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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Malus - Crabapple

Describing a Malus is like trying to describe a pine tree, there are so many species as well as hundreds of cultivars it would be nearly impossible, but the all have things in common.  But we are only going to consider the crabapples and not the "fruit tree" apples. They are for the most part small trees, deciduous, with pretty flowers, fruit and decent fall color. The difference between a crabapple and an apple is the fruit size, crabs being smaller than 2 inches. I am not a crabapple expert, I try to determine what someone might want, flower color, fruit color and size and overall size of the tree, then select one that fits those needs. There as several that are pretty easy to identify, others, yikes. This picture is from Schmidts Nursery in Oregon, they have hundreds on display.

Here is a pink flowering one,

A weeping one, also showing fall color and attractive fruit.

A white flowering dwarf one,

Foliage is alternate, simple, light green, serrated and lightly hairy on the lower surface. But there are some that have leaves that are deeply dissected. There are several cultivars with purple foliage, Prairie Fire is a popular one in colder climates.

Flowers are large, generally with 5 petals, white, pink or red. Some early and some late.

Fruit is a pome, variable in size, from 3/8" to at least 2" for crabapples. They can be yellow, orange or red. I personally like the tiny fruited varieties.

There are some cultivars that I can spot a long way away, Klem's Improved Bechtel is one of them. The flowers are very large, almost flat and a pretty pink, they almost look fake.

Misidentification: Hard to say, once you know a crabapple. But deciding which crab you have without a name tag can be very difficult.


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