun in moist, loamy, acidic soil. It is drought-tolerant once established.

It has excellent disease resistance.

Identifying Features of the Pink Princess Crabapple

Pink Princess Crabapple is a dwarf tree or large multi-stemmed shrub spreading wider than it does tall with horizontal branches and twigs that are somewhat pendulous to create a semi-weeping habit.

Leaves are ovate, often lobed, to 3” long. They emerge purplish-red in spring, maturing to red-tinted dark green in summer and turning yellow in the fall.

Floral buds are purplish in spring and open to fragrant rose-pink flowers to 1” in diameter in profuse tight clusters. Petals are a solid light pink color and may or may not have darker veins. Stamens are pink with yellow anthers.

Fruits are small deep red pomes only ¼” in diameter and are sweet-tasting, similar to rose hips.

Other Common Names: Pink Princess Flowering Crabapple, Pink Princess Ornamental Crabapple

Origin: Introduced by Schmidt Nursery of Boring, Oregon, in 1987

USDA Growing Zones: 5 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 6 – 8 ft tall, 10 – 15 ft spread

9. Coralburst Crabapple – Malus x ‘coralcole’ or Malus x ‘Coralburst’

Coral Burst Crabapple - Grid 2 Square
Images via Fast-Growing-Trees and Nature Hills – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Coralburst Crabapple is a slow-growing large shrub or small tree with a compact, symmetrical form suitable for small gardens as a specimen tree.

It has fragrant rose-pink double flowers covering the small trees in the spring that attract bees and butterflies.

Flowers are followed by attractive reddish-orange to bronze-colored small fruits that are appealing to birds, squirrels, and other wildlife.

It grows well in any soil type, provided that it is moist and well-drained and receives regular watering.

Best grown in full sun for optimal health.

Easy to grow, this tree is hardy and very disease-resistant, especially to apple scab.

Identifying Features of the Coralburst Crabapple

Coralburst Crabapple is a compact tree or large shrub with a rounded crown.

Leaves are small, dark green, and narrowly ovate to elliptical with acute to acuminate tips.

Floral buds are ruby red, opening to showy semi-double to double rose-pink flowers. Petals often vary in different shades of light to dark rose-pink, even in the same flower. Stamens have pale pink filaments and yellowish anthers.

Fruits are ½” wide reddish-orange to orange pomes that are not especially tasty but are loved by wildlife.

Other Common Names: Coral Burst Ornamental Crabapple

Origin: Developed from a seedling of Malus sieboldii at Gardenview Horticultural Park, Strongsville, Ohio. Introduced in 1968.

USDA Growing Zones: 3 – 8

Average Size at Maturity: 8 – 15 ft tall, 12 – 15 ft spread

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

10. Indian Magic Crabapple – Malus × ‘Indian Magic’

Indian Magic Crabapple - Grid 1 Square
Image by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Indian Magic Crabapple has stunning deep-pink to nearly violet, very fragrant blossoms, lovely red fall color, and vibrant red persistent fruits that keep the birds happy and well-fed in the winter months.

The small fruits are high in pectin and are sometimes used in cooking.

It is a small tree that grows up to 20 ft tall and wide and makes a lovely specimen tree for all but the smallest yards.

It is best grown in full sun in most soil types, including clay, chalk, loam, or sand.

It performs best in well-drained soil and is drought-tolerant once established.

It has good resistance to fireblight and cedar apple rust, excellent resistance to powdery mildew, and fair resistance to scab.

Identifying Features of the Indian Magic Crabapple

Indian Magic is a small rounded tree up to 20 ft tall and wide with ascending-spreading branches.

Leaves are ovate with acute, acuminate, or sometimes almost rounded tips and have serrated margins. They are deep green and turn golden orange in the fall.

Dark red floral buds open into large 1 ½” wide, pink single flowers with widely spreading petals around the same time as the leaves emerge.

Petals are light pink but have very dark pink veins throughout them; they may also be nearly white on their claws. Stamens are a darker pink and have yellow or yellow-brown anthers.

