I Love Flowering Crabapples
When it comes to small flowering trees, is there anything better than the Crabapple (Malus sp.)? Of course not – I’m glad you agree. And my ‘Donald Wyman’ flowering crab is especially lovable this year. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this tree so full of blooms.
Crabapples are also excellent habitat plants. The flowers are popular with pollinators. Douglas Tallamy found in his research that when it comes to supporting insects, Crabapples ranked 6th among the woody genera he studied.
Birds feed on those insects, as well as on the fruit and buds. Orioles will eat nectar from the flowers.
One drawback of ‘Donald Wyman’, though, is that birds are not interested in its fruit. Generally, birds like Crabapples with smaller fruit. This is why I planted a second Crabapple, ‘Golden Raindrops’, in the back garden. ‘Golden Raindrops’ is one of the last Crabapples to bloom, so it has no flowers as yet.
But ‘Donald Wyman’ makes up for this defect with outstanding disease resistance, at least in my experience. We’ve had ours for over 10 years without ever spraying, and there has never been any sign of fungal or other diseases.
Another small tree that is flowering beautifully at the moment is our ‘Autumn Brilliance’ Serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora). Ours are multi-stem, so they look more like shrubs than trees.
Serviceberries are another genus of outstanding wildlife plants.
Our two Serviceberries are planted near the neighbor’s flowering Crabapple. As a reslut, we can enjoy the Serviceberries’ simple white flowers juxtaposed against the fluffy pink of the neighbor’s Malus, with both of them set off (this past weekend, at least) against a pure blue sky.
What flowering tree is making you happiest at the moment?
The first Crab Apple tree, Donald Wyman is stunning! That is my favourite! We had a lovely Crab Apple with pink blossoms in the front garden, but it gradually took over the whole (smallish) garden….but seeing these, I miss it….that is the trouble with reading garden blogs isn’t it…… enough with all these tempting spring photos!
There are some smaller Crabapples that take up much less space. Check out a variety called ‘Tina’.
My pink crabapple (blanking on the variety at the moment) has exploded in color this year. Truly spectacular! The birds don’t like my berries either 😦
The birds still get lots of benefits from this true even disregarding the fruit.
Really beautiful blooms, they shout spring!
Yes they do!
Crab apples are wonderful 4 season trees. Your comments on their value to birds are great. (I’m a big fan of Doug Tallamy!)
For a great guide to crab apples Google Michigan State University’s Crabapple selection chart which is an extension publication listing and comparing 85 cultivars. Height, flower color , fruit color and size, disease resistance and more are covered. It’s a such a useful bulletin!
Thank you for this reference! I’ve already spent a good deal of time pouring over it.
My neighbor’s pink dogwood – native — has been fabulous full of blossoms which seemed especially rosy this year. A delight!
I do like flowering dogwoods.
How gorgeous your crabapple is in full bloom! I’m glad to hear that the crabapples are ranked so highly in terms of benefit to wildlife, as we have two that we planted a couple years ago. They are still small, but going strong (I am glad of especially since they were end of the season clearance trees.) They are just now starting to bloom. I love the Serviceberries. We have a couple in our woods that are so pretty now.
I’m sure you’ll get a lot of pleasure out of those two young Crabapples.
Crabapples are indeed wonderful. But none of the spring trees make me happier than the redbuds. (Though I do like dogwoods very much, both pink and white.)
Redbuds are nice, too.
Your crabapple is a beautiful tree and I agree, so good for wildlife, along with your Amelanchier.. Springtime brings us such an explosion of blossom, such a wonderful time of year.
So beautiful! 🙂
Have just enjoyed our own Amelanchiors – and Prunus ‘Tai-haku’ – in the garden, now enjoying the wonderful apple blossom over the wall. When it comes to trees, ‘borrowed’ landscape can be amongst a garden’s chief joys! Your Donald Wyman is amazing. Thanks for sharing.
Completely agree that trees are wonderful in that they can be enjoyed even when they are not in your own garden.
Beautiful! Our crabs showing promise but not as of yet blooming here in Maine. We are enjoying Dirca palustris (leatherwood), small yellow flowers with a slight spicy fragrance. A lovely understory tree for the shade.
Hadn’t heard of Leatherwood – just looked it up and I see that it grows in Illinois. Sounds like a good option for a shady area.
I want a crabapple too. I was looking at them at the nursery this spring. I didn’t get one…yet. I love my silverbell. It has sweet pinkish blooms. Rosy Ridge is the cultivar. It is only in our garden one year.
Silverbell is also a lovely small tree.
Our crabapple is not blooming yet so the forsythia is taking center stage right now. 🙂
Forsythia in bloom does grab the attention.
I have two old snowdrift crabapples that will bloom this week. They are hanging in there but their days are numbered. I’ll post pictures when they open.
Looking forward to it.
Donald is a beauty! I think that’s the first time I’ve ever used those two nouns in the same sentence:) I agree–I love flowering crabapples. I don’t know the names of any of mine, because they were planted before we moved here, but we have a white one that always does well, too. And I’m not surprised by the findings of its benefits to wildlife. The bees were buzzing around its blossoms, and the birds love it all year round. My pinks and reds didn’t bloom as well this year, though; I think/hope they were nipped by a cold snap just as they were budding out.
Maybe I should refer to this variety as ‘D. Wyman’. I like the white crabs best.
Your yard is awash in beauty! I, too, love flowering crabapple trees,
What’s not to love?
