Crab Apple

©Philip Precey

Chaffinch in Crab Apple tree

©Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

Crab apple

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Scientific name: Malus sylvestris
The Crab apple is familiar as a small tree that produces yellow-green, rounded fruit that is used for making jellies and wines. It can be found in woods and hedges, as well as in cultivated orchards.

Top facts

Stats

Height: 7-10m

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

January to December

About

The Crab apple is a small tree of woodland edges and hedgerows; it is also frequently planted in commercial orchards. Its pinky-white flowers appear in May and ripen to small, green apples in late summer. This fruit can be used for making jellies and wines or roasted with meat, and, as a result, this tree has been cultivated for thousands of years. Like many of our trees, the Crab apple is important for local wildlife, including Blackbirds, thrushes, mice and voles who all eat the fruit.

What to look for

The Crab apple can be easily mistaken for other varieties of apple that have been planted or have escaped. It can be distinguished by its small, finely toothed, oval leaves, and small, yellow-green fruits. Orchard varieties tend to have larger fruits and pinker flowers.

Where to find

Widespread.

Did you know?

The Crab apple is a close relative of the domestic apple, which is descended from a central Asian species. There are thousands of varieties of domestic apple, many of which have died out.