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A picture of a Crab Apple

Crab Apple

Malus sylvestris

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Also known as

Wild Crab, European Apple, Apple Tree

Malus sylvestris Wild Crab მაჟალო (2) by Lazaregagnidze (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Full Sun
Easy care
Moderate watering
Frost Hardy


RHS hardiness


Minimum temperature

Expected size









  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

Some crabapple fruit are red when ripe while others are yellowish-orange. The easiest way to tell if fruit are ripe is to cut them in half to see if the seeds are brown, which means they are ready to be picked.

More images of Crab Apple

Malus sylvestris (villeple) knopper
Malus sylvestris inflorescence, Vosseslag, Belgium
A photo of Crab Apple

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Crab Apple Overview

Malus sylvestris is commonly known by the names Crab Apple, Wild Apple, European Apple or Apple Tree. Crab Apple are small, rounded, deciduous trees that bloom prolifically during spring, have decorative edible fruit and often attractive autumn foliage. Leaves are oval and the flowers white tinged with pink. The blooms measure around 5cm across, appearing from late spring. The flowers lead onto green-yellow fruits measuring up to 3cm across, sometimes flushed with red. They are often grown as cross-pollinators in commercial orchards. Crab Apples make good ornamental trees because of their decorative fruit, pretty flowers and occasional​ autumn colour.

Common problems with Crab Apple

Crabapples suffer from aphids, apple canker, apple scab, blossom wilt, caterpillars, fireblight, powdery mildews, spider mite, honey fungus, and woolly aphid. Also look out for snout beetles, codling moth, fruit fly and fusi.

How to propagate Crab Apple


Cuttings for grafting should be done in midwinter when trees are in rest or bud in early autumn to allow to grow into the rootstock over winter.


Sow seed in a seedbed 1-2 cm deep in autumn, 3-6 cm apart or keep seeds in fridge for 3 months for stratification and plant in Spring. Graft or bud desired cultivar on seedling.

Special features of Crab Apple

Autumn colour

The trees often have attractive autumn leaves

Attractive flowers

Attractive fruits

Attractive leaves

Attracts bees

Attracts butterflies

Attracts useful insects

Other uses of Crab Apple



The fruits are edible raw and can be made into jelly, preserves, and cider.

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