You might be interested in the new UK introduction Malus x hybrida ‘Crimson Cascade’ that is being launched at Chelsea
I have a crabapple that’s been blooming for oh, the last two weeks maybe, it’s beautiful too. I don’t know what variety it is, got it from the Arbor Day Society shortly after I moved in 17 years ago. The squirrels seem to eat most of its tiny fruits. Oh well. My redbud is looking pretty gorgeous now too. The serviceberry is beautiful.
My mother used to make jelly from the crabapple tree at my parents’ house. Serviceberries and redbuds are both beautiful.
I have the same Serviceberry cultivar (Amelanchier x grandiflora) here in the Pacific Northwest. Our Spring is a bit colder than usual, so it just finished blooming (a few white blossoms left). The parent of the cross, Amelanchier alnifolia, is native to the PNW. It’s ranges south all the way to northern California a north to British Columbia.
Another great northwest native is Ribies sanguineum, the red flowering current, also blooming now in my garden. I have both the native and King Alfred Alfred VII. The native ribies was “discovered” in 1793 by Archibald Menzies (who traveled with Captain George Vancouver’s expeditions to explore the Pacific Northwest’s coastal regions), then made its way back across the Atlantic and decades later as Alfred VII !!!! It’s a great story, check it out:
Oops, make that King Edward VII. ; – (
Thanks for the link! I didn’t know that one of the parents of A. x grandiflora was native to the PNW.
Crabapples are gorgeous, you’re right. We have a particularly blowsy, over-the-top cherry tree doing its thing at the moment, but my favourite has to be apple blossom. White, tinged with pink and a lovely scent. Oh, and our lilac is almost in bloom…
I’d like to have an apple tree if only we had time to deal with the fruit. Judy had a sour cherry in her garden when she was growing up, her mother always made lots of cherry pies.
How lovely! None of my trees are in flower quite yet, but they are close – the one that has me the most excited is the nectarine. I’ve got my fingers crossed that we’ll actually be able to taste one this year.
Nectarines – yum! Didn’t know you could grow them there, though they do grow fairly well in SW Michigan.
Your blossom is beautiful! We also have some lovely blossom in the countryside all around us at the moment and the smell is heavenly on dog walks! I think we have what you call Serviceberry too, as well as crab apples and various types of wild cherry.
I just planted a North American wild cherry, Prunus virginiana. The Serviceberry is Amelanchier, we also call it Juneberry and Shadberry.
Oh yes, Amelanchier. It is called ‘Rock Pear’ here, must look that up how it got that name.
Your crab apple tree is beautiful, just think how many fruits you will have brightening the place up in autumn. My self sown one hasn’t had much blossom this year, it seems to excell every three years.xxx
Ours seems to have a cycle of heavier and lighter bloom ever other year.
Spring would be very different without flowering crabs, which are our true native apple.
Our serviceberries, which we call shadbush, have just started blooming.
Right, they bloom when the shad run. We don’t have any shad round here, unfortunately.
Gorgeous. Great to know crabapples are so good at supporting insects.
Beautiful and useful.
No trees blooming in my garden at the moment.
We’re sort of in a lull between the crabapple and the redbuds (which bloomed this year for about 3 weeks from late March to mid April) and the summer flowering trees (crape myrtle, vitex).
My neighbor’s dogwood is just finishing up its bloom. It was really pretty this year. And I drove by a mature tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) in full bloom today that was just magnificent.
I have never seen a tulip tree in bloom, I must remedy that.
I love Crabapples, too. The scent is intoxicating, and the blooms are swoon-worthy. You are lucky to have a Serviceberry–that’s on my wish list someday–maybe not in my current garden because I don’t have a good place for it, but someday. I didn’t realize Tallamy’s research found Crabapples so beneficial, but I’m not surprised–they always have so many pollinators and birds partying in them this time of year!
I’m surprised to hear you say you don’t have a place for Serviceberry – they tolerate shade – or is it just a question of space?
Now you make me wish I’d purchased a crab apple. During the winter I looked hard at crab apples, but didn’t buy one. I have a limited amount of full sun. Your crab apple is terrific. There is definitely some heavy crab apple envy going on here. The Serviceberry is lovely as well.
My other Crabapple, ‘Golden Raindrops’, will tolerate light shade. The Serviceberry will also tolerate shade.
Oh, that last picture breathes spring. I share your love of flowering crabapples. It always makes me smile to see them dotting the landscape, the last vestiges of long forgotten gardens, dutifully blooming on year after year.
They are always a pleasure to have around.
My goodness, such beauty makes me feel happy and faint! Great post!
I totally agree about crab apples; they have the prettiest blossom. The birds here aren’t very keen on their fruit though so they often stay on the tree until the following spring.
I think the attitude of the birds depends in part on the size of the fruit.
That’s an interesting thought.
Lovely to be able to enjoy your crab apple blossom now mine is over. They are the best! Great borrowed backdrop for the serviceberry picture too.
Yes, isn’t it? Sadly the neighbors’ pink crab is dying. Not sure how much longer it will last.
The only trees blooming here now are the maples. But before too long, our wild apples will transform our little property into a wonderland.
Something to look forward to!
We have a large Goat Willow, Salix Caprea, which for 363 days of the year is nothing special But in spring, on just a couple of warm, sunny days, the tree releases countless tiny white fluffy seeds en masse. They are released in such profusion it can honestly look as though it is snowing heavily, it’s an amazing thing to be in the centre of a swirling mass of white fully seed coming off the tree, but it’s just for a couple of days only.
The Salix caprea sounds amazing.
I have a pink crabapple as well as a white blossomed crabapple tree. The pink is in full bloom, the white one is just opening. I purchased both as small sticks from the National Arbor Day Foundation in 2004. They are magnificent trees now.
Isn’t it amazing how that can happen?