By The Old House Web


Flowering crabapples are among Michigan's most popular ornamental trees. Few woody plants offer so many all-season values as these trees.

In the spring, the showy blossoms make their appearance in late April or early May before the lilacs bloom. Although actual time of bloom will vary from year to year, depending on temperature, a total bloom period of up to four weeks can be expected. Very early blooming crabapples may flower as early as the star magnolia, while late bloomers may coincide with the black locust. The bloom period of an individual crabapple cultivar may vary from two days to almost two weeks, depending on weather conditions.

Crabapple buds may be pink or red, and the open blossoms of the various crabapples range from white to dark purplish red, with many variations of pink and red in between. Most crabapples have single flowers, but a few have semi-double or double blossoms and bear fewer fruit.

Most crabapples have attractive green foliage. Some have a distinct reddish or bronze leaf color for the first month or so of the growing season, while others retain the reddish coloration throughout the growing season. Most crabapple cultivars do not have ornamental fall colors.

A flowering crabapple is defined as any member of the genus Malus with fruit 2 inches or less in diameter. The color of the 1/4- to 2-inch fruits ranges from bright red to purple and from bright yellow to orange, with intermediate shades and combinations. Fruits of some cultivars begin to color in August, while the fruits of others do not reach their true color until September or October. The fruits of some cultivars ripen and drop by the end of August, but the fruits of others may still be present in the spring.

Flowering crabapples can be less than 20 feet in height, but others may grow to 30 or 40 feet. Most crabapples are rounded and dense, but growth habit varies widely from narrowly upright to weeping. In summer, each form of crabapple lends a distinctive character to the landscape, and the twisted limbs of older specimens add a picturesque beauty to the winter scene. The various plant forms, flowers and fruit colors make crabapples a very useful species in the landscape.

Pest susceptibility, or resistance, must be given as much consideration as the ornamental traits when selecting a crabapple. Four diseases -- apple scab, fire blight, cedar apple rust and powdery mildew -- are the major pest problems affecting crabapples.

Apple scab causes the leaves to turn yellow and drop prematurely in mid- to late summer. This disease is not fatal but requires regular sprays from bud break through mid-June.

Fire blight is a bacterial problem that causes leaves to blacken and hang on the tree. As the bacteria spread to larger branches, more of the tree dies and the bark of infected branches becomes wrinkled and peels. This disease is usually fatal --there is no effective chemical control.

Cedar apple rust is aptly named -- it causes rust- colored spots on the leaves. This problem is less serious than the previous two and can be controlled with fungicides.

Powdery mildew is the least serious of the four diseases. The white, powdery coating on the leaves may not be seen in most years. The disease is easily controlled with fungicides.

To select a good crabapple, look for a combination of desirable ornamental traits plus the least amount of disease susceptibility. Table 4 lists common crabapple cultivars along with their ornamental traits and disease susceptibility.

The table lists commonly available crabapple species and cultivars. The first column lists the form, or growth habit, using the same codes as in the other tables. The left part of the "flowers" column indicates whether the flowers are single (Sgl) or double (Dbl); the right part of the column gives the flower color. The color of the fruit is listed in the "fruit" column.

The last four columns of the table indicate the susceptibility of the cultivar to the disease named in the heading of each column.

Ornamental traits and susceptibility to diseases of common crabapple species and cultivars

------------------------------------------------------------ |FO| |FRU| APPLE | FIRE |APPLE |POWDERY MALUS |RM|FLOWERS |IT | SCAB |BLIGHT |RUST |MILDEW ----------|--|--------|---|--------|--------|------|-------- baccata | U|Sgl Wht|Red| | Severe | | Slight Jackii | | |Pur| | | | ----------|--|--------|---|--------|--------|------|-------- Bob White | R|Sgl Wht|Yel| |Moderate| | Slight ----------|--|--------|---|--------|--------|------|-------- Brandywine| R|Dbl Pnk|Non|Moderate| |Severe| ----------|--|--------|---|--------|--------|------|-------- Centurion | U|Sgl Pnk|Red| Severe | | | ----------|--|--------|---|--------|--------|------|-------- Coralburst| R|Sgl Pnk|Red| Severe | | | ----------|--|--------|---|--------|--------|------|-------- David | R|Sgl Wht|Red|Moderate| Slight | | ----------|--|--------|---|--------|--------|------|-------- Dolgo | U|Sgl Wht|Red|Moderate| Slight | | ----------|--|--------|---|--------|--------|------|-------- floribunda| R|Sgl Pnk|Yel| Slight |Moderate| | Slight | | |Red| | | | ----------|--|--------|---|--------|--------|------|-------- Golden | U|Sgl Wht|Yel| Severe | Severe | | Hornet | | | | | | | ----------|--|--------|---|--------|--------|------|-------- Harvest | U|Sgl Wht|Yel| Severe | | | Gold | | | | | | | ----------|--|--------|---|--------|--------|------|-------- hupehensis| U|Sgl Pnk|Yel| | Severe | | | | |Red| | | | ----------|--|--------|---|--------|--------|------|-------- Indian | R|Sgl Pnk|Red| Severe | |Slight| Magic | | | | | | | ----------|--|--------|---|--------|--------|------|-------- Mary | S|Sgl Wht|Red| Severe |Moderate| |Moderate Potter | | | | | | | ----------|--|--------|---|--------|--------|------|-------- Profusion | R|Sgl Red|Red| Severe | Slight | |Moderate ----------|--|--------|---|--------|--------|------|-------- Red Baron | U|Sgl Red|Red| Severe | Slight |Slight| ----------|--|--------|---|--------|--------|------|-------- Red Jade | W|Sgl Wht|Red| Severe | Severe | | ----------|--|--------|---|--------|--------|------|-------- Red Jewel | U|Sgl Wht|Red|Moderate| Severe | | Slight ----------|--|--------|---|--------|--------|------|-------- Robinson | U|Sgl Pnk|Red| Severe | | | ----------|--|--------|---|--------|--------|------|-------- Royalty | U|Sgl Red|Red| Severe | Severe | | ----------|--|--------|---|--------|--------|------|-------- sargentii | S|Sgl Wht|Red| |Moderate| | ----------|--|--------|---|--------|--------|------|-------- Selkirk | U|Sgl Red|Red| Severe | Slight | | ----------|--|--------|---|--------|--------|------|-------- sieboldi | R|Sgl Wht|Red| Slight | Severe | | Slight var. zumi| | | | | | | Calocarpa | | | | | | | ----------|--|--------|---|--------|--------|------|-------- Snowdrift | R|Sgl Wht|Red| Severe | Severe | | ----------|--|--------|---|--------|--------|------|-------- Weeping | W|Sgl Pnk|Red|Moderate| | | Candied | | | | | | | Apple | | | | | | | ----------|--|--------|---|--------|--------|------|-------- White | U|Sgl Wht|Red| Slight |Moderate|Severe| Angel | | | | | | | ----------|--|--------|---|--------|--------|------|-------- White | W|Sgl Wht|Yel|Moderate| | | Cascade | | | | | | | ------------------------------------------------------------ From NCR 78 Publication.

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