Crab Apple Malus sylvestris


The crab apple is a Eurasian species, south-east Europe being the chief centre of its distribution. It is much more frost-resistant than the pear and grows farther north. In central Europe, it occurs in hill country in mixed, broad-leaved woods, mostly in stands of oaks, where it has ample light, even near the forest floor.

The crab apple is a small tree growing to a height of only 5 to 10 metres. It has a broad crown and grey-brown bark that peels off in thin scales. The flowers, borne in clusters, are usually pinkish outside, white inside, with yellow stamens, and open one to several weeks later than those of the pear. The fruit is a small greenish yellow apple, sometimes flushed red, with a short stalk and brown, drop-like seeds.

The crab apple thrives best in moist fertile soils, and requires ample light for good growth. It is the main species, and has given rise to many cultivated varieties. Fruit-growers to this day use it as a frost-resistant dwarfing rootstock for grafting the garden varieties. In the wild, its fruit is eaten by forest animals, and many of its lovely, richly coloured, flowering forms are frequently planted in parks as ornamentals.

Leaves: Broadly ovate, 3—5 cm long, with serrate margins, 4—5 pairs of secondary veins, and stalks shorter than the blade.

Flowers: White, often flushed pink with yellow stamens. Fruit: Ycllow-grccn and red apple measuring 2—5 cm across.