Fruits are glossy bright red or reddish-orange, elongated pomes ½” wide. Fruit color is enhanced after the first frost and persists most of the winter.

Other Common Names: Indian Magic Ornamental Crabapple

Origin: Simpson’s Nursery, Indiana USA, 1955.

USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 8

Average Size at Maturity: 15 – 20 ft tall, 15 – 20 ft spread

Available at: Nature Hills

11. White Cascade Crabapple – Malus x ‘White Cascade’

The White Cascade Crabapple is a lovely ornamental weeping tree that grows up to 20 ft tall and wide.

In late spring, it has profuse white fragrant blossoms that attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds to your yard.

Flowers are followed by small yellow fruits that birds love in the fall and winter.

This tree requires moderate moisture and should be planted where it will be watered regularly. It is not drought-tolerant and should never be allowed to dry out completely. Create a “moat” around the tree and fill it with mulch to reduce the watering frequency.

It should only be grown in full sun and is not picky about soil type, and even tolerates urban pollution so that it will thrive in inner city landscapes.

It is resistant to powdery mildew, cedar-apple rust, and fireblight.

Identifying Features of the White Cascade Crabapple

The White Cascade Crabapple is a small tree up to 20 ft tall and wide with a strong central leader and spreading to pendulous branches and pendulous twigs, creating a semi-weeping, somewhat rounded habit.

Leaves are ovate to elliptic, sometimes lobed, medium-dark green, up to 3” long, and have acuminate to acute tips.

Floral buds are red and open to pale pink flowers that fade to white as they mature. Stamens are white with yellow anthers.

Fruits are small but showy lemon-yellow pomes to about ¼” wide.

Other Common Names: Weeping Crabapple

Origin: Henry Ross, Gardenview Horticultural Park, 1974.

USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 8

Average Size at Maturity: 15 – 20 ft tall, 15 – 20 ft spread

12. Chestnut Crabapple – Malus domestica ‘Chestnut’

Chestnut Crabapple - Grid 2 Square
Images via Nature Hills and by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

The Chestnut Crabapple is a cultivar of the regular domestic apple, Malus domestica, that we often eat.

Its fruits are up to 2” wide and have high sugar levels to produce a sweet, tasty apple with flavors of honey, pear, orange, and vanilla. Some say it even tastes like chestnuts, giving it its common name.

The fruits are delicious enough to be eaten fresh and are often cooked into jams or preserves.

The fruit can become messy if they are not harvested as they are large for most birds, but deer and bears will eat them.

Its white flowers are very fragrant and showy.

It makes a terrific pollinator companion tree for growing with other apple varieties to increase yields.

It is a very cold hardy tree (down to USDA zone 3) that grows best in well-drained soil of any type in full sun.

Identifying Features of the Chestnut Crabapple

Chestnut Crabapple is a small, spreading deciduous tree up to 25 ft tall and wide with an open spreading crown with ascending-spreading branches.

Leaves are relatively large, medium green, ovate to broadly elliptic with acute to acuminate tips and finely serrated margins. Leaves turn yellow in the fall.

Floral buds appear pink before the leaves emerge and open to showy, fragrant, white flowers that cover the branches. Stamens are white with yellow to brownish anthers.

Fruits are abundant, 2” wide, pale yellow pomes with streaky red blushes and some russeting. The flesh is crisp, creamy-white, and sweet with a nutty flavor.

Other Common Names: Chestnut Sweetcrab

Origin: Developed in 1946 at the University of Minnesota and released in 1949.

USDA Growing Zones: 3 – 8

Average Size at Maturity: 15 – 25 ft tall, 15 – 25 ft spread

Available at: Nature Hills

13. Centennial Crabapple – Malus domestica ‘Centennial’

Centennial Crabapple - Grid 2 Square
Images via Nature Hills and Raintree Nursery – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

The Centennial Crabapple is another cultivar derived from the common apple Malus domestica, and it also produces relatively large fruits up to 2” in diameter.

