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Crab Apple

Malus sylvestris

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Rosaceae (Rose)
Also in this family:
Acute Leaf-lobed Lady's-mantle, Alpine Cinquefoil, Alpine Lady's-mantle, Ampfield Cotoneaster, Arran Service Tree, Arran Whitebeam, Barren Strawberry, Bastard Agrimony, Bastard Service Tree, Bearberry Cotoneaster, Bird Cherry, Blackthorn, Bloody Whitebeam, Bramble, Bristol Whitebeam, Broad-leaved Whitebeam, Broadtooth Lady's-mantle, Bronze Pirri-pirri-bur, Bullace Plum, Bullate Cotoneaster, Burnet Rose, Catacol Whitebeam, Caucasian Lady's-mantle, Cheddar Whitebeam, Cherry Laurel, Cherry Plum, Chinese Photinia, Cloudberry, Clustered Lady's-mantle, Common Agrimony, Common Hawthorn, Common Lady's-mantle, Common Medlar, Common Ninebark, Common Whitebeam, Creeping Chinese Bramble, Creeping Cinquefoil, Crimean Lady's-mantle, Cultivated Apple, Cultivated Pear, Cut-leaved Blackberry, Damson, Devon Whitebeam, Dewberry, Diel's Cotoneaster, Dog Rose, Doward Whitebeam, Dropwort, Elm-leaved Bramble, English Whitebeam, Entire-leaved Cotoneaster, False Salmonberry, Field Rose, Firethorn, Fodder Burnet, Fragrant Agrimony, Franchet's Cotoneaster, Garden Lady's-mantle, Garden Strawberry, Giant Meadowsweet, Glaucous Dog Rose, Goatsbeard Spiraea, Gough's Rock Whitebeam, Great Burnet, Greengage Plum, Grey-leaved Whitebeam, Hairless Lady's-mantle, Hairy Lady's-mantle, Hautbois Strawberry, Himalayan Blackberry, Himalayan Cotoneaster, Himalayan Whitebeam, Hoary Cinquefoil, Hollyberry Cotoneaster, Hupeh Rowan, Hybrid Cinquefoil, Hybrid Geum, Irish Whitebeam, Japanese Cherry, Japanese Quince, Japanese Rose, Jew's Mallow, Juneberry, Lancaster Whitebeam, Late Cotoneaster, Least Lady's-mantle, Least Whitebeam, Leigh Woods Whitebeam, Ley's Whitebeam, Liljefor's Whitebeam, Littleleaf Cotoneaster, Llangollen Whitebeam, Llanthony Whitebeam, Lleyn Cotoneaster, Loganberry, Many-flowered Rose, Margaret's Whitebeam, Marsh Cinquefoil, Meadowsweet, Midland Hawthorn, Mougeot's Whitebeam, Mountain Ash, Mountain Avens, Mountain Sibbaldia, Moupin's Cotoneaster, No Parking Whitebeam, Ocean Spray, Orange Whitebeam, Pale Bridewort, Pale Lady's-mantle, Parsley Piert, Pirri-pirri-bur, Plymouth Pear, Portuguese Laurel, Purple-flowered Raspberry, Quince, Raspberry, Rock Cinquefoil, Rock Lady's-mantle, Rock Whitebeam, Round-leaved Dog Rose, Round-leaved Whitebeam, Rum Cherry, Russian Cinquefoil, Salad Burnet, Sargent's Rowan, Scannell's Whitebeam, Service Tree, Sharp-toothed Whitebeam, Sherard's Downy Rose, Shining Lady's-mantle, Ship Rock Whitebeam, Short-styled Rose, Shrubby Cinquefoil, Silver Lady's-mantle, Silverweed, Slender Parsley Piert, Slender-spined Bramble, Small-flowered Sweetbriar, Small-leaved Sweetbriar, Soft Downy Rose, Somerset Whitebeam, Sorbaria, Sour Cherry, Southern Downy Rose, Southern Lady's-mantle, Spineless Acaena, Spring Cinquefoil, St. Lucie's Cherry, Steeplebush, Stern's Cotoneaster, Stirton's Whitebeam, Stone Bramble, Sulphur Cinquefoil, Swedish Service Tree, Swedish Whitebeam, Sweet Briar, Symond's Yat Whitebeam, Tengyueh Cotoneaster, Thimbleberry, Thin-leaved Whitebeam, Tibetan Cotoneaster, Tormentil, Trailing Tormentil, Tree Cotoneaster, Trefoil Cinquefoil, Twin-cliffs Whitebeam, Two-spined Acaena, Wall Cotoneaster, Water Avens, Waterer's Cotoneaster, Waxy Lady's-mantle, Welsh Cotoneaster, Welsh Whitebeam, White Burnet, White's Whitebeam, White-stemmed Bramble, Wild Cherry, Wild Pear, Wild Plum, Wild Service Tree, Wild Strawberry, Willmott's Whitebeam, Willow-leaved Bridewort, Willow-leaved Cotoneaster, Wineberry, Wood Avens, Wye Whitebeam, Yellow-flowered Strawberry
Deciduous tree
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
10 metres tall
Gardens, hedgerows, scrub, woodland.

