As the summer begins to wind down the trees that provided us with showy blooms are beginning to bear fruit. Including our native crabapple trees. There are 35 species and 700 cultivars of crabapple (Malus spp.) found throughout the United States. These small- to medium-sized trees need plenty of sunlight to be happy, so they are often found in partially treed, “old field,” and in landscape settings.
Crabapples can grow in a variety of soils, and they prefer full sunlight. These trees do not self pollinate, so they are very dependent on bees and other insects for fruiting. The fruit of the crabapple ripens in the fall about the same time as regular apple trees. Crabapples are eaten by deer, raccoons, and many birds, but they are very sour and bitter to the taste when eaten raw. Crabapples are sometimes used for jellies and jams, and they can be dried and ground into a sour tasting condiment. The wood can be used for curing food, since it produces a lot of smoke with little flame when burning, and has a pleasant fruity aroma. Crabapple firewood burns long and hot, with a pleasant odor, making it a good choice for the fireplace. Crabapples hybridize easily, so there are a wide variety of cultivars present. There are a number of diseases that affect a crabapple such as scab, cedar apple rust, and fire blight. Many ornamental varieties were developed that have natural resistance to these diseases, so it is a good idea to choose a disease resistant variety when establishing landscape plantings.
Article by FCFCDB
Nature note for 8/28/21