Its fruits are elongated, oval in shape, and ripen earlier than most, around mid-August. They are reddish-orange, crisp, and sweet in flavor and popular for eating fresh as well as canning or used in cooking to make apple butter or other tasty preserves.

Flowers appear in early to mid-spring, starting from pink buds and opening to slightly fragrant white blossoms.

Leaves turn a lovely golden yellow in the fall.

Best grown in loamy soil in full sun.

It is resistant to scab and somewhat resistant to fireblight.

Identifying Features of the Centennial Crabapple

Centennial Crabapple is an upright tree with a rounded, spreading crown.

Leaves are medium to dark green, oval to elliptic, and turn soft golden yellow in the fall.

Floral buds emerge pink and open to slightly fragrant white single flowers in loose clusters all along the branches. Stamens are white with yellow anthers.

Fruits are large for a crabapple, to 2” in diameter, slightly elongated oval rather than round. They are reddish-orange with bright scarlet blush and crisp, white, sweet flesh.

Other Common Names: Centennial Flowering Crabapple

Origin: Introduced in 1957 by the University of Minnesota.

USDA Growing Zones: 3 – 8

Average Size at Maturity: 12 – 18 ft (to 25 ft) tall, 10 – 15 ft spread

Available at: Nature Hills

14. Radiant Crabapple – Malus x ‘Radiant’

Radiant Crabapple - Grid 2 Square
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Radiant Crabapple Tree is a small tree with small pink buds that appear in spring and open to beautiful large, showy deep pink blossoms with an exceptional fragrance. Flowers remain on the tree for weeks attracting numerous bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds to feast on their nectar.

Leaves emerge green with reddish-purple hues before turning green for summer and then turning shades of orange and yellow for fall.

Crabapples are small, about ½” wide, and ripen in the fall. They are tart but are often used in cider or cooking or left on the tree for wildlife to feast on all fall and early winter.

Best grown in full sun in any well-drained soil.

These are susceptible to scab but have good resistance to other common crabapple diseases.

Identifying Features of the Radiant Crabapple

Radiant Crabapple is a small tree up to about 20 ft tall with a rounded crown.

Floral buds are red in spring and open to large, showy, exceptionally fragrant 1 ¾” wide single pink flowers. Petals are a solid deep pink but may fade to light pink or almost white in the claws. Stamens are deep pink with yellowish to pinkish anthers.

Leaves are ovate to elliptic with acute tips. They emerge red-purple-tinted green and turn green by summer.

Fruits are bright red pomes to ½” in diameter that matures in the fall.

Other Common Names: Harvest Gold Flowering Crabapple, Harvest Gold Crab

Origin: Cultivar origin unknown.

USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 8

Average Size at Maturity: 15 – 20 ft tall, 15 – 20 ft spread

Available at: Nature Hills

15. Lollipop Crabapple – Malus x ‘Lollizam’

Lollipop Crabapple - Grid 2 Square
Images via Fast-Growing-Trees – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Lollipop Crabapple is a top-grafted dwarf tree with a compact, rounded crown that really does look much like a lollipop. Its small size fits well in small gardens or on the edge of a patio.

Its compact shape requires no pruning to maintain.

Flowers are showy and white and very fragrant, so be sure to plant your tree somewhere you will enjoy the beautiful fragrance in the spring.

Fruits are small, shiny red crabapples that mature in summer and fall and are loved by birds and other wildlife.

Best grown in moist acidic soil that is well-drained.

It requires full sun for at least six hours per day.

It is easy to grow and has good disease resistance.

Identifying Features of the Lollipop Crabapple

Lollipop Crabapple is a top-grafted dwarf tree with a compact, very symmetrical, rounded crown on top of a short, bare trunk. Its shape resembles a lollipop.

Leaves are small, ovate to elliptic, forest green in summer, and turn yellow in the fall.

Flowers are showy, fragrant, and pure white and cover the tree in spring. Stamens have yellowish-white filaments topped with very bright yellow anthers.

Fruits are small pea-sized glossy red fruits that mature in early fall and attract birds.

