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A picture of a Crab Apple

Crab Apple

Malus sylvestris

Also known as

Wild Apple, European Apple, Blomappel, Wildeappel (Afr.), Apple Tree, European crab apple

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

Full Sun
Easy care
Moderate watering
Frost Hardy

7a

USDA zone

-18°C

Minimum temperature

Expected size

Height
Spread

12m

Max

8m

3m

Min

2m

Fruiting

  • 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
Villeple

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

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.

Seed

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.

Budding

You can propagate by budding in late summer.

Grafting

Grafting in mid-winter.

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

Culinary

Edible

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

Native British Trees

Learn about the trees native to the UK and the critical role trees play in securing the future of our planet.

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