Type:Trees and shrubs
Pest issues:Numerous
Disease issues:Numerous

Malus is a genus of about 30-35 species of small deciduous trees or shrubs in the family Rosaceae, including the domesticated Orchard Apple, or Table apple as it was formerly called (M. sylvestris domestica, derived from M. sylvestris sieversii, syn. M. pumila). The other species and subspecies are generally known as "wild apples", "crab apples", "crabapples" or "crabs", this name being derived from their small and tart fruit. The genus is native to the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere, in Europe, Asia and North America.

Description edit

Apple trees are small, typically 4-12 m tall at maturity, with a dense, twiggy crown. The leaves are 3-10 cm long, alternate, simple, with a serrated margin. The flowers are borne in corymbs, and have five petals, which may be white, pink or red, and are perfect, with usually red stamens that produce copious pollen, and an inferior ovary; flowering occurs in the spring after 50-80 growing degree days (varying greatly according to subspecies and cultivar). Apples require cross-pollination between individuals by insects (typically bees, which freely visit the flowers for both nectar and pollen); all are self-sterile, and (with the exception of a few specially developed cultivars) self-pollination is impossible, making pollinating insects essential. The honeybee and mason bee are the most effective insect pollinators of apples. Malus species hybridize freely, so identification can sometimes be difficult.

The fruit is a globose pome, varying in size from 1-4 cm diameter in most of the wild species, to 6 cm in M. sylvestris sieversii, 8 cm in M. sylvestris domestica, and even larger in certain cultivated orchard apples; among the largest-fruited cultivars (all of which originate in North America) are 'Wolf River' and 'Stark Jumbo' . The centre of the fruit contains five carpels arranged star-like, each containing one to two (rarely three) seeds.

Malus trilobata, a species from southwest Asia, has three- to seven- lobed leaves (superficially resembling a maple leaf) and with several structural differences in the fruit; it is often treated in a genus of its own, as Eriolobus trilobatus.

Growing conditions edit

Species edit

Uses edit

Many consider crabapples unpalatable, but others enjoy eating them raw or using them for cooking or juicing. Cultivars such as 'Whitney' have been independently domesticated for better fruit quality.

For Malus sylvestris domestica, see Apple. The fruit of the other species is not an important crop in most areas, being extremely sour and (in some species) woody, and is rarely eaten raw for this reason. However, crabapples are an excellent source of pectin, and their juice can be made into a ruby-coloured jelly with a full, spicy flavour[1]. A small percentage of crab apples in cider makes a more interesting flavour.

Crabapples are widely grown as ornamental trees, grown for their beautiful flowers or fruit, with numerous cultivars selected for these qualities and for resistance to disease.

Some crab apples are used as rootstocks for domestic apples to add beneficial characteristics. For example, Siberian crab rootstock is often used to give additional cold hardiness to the combined plant for orchards in cold northern areas.

They are also used as pollinators in apple orchards. Varieties of crab apple are selected to bloom contemporaneously with the apple variety in an orchard planting, and the crabs are planted every sixth or seventh tree, or limbs of a crab tree are grafted onto some of the apple trees. In emergencies a bucket or drum bouquet of crab apple flowering branches are placed near the beehives as orchard pollenizers. See also w:Fruit tree pollination.

Maintenance edit

Prune in early winter.

Propagation edit

Most cultivars are propagated by grafting or budding.

Harvesting edit

Pests and diseases edit


Powdery Mildew

  • Podosphaera leucotricha

Leaf Spots


  • Venturia inequalis

Fruit Rot

Brown Rots


  • Nectria galligena
  • Phoma mali
  • Physalospora obtusa

Heart Rot

Mushroom Root Rot


Bitter Pit (Calcium Deficiency)

Bud Blast Caused by late freezes


















w:list of Lepidoptera which feed on Malus.

Gallery edit

References edit

  • Germplasm Resources Information Network: Malus
  • Flora of China: Malus
  • Virginia Cooperative Extension - Disease resistant crabapples
  • Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food - Crabapple pollenizers for apples
  • Ann Fowler Rhoads and Timothy A. Block (2000). The Plants of Pennsylvania: An Illustrated Manual. Anna Anisko, illustrator. Morris Arboretum, University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 608–609. {{cite book}}: Cite has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors= (help)
  • Christopher Brickell and Judith D. Zuk (1997). The American Horticultural Society A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. DK Publishing. pp. 650–654. {{cite book}}: Cite has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors= (help)
  • Staff of the L. H. Bailey Hortorium (1976). Hortus Third: A Concise Dictionary of Plants Cultivated in the United States and Canada. Cornell University Press. pp. 699–701. {{cite book}}: Cite has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors= (help)
  • Pirone, Pascal P. (1978). Diseases & Pests of Ornamental Plants (Fifth Edition ed.). John Wiley & Sons, New York. pp. 358–359. {{cite book}}: |edition= has extra text (help); Cite has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors= (help)
  • Cranshaw, Whitney (2004). Garden Insects of North America: The Ultimate Guide to Backyard Bugs. Princeton University Press. pp. 605–606. {{cite book}}: Cite has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors= (help)
  • Pippa Greenwood, Andrew Halstead, A.R. Chase, Daniel Gilrein (2000). American Horticultural Society Pests & Diseases: The Complete Guide to Preventing, Identifying, and Treating Plant Problems (First Edition ed.). Dorling Kindersley (DK) Publishing, inc. pp. 99–100. {{cite book}}: |edition= has extra text (help); Cite has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors= (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  1. Rombauer, I. All About Canning & Preserving (The Joy of Cooking series). New York: Scribner. pp. p. 72. ISBN 0-7432-1502-8. {{cite book}}: |pages= has extra text (help); Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)