Crabapple trees are a landscape delight!
Crabapple trees brighten a yard with their profuse and fragrant flower display. The fruits add color later in the summer and sometimes clear into winter. Some of the fruits are quite edible, and they are also good food to offer the birds. There are varieties that have different colors of blossoms from white to pink, and apricot. If you want a crabapple for the blossoms, but do not want to deal with fruit, there is a variety that will not set fruit. But I think it is nice to get a variety with persistent fruit (doesn't fall off the tree) and let the birds have it.
When I was in about the fourth grade, I attended an art fair in a park. My mother was involved with the art fair, so I and my sisters had to spend the day keeping ourselves occupied. I wandered through a small orchard of crabapple trees. I was fascinated by their tiny fruits, and tasted the fruit of every one. One of the trees had a red crabapple that looked just like a miniature red delicious apple. I bit into it, and it tasted just like one, too! I was so delighted that there was a miniature apple that tasted good, it never left my mind. Most crabapples have a bit of a sour-bitter taste to them, but some are good to eat fresh.
About that fruit -- There are so many uses for crabapples! They are often a component of cider, where they offer the more astringent flavor to a hard cider. Then there is jelly, of course. Some folks who are into making crabapple jelly are connoisseurs of the varied subtle flavors of different cultivars. Speaking of jelly - crabapples are a good source of pectin, so it is possible to make the jelly without using commercial pectin. You might wonder why it would be desirable to have a fresh-eating crabapple and have to put up with all that core and skin just for a bite or two of apple, but kids love that concept. I'm thinking about finding a good red miniature-fruited crabapple and making it a bonsai.
Crabapple trees can be pruned and cared for just like apple trees. In fact, the only real difference between them is the size of the fruit (above or below 2 inches diameter). They can be used as a pollinator for your apple trees. Spray and fertilize them just as you would an apple tree. They are often susceptible to the same diseases, especially scab which can kill the tree if not controlled. Crabs can be grafted to the same rootstocks for dwarfing and disease resistance as apples. You can go the other way, too. I am currently experimenting with using a northwest native crabapple as rootstock for apples. The advantage of this is that this particular native is tolerant of wet clay soil and salty air. Well, I have the wet clay soil, anyway. To return to the home page from the Crabapple page.