There are many fine ornamental crabs from which we can choose. Some of these bear excellent quality fruits that are used for various culinary purposes. Here are several recommended varieties of crabs.
This is also called Geneva Redflesh. It was introduced in the 1930’s, and originated in Canada. An excellent ornamental for the landscape, this hardy tree is resistant to apple scab. It is noteworthy due to the deep maroon foliage. This variety can’t be used as a pollenizer for apple trees.
Geneva crab ripens early, starting in late August into September. With a pronounced acid flavor, this is often used for cider. The medium to large fruits have reddish-pink flesh. They’re great for juice and jelly. These can also be eaten fresh.
John Downie Crab
This vigorous tree originated in Lichfield, England, and reaches 35 feet in height. It arrived in the U.S. prior to the 1930’s. Recommended for zones four through nine, this very attractive tree is disease resistant. Pink in bud, the single white blossoms are two inches wide.
It bears large crops of pear-shaped fruits. These large crabs are nearly 1½ inch in diameter. Ripening to golden-orange or yellow with red, these are oval. Excellent for cooking, these fruits are used for preserves, jelly, and other culinary purposes.
Midget Crab (Malus micromalus)
Also called kaido crab, this was a natural hybrid, probably of the Chinese flowering crab and the Siberian crab. It is hardy to zone four or so, and is recommended to zone nine. This small tree can possibly reach 25 feet in height. It has a dense, spreading, rounded growth habit. The branches are upright. The trees are susceptible to fire blight, but have excellent resistance to scab. Often used as rootstock for dwarf apple trees, this is an excellent ornamental for the landscape. Very floriferous, it tends to bloom and bear heavily in alternate years.
The shiny, oblong, toothed foliage tapers to a sharp point. It is four inches in length. Red in bud, the large, deep pink or white blooms open in clusters in early May. Very long lasting, these are darker towards the center. They reach 1¾ inch in diameter.
The pointed, red fruits are small, less than an inch or so in diameter. These ripen in mid-season, usually in the fall, and last until early winter. Pick in a timely manner as they can turn brown while still on the tree. The tree is called midget crab due to the size of the small fruits. The fruits are eaten fresh and for culinary purposes.