Jorge, Plants, Trees

As a species, the underrated crabapple has many great features. Its fruit is long lasting and can survive well into winter, providing a source of nutrients for birds and welcome colour in the garden. Like Malus in general, crabapples are a great source of pectin and can be used to create a range of culinary delights; and are often used as a substitute for pectin products, saving unnecessary expenditure and increasing self-sustainability. Like its wonderful blossom, its fruit is profuse it can be harvested over a long period, providing abundant nutrients for the family.

The blossom is often fragrant and constitutes a worthy competitor to cherry blossom with numerous tones available. Constituting great pollinators, they are the perfect addition to your apple orchard, increasing cropping and enhancing taste. Its deep roots allow one to maintain the perfect lawn and as a native species, they are hardy and great for wildlife. Finally, they are versatile and suitable for all but well drained soils and will often thrive as part of a bed.

Primrose Crabapples A-Z

Malus ‘Butterball’

Originating from North America, the Butterball is among the best crabapples for autumn colour, producing an abundance of yellow fruits. Great for cottage planting schemes, this small tree slots well into any bed and produces pink-blushed white flowers come spring.

Malus ‘Evereste’

An offspring of no fewer than four cultivars, the tree was developed over a long time span, first in the United States and later in France when it was completed by the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique in 1977. Not actually named after Mount Everest, its name is a play on words with evereste signaling the eve (apples) reste (rest) on the tree all winter. The tree is known for its disease resistance and is immune to fire blight, apple scab and powdery mildew. Profuse, the tree produces white flowers and orange fruit with streaks of red.

Malus floribunda ‘Japanese Crabapple’

Highly popular and deservedly so, the tree is great for form and flower, producing a dense rounded canopy with fragrant deep pink flowers emerging from deep red buds, which turn white over time. The fruits can vary from nursery to nursery and are sometimes red, but often yellow. First introduced from Japan in the 1860s, the variety is naturally resistant to apple scab and its gene has been spliced into many cultivated varieties.

Malus ‘John Downie’

Named after a Scottish nurseryman, this popular crabapple is notable for its gorgeous fruit, great in both taste and appearance. Perfect for crabapple jelly, its fruit is large and red-yellow in colour, while its single-flower blossom is white.

Malus ‘Montreal Beauty’

Perfect for small gardens, Montreal Beauty is notable for its large white flowers, backdropped by crisp green leaves.

Malus ‘Pink Perfection’

Pink Perfection is one of the few crabapples with double-flowers and henceforth has more petals than most cultivars. Emerging from pink buds, its flowers are white and are intricately clustered as if arranged by a florist.

Malus pumila ‘Royalty’

The Royalty is notable for its bronze-leaved foliage and dark purple blossom. It was developed from the Malus ‘Niedzwetzkyana’, a cultivar from central Asia from which all bronze-leaved and purple-flowering crabapples derive. Its fruitlets are deep red and unsuitable for culinary use.

Malus ‘Sun Rival’

Weeping in habit, this small tree forms an unusual umbrella shape and has distinctive cascades of white flowers.

Malus x atrosanguinea ‘Gorgeous’

A fantastic ornamental, Gorgeous creates an array of colours throughout the seasons starting with its white flower, emerging from pink buds. Next come crimson fruit in great numbers that are highly suitable for jelly. And finally, unlike other crabapples, its leaves turn yellow and orange come autumn.

Malus x moerlandsii ‘Liset’

If you love intense colours, the Liset is for you with its deep reddish-pink flowers and small cherry-like fruits, completed by dark-green foliage.

Malus x moerlandsii ‘Profusion’

A fantastic tree for year round colour, the Profusion’s leaves first start coppery red, before turning dark green when mature and then bronze come autumn. Its flowers are dainty with long elliptic petals, dainty in appearance, and long white stamens with yellow tops. Rounding off the year are its purple fruits, which are unsuitable for culinary use, but great for bees.