Other Common Names: Lollipop Flowering Crabapple

Origin: Jim Zampini cultivar

USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 8

Average Size at Maturity: 6 – 10 ft tall, 6 – 10 ft spread

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

16. Spring Snow Crabapple – Malus x ‘Spring Snow’

Spring Snow - Grid 1 Square
Image by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Spring Snow Crabapple is a pretty ornamental tree with a stunning display of profuse fragrant white flowers in spring.

It is also one of the newer fruitless crabapple varieties that will never produce fruits, so you don’t have to worry about the mess in your yard or on your patio.

It has shiny bright green leaves that fill its crown in the summer and make for a wonderful shade tree.

In the fall, the leaves turn bright harvest yellow for fall color.

In the winter, its erect branches catch the snow for winter interest.

It has excellent disease resistance and is easily grown in any moist but well-drained soil type in full sun.

Identifying Features of the Spring Snow Crabapple

Spring Snow is a small tree with a dense, upright, oval to rounded crown made of ascending branches.

Leaves are bright medium green, and ovate, with usually acuminate tips, and are up to 3” long. Leaves turn a pleasing shade of yellow in the fall.

Flowers are large, white, fragrant, single flowers that appear in loose clusters all along the branches in spring.

Petals are pure white with longer claws than most crabapple flowers. Stamens are white with pale yellow anthers.

This is a fruitless cultivar that will never produce pomes of any size.

Other Common Names: Spring Snow Flowering Crabapple

Origin: Discovered in Saskatchewan, Canada, in 1963.

USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 8

Average Size at Maturity: 20 – 25 ft tall, 15 – 20 ft spread

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

17. Louisa Weeping Crabapple – Malus x ‘Louisa’

louisa flowering crabapple
Image via Nature Hills

Louisa Crabapple has a delicate, graceful, weeping form in a compact size to 15 ft tall and wide, making it a suitable specimen or accent tree for all but the smallest landscapes.

It has clusters of delicate pink flowers that cover its graceful arching branches in the spring.

In the fall, its pea-sized amber-yellow fruits mature and persist into winter, providing the wildlife with a tasty treat.

Its branches are so pendulous and long that if left unpruned, they will eventually reach the ground and spread along the ground. They can be trained to grow up on a fence or trellis or to cascade down over a wall.

Best grown in any well-drained soil type in full sun.

It has excellent resistance to scab and good resistance to fire blight, cedar-apple rust, and powdery mildew.

Identifying Features of the Louisa Crabapple

Louisa Crabapple is a small tree up to 15 ft tall and wide with a weeping crown with no central leader and all pendulous branches that may droop all the way to the ground and spread along the ground surface.

Leaves are oval to ovate with acuminate to acute tips and serrated edges. They are deep green and glossy and turn light yellow and orange in the fall.

Floral buds are red in the spring and open to large, showy, fragrant pink flowers about 1 ½” wide.

Petals are typically two-tone pink in the same flower, and the stamens have white to pale yellow filaments and pale yellow anthers.

Fruits are amber-yellow when mature and are small, up to about ¼” in diameter.

Other Common Names: Louisa Flowering Crabapple

Origin: Polly Hill, 1987

USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 8

Average Size at Maturity: 12 – 15 ft tall, 12 – 15 ft spread

Available at: Nature Hills

18. Royal Raindrops Crabapple – Malus transitoria ‘JFS-KW5’

Royal Raindrops Crabapple- Grid 1 Square
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Royal Raindrops is a newer cultivar created in the early 2000s for its stunning masses of fragrant magenta-pink flowers that emerge in spring.

It is equally prized for its showy leaves that emerge wine red in spring and mature to burgundy-green in summer before turning bright orange-red in the fall for a lovely fall color display.

The small but showy bright orange-red to red fruits mature in fall and persist for a few months attracting flocks of birds to feast on them in the colder months.

Between the flowers, leaves, and fruits, you will get a full four seasons out of this tree.

It is disease-resistant and tolerant of clay soils, air pollution, and drought once established.

Makes an excellent specimen tree, street tree, or planted in small groups.

