The flowering crabs or rosyblooms are an invaluable group of hardy, small, occasionally medium-sized garden trees providing a variety of shapes and attractive spring bloom in a range of colour from white to deep wine red. Some have purple or red-tinted foliage and many give attractive autumn fruits which are also useful for crab apple jelly. A few provide autumn-tinted leaves. All the following species and varieties thrive on any reasonably fertile soil and make a short list of the best of the numerous varieties available today which combine beauty with vigour and reliability.
Almey is a Canadian-raised small tree, ultimately of rounded habit with reddish young leaves, and large red flowers with white centres, followed by orange-red persistent fruits. Malus coronaria charlottae (fore pleno), a form of an eastern North American species, makes a small tree of spreading habit. The large, semi-double, violet-scented, shell-pink flowers are produced in late spring and early summer The large leaves colour richly in autumn.
M. floribunda is the Japanese crab. It forms a small free-flowering tree of graceful habit, semi-pendulous or umbrella headed with age. This handsome species is truly spectacular when in bloom in the early spring, its arching branches densely wreathed in apple-blossom pink flowers which are crimson in bud.
Golden Hornet makes a small round-headed tree with erect-growing branches. The white spring flowers are followed by heavy crops of persistent bright yellow fruits. This is a fine fruiting crab. A small tree of somewhat pendulous habit in maturity, John Downie is generally re garded as the best fruiting crab for both appearance and preserve making. The attractive conical scarlet and orange fruits are reliably produced each autumn.
Katherine is a small round-headed tree of American raising. It has very large semi-double pink flowers which slowly fade to white and these are followed by bright red, yellow-tinted fruits. Profusion (lemoinei x sieboldii) is the best of several varieties with red young leaves and wine-red flowers. A small tree of good constitution, its large flowers are profusely borne in clusters of six or seven, and are followed by small ox-blood red fruits.
M. tschonoskii is a Japanese species of medium-sized erect pyramidal habit. It is notable for its silvery-white felted young shoots and in particular for its magnificent display of autumn leaf colour. The large pink-tinted flowers fade to white. Finally there is Van Eseltine which is an ideal small garden tree of distinct narrow upright form. The large semi-double flowers, red in bud, open soft pink and are followed by yellow fruits.