Malus x purpurea ‘Neville Copeman’

Heavy cropping, high in pectin, the Neville Copeman’s plum-like fruit is sometimes eaten fresh, but be warned it’s sour! It is a great pollinator and very popular with bees. Its foliage is purple-flushed and blossom two-tone pink.

Malus x robusta ‘Red Sentinel’

Regardless of weather, the red sentinel’s red fruit can last all the way to Christmas and longer, constituting a fantastic source of colour and nutrients for birds. Shapely, the tree constitutes an ideal center-piece and come spring is covered in numerous fragrant white blossom.

Malus x zumi ‘Golden Hornet’

An offspring of the Malus prunifolia rinki, the Hornet was first raised in the UK in 1949. Its fruit is high pectin and is henceforth useable as a source of pectin and great for jams. A great pollinator with long lasting pink white blossom, the tree can be commonly viewed at the end of rows of apple trees in commercial orchards. Profuse in bloom and fruit, the Hornet creates great colour throughout the year with its leaves turning yellow come autumn.

Jorge at PrimroseJorge works in the Primrose marketing team. He is an avid reader, although struggles to stick to one topic!

His ideal afternoon would involve a long walk, before settling down for scones.

Jorge is a journeyman gardener with experience in growing crops.

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Garden Design, Gardening, Liam, Plants, Trees, Wildlife

Cherry trees are one of the nation’s, if not the world’s, favourite species of ornamental tree. However, there is another tree which flowers heavy, remains small but also gives the added appeal of bright and colourful fruit; the humble crabapple. Often overlooked by gardeners a crabapple tree is fully hardy and well suited to the UK climate with a fantastic spring bloom. With smaller growth than most cherry trees they are perfect for a more modern, compact garden. The benefits and aesthetic achieved with a crabapple tree can be a refreshing surprise.

In many ways the crabapple serves a national duty. Native to these shores they tolerate the worst of the British weather and can be grown in almost any soil type as long as it is well-drained. Nearly all are recognised wildlife benefactors and so are fantastic for up-keeping our national biodiversity. There really should be a crab-apple for every home!

Crab-Apple Blossom
Beautiful Crab-Apple Blossom

Most crabapple varieties produce a bloom heavy enough to rival that of any cherry tree and can come in a variety of different tones. You may get light white or deep pink, sweetly scented flowers. Flowering in Spring they are one of the first to add colour to the garden. This is an essential helping hand to pollinating insects coming out of winter. All of this keeps the rest of your garden healthy and looking great!

What a crabapple gives you over an ornamental cherry tree however is the colourful, jewel-like fruit which can hang on well into winter and even through to the new year depending on variety. The tree therefore gives you a rich and varying pallet of tones potentially for over half a year! The deeper roots of a Crabapple also make them a safer bet to maintaining a healthy lawn than a cherry blossom.

But that’s not all, the fruit serves more functions than those purely aesthetic. Despite the fact that nearly all varieties are far too sour to eat in their natural state crabapples serve a host of culinary functions. Rich in pectin crab apples are used for making fantastic jams and jellies which can be served on bread, scones or used to compliment various meats. And if you won’t eat the fruit, birds and small mammals certainly will in those tough winter months.

If you already own apple trees then you’ve just been given another huge reason to love the crabapple. Crabapples can cross pollinate nearly all other varieties of apple as long as they both have a similar flowering period. It is for this reason that crabapples are often dotted around apple orchards to offer variety and pollinate the edible cultivars enriching their flavour.

Bird Enjoying Crabapples During Winter

So there you have it; if you have an ornamental cherry (or two) in the garden, or if you are just looking for something a bit different then look no further than the crabapple. Hardy, beautiful and versatile they continue to serve us well and are becoming increasingly important as our gardens become smaller and our native species come under increasing attack.

Liam at PrimroseLiam works in the buying team at Primrose. He is passionate about studying other cultures, especially their history. A lover of sports his favourite pass-time is football, either playing or watching it! In the garden Liam is particularly interested in growing your own food.

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