Identifying Features of the Royal Raindrops Crabapple

Royal Raindrops Crabapple is an upright, spreading deciduous tree with a broadly rounded crown and ascending-spreading branches.

Leaves are average-sized and emerge wine red in spring, turn burgundy-green in summer, and then turn bright orange-red in the fall. They are ovate with acute tips to often very deeply lobed.

Floral buds are deep pink to red and open to produce masses of magenta-pink showy, single flowers all along the branches in mid-spring.

Petals are light to deep pink in color and typically have much darker veins throughout. Stamens are deep pink with yellowish-brown to purplish-brown anthers.

Fruits are small red or red-purple pomes that mature in the fall and last through to early winter.

Other Common Names: Flowering Crabapple

Origin: J. Frank Scmidt Jr., patent issued in 2003.

USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 8

Average Size at Maturity: 15 – 20 ft tall, 10 – 15 ft spread

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

19. Raspberry Spear Crabapple – Malus x ‘JFS-KW213MX’

Raspberry Spear crabapple - Grid 2 Square
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

The Raspberry Spear Crabapple is a brand new cultivar that was only released in 2022.

It has an attractive upright, columnar habit and stunning magenta blossoms that make it suitable for foundation planting, narrow hedges, or as a street tree.

Its short internodes and columnar habit create a compact form that requires little, if any, pruning to maintain its shape.

Bees and butterflies will be attracted to the blossoms in spring, and birds and wildlife will flock to the fruits in the fall.

It prefers moist, well-drained soils and will tolerate compact soils and other soil types.

Best grown in full sun.

It has excellent disease resistance.

Identifying Features of the Raspberry Spear Crabapple

Raspberry Spear Crabapple has a narrowly oval or narrowly columnar habit with strongly ascending branches creating a very compact form growing to 20 ft tall but only 8 ft wide.

Leaves emerge dark purple, holding their purple into summer. In late summer, the older leaves start to bronze and develop orange tints.

Floral buds are deep pink and open to bright magenta-pink blossoms. Petals are a lighter pink with deeper pink veins throughout. Stamens have dark pink filaments and pale yellow anthers.

Fruits are small purple-red pomes that ripen to a deep bright red in late fall and persist until early winter.

Other Common Names: N/A

Origin: Introduced in 2022 by Keith Warren at J. Frank Schmidt & Son Nursery in Boring, Oregon.

USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 8

Average Size at Maturity: 15 – 20 ft tall, 6 – 8 ft spread

20. Whitney Crabapple – Malus pumila

The Whitney Crabapple is an old cultivar that is a very cold hardy tree (to USDA zone 2) that produces abundant large 2” red and yellow fruits that ripen in late August or early September and are popular for cooking and making cider.

It is also a great ornamental option for those living in areas with cold winters and hot summers, as it will tolerate both well.

It is a self-pollinating tree, so only one is required to fruit.

It is resistant to apple scab.

Best grown in moist, well-drained soil.

It prefers full sun, but it will tolerate partial shade.

Malus pumila, the parent strain of this cultivar, has been introduced throughout North America. It tends not to be an overly aggressive invader, but it is still invasive. It is best planted only in the coldest zones (USDA zones 2 – 3), where other crabapples cannot be grown.

Identifying Features of the Whitney Crabapple

Whitney Crabapple is an upright, rounded tree with ascending-spreading branches.

Leaves are elliptic to ovate, up to 4” long, with acute tips and serrated margins.

Flowers are large and showy, over 2” wide, cupped pink and white single flowers in clusters all along the branches. Stamens are white with pale yellow anthers.

Fruits are yellow with red stripes, usually up to 2” wide but sometimes almost 3” with crisp, sweet, but slightly acidic flesh.

Other Common Names: Whitney Crab

Origin: Whitney Nursery in Franklin Grove, Illinois, 1869.

