When choosing flowering trees for the landscape the crab apples are a great choice. These plants offer edible fruits that can be used for various culinary purposes.
Young America Crab
Bred at the New York Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York, it was released in the 1920’s. This is a very vigorous, attractive tree,
Quite hardy, it yields large crops of fruits that ripen in early fall. These fruits are very large for a crab. They have a distinctive, tart flavor. Good for eating fresh, these fruits are also great for cooking, preserves, and jelly.
Plum leaf crab (Malus prunifolia)
Also called pear leaf and Chinese apple, this is recommended for zones three through nine. It is believed to be a natural hybrid of the Siberian crab. This is a small, wide spreading tree that was native to Asia. Historically, it has been used extensively for breeding apples. This tree can withstand dry weather. Though it is susceptible to scab, late spring frosts aren’t a problem. Several cultivars of this species are available.
The plum leaf crab tends to bear very heavy crops in alternate years. The young growth is covered with down. The oval foliage is four inches in length. The buds are pink to red, while the blossoms are white. The fragrant flowers are 1½ inches wide. These open during mid-spring, usually in early May.
The long to rounded fruits can be red or yellow, up to an inch long. They tend on hang on the trees. The fruits are especially good for eating fresh. In addition, these are used for preserves and other culinary purposes.
Easy to grow, this very floriferous tree is dwarf. It reaches about ten feet in height with a slightly smaller spread. One of the best for the Pacific Northwest, this is hardy to around -10 degrees Fahrenheit. The trees are resistant to apple scab. This is a relatively new variety, and was introduced from France.
The trees bloom for an extended period during the spring. The blossoms are white to whitish-pink.
The trees are very productive, producing masses of red fruits, which are an inch in diameter. These crab apples are excellent for cider as well as for jelly, cooking, and other culinary purposes.
Parkman Crab (Malus halliana var. Parkmanii)
Suited for zones five through eight, this can reach 15 to 20 feet in height. This small tree can be vase shaped, upright, or rounded. It is densely branched. Parkman is susceptible to fire blight with some susceptibility to rust.
The toothed, leathery, greenish-bronze foliage is shiny. This is up to three inches long. Blooming heavily each year, this tree has deep red flower buds and red flower stalks.
The blossoms can be semi-double or fully double. Pastel pink, these are up to 1¼ inch wide. This variety blooms in mid-spring, usually in early May. It is among the most beautiful of the crab apples when in full bloom.
The dull fruits are purple to purplish-red, and are about the size of a pea. They’re great for eating fresh and culinary purpo