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Malus Sylvestris Common Crab Apple

Malus Sylvestris Common Crab Apple, native ancestor of most cultivated apple varieties. Very showy white flowers followed by fruits used for jellies & jams.
Profuse white flowers of Malus Sylvestris Common Crab Apple
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Height Excluding Pot: 3.5-4m (11ft 5-13ft 1)

Trunk height: 2.2 m

Trunk girth: 12-14 cm

Pot size: 45 Litres

Plant ID: 5384 65

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Malus Sylvestris or Common Crab Apple also Wild Crab, is a small deciduous tree. It is native to the United Kingdom and Central Europe, and the ancestor of most our cultivated eating as well as ornamental apple varieties we have today. Treasured for its showy spring flowers and highly-decorative, crooked gnarled growth habit.

In May, the rounded, broad canopy of the tree is engulfed in small, white flowers that are pleasantly scented. The outer side of the petals is tinged with pink, creating a lovely effect as the blossoms unfold. The glossy, ovate, dark green leaves turn to yellow in the autumn, providing a complementing backdrop to the small, hard fruit. The crab apples themselves are globose, with greenish-yellow skin, sometimes flushed with red when completely ripe. This tree has a bushy habit, but with time, it will take on an irregular form, with twisted, gnarly branches, especially if grown in exposed locations.

Height and Spread of Malus Sylvestris
Maximum size this compact tree can achieve is 8 to 10 metres. However, since Common Crab Apple has a slow growth rate, the expected height after ten years is 3 to 4 metres. Ideally suited for small gardens.

How Hardy Is Malus Sylvestris
As one of our oldest natives, the Common Crab Apple is fully hardy in the United Kingdom. It can survive even if the temperatures drop to 20 degrees below zero, without needing protection from frost or harsh winds.

How To Use Malus Sylvestris
The compact size and attractive appearance make Wild Crab a perfect candidate for a specimen tree in small gardens. The profusion of sweet-scented blossoms offers spring interest, whereas the wide, spreading crown and its twisted branches add decorative value to the landscape throughout the year. The irregular, bushy growth habit of the tree makes it particularly suited for wildlife gardens as well.

The fruit of the Wild Crab is quite astringent and tart when raw. However, if the crab apples are left on the tree after the frosts, they will become a favourite with birds once they soften and their flavour significantly improves. Crab apples are edible and often use in preparation of jams (as they serve as a natural setting agent), to make crab apple jelly or wine. 

Self-fertile, this native fruit tree is pollinated by insects, so it will not need another cultivar nearby to produce a good crop of fruit. But, as these trees have a long flowering season they make an excellent pollination partner to various cultivated apple varieties.

How To Care For Malus Sylvestris
Undemanding and low-maintenance, Common Crab Apple is easy to grow and to care for. Routine removal of any damaged or dead growth will encourage a good performance in the garden. Plant this tree in full sun to partial shade, in any moderately fertile soil. As this cultivar does not tolerate wet or waterlogged conditions, make sure to provide proper drainage.

If you are looking for a specimen tree suited for small gardens, especially in wildlife themed ones, this cultivar is a great choice. Long-lived, Wild Crab can serve as an ornamental tree in the garden for generations to come.

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