USDA Growing Zones: 2 – 8

Average Size at Maturity: 15 – 20 ft tall, 15 – 20 ft spread

Available at: Nature Hills

Charismatic Crabapple Trees

Growing Crabapple Trees in Your Garden

Crabapples are classy, cheerful trees that produce profuse blossoms every spring, have pretty leaves that provide summer shade, provide beautiful fall colors, and finally, fruits that last into winter, providing four seasons of interest in the landscape.

Growing crabapples is quite easy if you have the right conditions for them.

All are suitable for climates in USDA zones 5 – 7, many are good in zones 4 – 8, and finally, a few types are good in zones 2-3 and in 9. Make sure you know which USDA Planting Zone you are in.

People often are ‘zone pushers,’ and this is fine to a certain degree. You can always choose the warmest or coolest spot in your yard and alter the microclimate a little further by using mulch, protection, etc. But do not try to push more than one zone, or you will likely have issues.

Crabapples perform best with some irrigation, and although many are drought-tolerant once established, they will yield better with some irrigation.

Crabapples are not very picky about soil type. They prefer well-drained loams but will do well in clay, sand, compacted, and urban soils. They typically prefer soils that are a little on the acidic side but will do fine in neutral soils, and few will do well in alkaline soils, so read up on your chosen tree.

Generally speaking, crabapples should always be grown in full sun as they will flower and fruit best and be less prone to disease in the sun. Occasionally some cultivars will tolerate partial shade, so if this describes your location, then be sure to read up on your cultivar to ensure it is suitable for partial shade.

Fertilize sparingly. Often, an annual topdressing of compost should be all they need. Too much fertilizer will increase their susceptibility to diseases.

Check out How to Pick A Tree For Your Yard for more information on choosing the right tree for the right spot in your yard.

Varieties with large fruits can create a maintenance issue if they are not harvested because the birds will find them too large to eat. If you have no deer or bears around to eat them, they will rot and attract bugs and rodents.

Typically you should always try to choose species native to your area to enhance biodiversity and wildlife values and reduce the risk of introducing invasive species.

While crabapples are native throughout Asia and North America, the disease-resistant cultivars tend to be a better choice for many locations. However, if you live in a region that has a native crabapple, I strongly encourage you to grow it to enhance wildlife and biodiversity values.

None of the crabapples covered in this article are considered highly invasive. Only the Whitney Crabapple has invasive potential.

However, the Tea or Chinese Crabapple (Malus hupehenisis) and the Japanese Flowering Crabapple (Malus floribunda) are becoming invasive in North America and probably elsewhere and should not be planted when there are so many better non-invasive cultivars available.

Crabapple Diseases

Disease resistance is the most important factor when choosing a crabapple tree.

There are four main diseases that affect crabapples. Fortunately, extensive breeding in the past century has created crabapples that are quite resistant to most or all of the common diseases.

Apple scab is one of the most serious diseases. It is a fungal disease that causes spotting on the leaves, early defoliation, and spots on the fruits. It tends to develop in areas with cool, wet springs. If this describes your area, be sure to choose one that is resistant or tolerant of scab.

Apple_scab_in_Tashkent_region
Image of apple scab by Shuhrataxmedov, Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Cedar-apple rust is another leaf spot disease, though less serious than apple scab. It tends to affect crabapples in areas where native junipers (Juniperus spp) are found or planted. Resistant cultivars should be chosen if you have juniper trees nearby.

Cedar_apple_rust
Image of cedar-apple rust by Ronincmc, Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Powdery mildew is a common fungal disease that anyone with roses is probably already familiar with. It looks like a powdery coating on the leaves and causes them to develop poorly.

Poor air circulation, humid weather, and proximity to susceptible plants will all increase the severity of the disease. Choose a resistant cultivar and plant in full sun with good circulation if your location is prone to this.

Apple_Powdery_Mildew
Image of apple powdery mildew by Jonathan Billinger, CC BY-SA 2.0

Fire blight is a serious bacterial disease that can be fatal to susceptible cultivars if untreated. Fortunately, it is the least common of the diseases, and numerous resistant cultivars are available. Avoid pruning in the spring, and do not over-fertilize, as both of those can weaken the tree and make it more susceptible.