White, 5 petals
Pinkish white in small clusters, 5 petals.
Fruit is long stalked, small and round, no larger than 2 inches in diameter but usually much smaller. Colour is very variable.
Deciduous. Stalked, oval with serrated edges.
Sweet-scented flowers.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Malus sylvestris, also known as European wild apple or common crabapple, is a deciduous tree that is native to Europe. It belongs to the rose family and is known for its small, white or pink flowers and small, tart fruits. Malus sylvestris is a medium-sized tree that can reach heights of up to 25 feet (7.5 meters) and is often used as an ornamental tree in gardens. It is easy to grow and is tolerant of a wide range of soil types and climates. Malus sylvestris prefers full sun and is drought-tolerant once established. The tree is generally hardy and low maintenance, but it can be prone to pests such as apple scab and apple maggots. Malus sylvestris is also known for its medicinal properties and has been used traditionally to treat a variety of ailments. However, more research is needed to fully understand its effects and to determine the safety and effectiveness of using it medicinally.


Crab apples, also known as Malus sylvestris, are a type of small, ornamental tree that are native to Europe, Asia, and North America. These trees are known for their beautiful blossoms and colorful fruit, which can range in color from red and pink to yellow and orange.

One of the most striking features of crab apples is their springtime blooms. The trees produce clusters of small, delicate flowers that are usually pink or white in color. These blossoms are incredibly fragrant and attract bees and other pollinators to the tree.

In addition to their beautiful flowers, crab apples also produce small, colorful fruit. These fruit are typically about the size of a cherry and can be red, pink, yellow, or orange in color. The fruit is not typically eaten by humans, but it can be used to make jelly or preserves.

Crab apples are also popular for their small size, which makes them a great choice for smaller gardens and yards. They can reach a height of 20-30 feet and typically have a rounded canopy. They are also highly adaptable to a variety of soil types and climates.

Another benefit of crab apples is that they are resistant to many of the common diseases that plague other types of apples. This makes them a great choice for those who want to grow their own fruit but are concerned about the potential for disease.

Overall, crab apples are a versatile and beautiful tree that can add color and interest to any garden. They are easy to care for and are great for both novice and experienced gardeners. Whether you're looking for a small tree to add to your yard or are interested in growing your own fruit, crab apples are a great choice.

Crab apples are also used for their ornamental value in landscaping. The tree has a unique shape and branching habit that creates a beautiful form and the bark can be interesting to look at. The leaves of the tree are also quite attractive, with a glossy green color that turns to a yellow-orange in fall, adding to the tree's overall appeal.

Another great aspect of crab apples is that they are relatively low maintenance. They don't require a lot of pruning or special care, and they are quite hardy. They can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions and are not particularly picky about the amount of sunlight they receive. This makes them a great option for those who are new to gardening or who don't have a lot of time to devote to tree care.

For those who are interested in growing their own fruit, crab apples can be a great option. Although the fruit is small and not typically eaten fresh, it can be used to make jelly, preserves, or even cider. The fruit can also be used to attract wildlife to your yard, as birds and other animals love to eat crab apples.

It's important to note that when choosing a crab apple tree for your garden, it's essential to select a cultivar that is suited to your climate and growing conditions. Some cultivars are more disease-resistant than others, and some are better suited to specific climates. Consulting with a local nursery or horticulturist before purchasing your tree will help ensure that you select the best option for your garden.

Another benefit of crab apples is that they can be used for bonsai. Bonsai is an ancient art form in which miniature trees are grown and shaped to create miniature landscapes. Crab apples are a popular choice for bonsai because of their small size, delicate flowers, and colorful fruit. They can be shaped and trained to create beautiful and intricate designs, making them a great option for those who are interested in bonsai.

Crab apples also have an historical significance. They have been cultivated for centuries and have been mentioned in various historical texts. They were a favorite of ancient Greek and Roman cultures, and have been used in traditional medicine for their medicinal properties. They are also considered to have symbolic meanings in many cultures.

When it comes to planting crab apples, it is important to consider the location and soil conditions. They prefer well-drained soil and a location that gets full sun, but can tolerate partial shade. They should be planted in the early spring or fall, when the soil is still moist. Once planted, they should be watered regularly, but be careful not to over-water.

In order to keep your crab apple tree healthy, it's important to fertilize it regularly. You can use a slow-release fertilizer or organic matter, such as compost, to provide the tree with the nutrients it needs. It's also important to prune the tree regularly to remove any dead or damaged branches, which will help promote healthy growth.

In conclusion, crab apples are a versatile and beautiful tree that can be used for various purposes. They are perfect for small gardens, bonsai and have historical significance. They are also relatively low maintenance, which makes them a great option for both novice and experienced gardeners. With their beautiful blossoms, colorful fruit, and ornamental bark and leaves, crab apples are a wonderful addition to any landscape.


A Crab Apple tree filmed at the entrance to New Barns Caravan site, Arnside, Carnforth on the 14th August 2022.


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Distribution Map

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