Apple_tree_with_fire_blight
Image of Fireblight by I, Paethon, CC BY-SA 3.0

Interesting Facts About Crabapple Trees

A crabapple is any type of apple tree of the Malus genus that produces fruits 2” in size or smaller. There are numerous species of crabapples, and even the common domestic apple comes in crabapple varieties.

It is a common misconception that apples were introduced to North America with the early settlers in the 1600s, and they are not native there. This misconception has been spread, at least in part, by the story of Johnny Appleseed, who went around the eastern USA planting non-native apples in the early 1800s.

There are four species of crabapples that are native to North America. Sweet Crab (Malus coronaria) is native mostly to the Great Lakes region in the USA and southern Ontario, Canada. Pacific Crabapple (Malus fusca) is native throughout the Pacific Northwest. Prairie Crabapple (Malus ioensis) is native mostly to the upper Mississippi Valley area in the USA. The Southern Crabapple (Malus angustifolia) is native throughout the southeastern USA.

Human Uses of Crabapple Trees

Crabapples are mostly used ornamentally in gardens, parks, landscapes, and streets around the temperate world.

Crabapple trees are often used as pollinator trees around other apples. Their profusion of often strongly scented flowers brings loads of pollinating insects to your yard, enhancing the pollination of all the other trees in its vicinity.

Larger fruited varieties are sometimes eaten fresh but also are popular for use in cooking, jams, jellies, apple butter, apple sauce, and other tasty treats. They have high levels of pectin, which makes them very suitable for making delicious apple butter without the need to add any additional thickeners.

Modern herbalists sometimes use crabapple to treat stomach and bowel disorders.

Crabapple fruits were gathered and eaten by native groups all around North America and were used medicinally to treat stomach problems, skin problems, and eye infections and as an analgesic.

The wood is quite tough and resilient and is sometimes used for making tools and small furniture items. Wood chips are often used for smoking fish and meats.

Wildlife Values Crabapple Trees Provide

Pollinating insects, including bees and butterflies, but also hummingbirds, will often flock to crabapple flowers for the large amounts of nectar they provide.

The fruits of the smaller crabapples are typically left on the tree, where they persist at least into early winter and provide critical nutrition for countless birds and other wildlife species.

Larger fruited varieties will be enjoyed by deer and bears but will also feed small animals as they fall to the ground.

The trees are small, so they are not often used as nesting habitats, but some birds will nest in larger specimens, and all will use the trees as temporary roosts, especially while they feed on their tasty little fruits!

I hope you have enjoyed learning more about these charismatic trees. Now you can use your newfound skills to go out and identify the crabapples around you and maybe grow your own in your yard to enjoy!

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Photo of author

Lyrae Willis

Environmental Scientist & Plant Ecologist

Lyrae grew up in the forests of BC, Canada, where she got a BSc. in Environmental Sciences. Her whole life, she has loved studying plants, from the tiniest flowers to the most massive trees. She is currently researching native plants of North America and spends her time traveling, hiking, documenting, and writing. When not researching, she is homeschooling her brilliant autistic son, who travels with her and benefits from a unique hands-on education about the environment around him.

1 thought on “20 Different Types of Crabapple Trees & Their Identifying Features (With Photos)”

  1. I remember from childhood mature climbable crabapple trees about 15 – 20 ft tall, rounded canopy, white flowered, bright fire engine red miniature apple shaped fruit about 3/8-1/2 inch diameter, leaves with crenate teeth of a rounded rather than oval shape without a pointed tip and somewhat fuzzy underneath. Probably planted in the 1920’s-1940’s. Trunks were 10-12 inch diameter with light brown, flaky bark. Never showed any signs of disease. None are still standing in the old Pennsylvania neighborhood as I remember from 1965 when I was 10 yrs old. I cannot find any reference to such a species/variety in any book or catalogue. Any ideas?? I would love to add an example to my farm orchard to remember my childhood. At least a dozen of these trees were planted throughout our housing development; so they must have been commercially available in eastern Pennsylvania between 1900 and 1940.

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