Crabapple Tree

Basic Information
Tree ID: 
Genus and species: 
This tree is a member of of the Malus genus, otherwise known as a crabapple tree. It is in the family Rosaceae, but the exact species of this tree is unknown especially since there are 35 unique species and 700 different varieties of this particular tree. . While the fruit of the crabapple may resemble a typical apple, the flavors are worlds apart! The crabapple fruit is very sour and bitter in taste leading to the common misconception that crabapples are actually dangerous to consume. Urban myths have it that the crabapple is poisonous, but this is not, in fact, true. Crabapples are perfectly safe to eat despite their terrible flavor, and despite containing small amounts of cyanide in their seeds (as regular apples do), they do not pose a threat to children or pets who might ingest the seeds. Crabapple trees overall are pleasent and relaxing trees which are great as backyard plants, however they can vary in size and be from 15 to 40ft tall at maturity.
Anthony Mercadante, Jason Yang, and Kodi Alvord
Collected Data
Tree shape: 
Round, Upright
Date of tree entry: 
7.75 m
Diameter at breast height: 
0.26 m

The bark of the crabapple tree is grey, with vertical cracks. It is somewhat scaly, almost to the point where pieces could flake off. When the tree experiences infection, it may ooze out golden-brown amber as a defense mechanism against pathogens. When the tree and immediate environment are healthy, lichens may develop on the bark of the tree. Clean air is a general prerequisite to for the growth of lichens, which are symbiotic formations of two organisms: a fungus and an algae. Because the algae in lichens photosynthesize as a means for procuring energy, they pose no damage to the structural integrity of the crabapple tree bark.
Twigs & branches
During the first months of observation the branches of the crabapple tree were bare and looked almost dead in appearance, which is normal for many flowering plants during winter months. In this way the tree is able to conserve stored energy and use that potential to create fruit in the summer. As the weather gets warmer the branches begin to be covered with various leaves as well as flowers. The branches extend out and upward from the trunk of the tree giving a round appearance. Without foliage the tree looks bare with just a few branches, but as the seasons progress the crabapple tree becomes dense and the branches themselves are hardly seen.
The leaves of the crabapple tree are vertically elongated with very minor/faint serration at the edges, simple structure, and alternating attachment to the stem. They are almost always green but change color in the autumn to colors ranging from pink to bright red.
Reproductive Structures
The crabapple tree is also an angiosperm, meaning it is classified as a flowering plant. The flowers of crabapple trees can be quite diverse and vary according to species. Flowers of the crab apple tend to be either pink, red, or white depending on the species. They have long, red stamens that produce a lot of pollen and perigynous (half-inferior) ovaries. They cannot self pollinate, and require bees and other insects to do the pollination for them.
The fruit of the crabapple tree is extremely similar to other apple trees and produces unique apples, which are often sour and bitter in taste. These fruits range in color from light green to ferrari red as the apple matures. The crabapple has the same basic structure of other apples, having both a pome body layout and seeds containing low concentrations of cyanide, in the form of cyanogenic glycosides. Although larger doses can be harmful to pets or humans, the seeds are often not ingested in high quantities, so it is extremely rare to see toxicity reports concerning apples. The crabapples however are smaller than other apples getting to be about as large as a lacrosse ball, about 2” in diameter. Typically the crabapple tree blooms, producing fruit, during the late summer months of August or September.
  • A Crabapple Tree in the Summer
  • A Crabapple Tree in the Fall
  • A Crabapple Tree in the Winter
  • A Crabapple Tree in the Spring
Natural range of distribution: 
Crabapples can often be found in forests, or on the edges of fields or prairies. Because they require the aid of pollinators for reproduction, they can often be found in areas with diverse pollinating species.
Origin, history, and uses: 

Crabapples are global and depending on the species, are native to North America, Europe, or Asia (clearly, they are from the Northern Hemisphere, not the Southern). Crabapple species such as M. sylvestris, from Europe, and M. sieversii, from Central Asia, were crossbred with the ancestor of the current cultivated apple M. domestica to result in the current apple that we eat today. It remains debated which varieties of wild crabapple primarily contributed to the current M. domestica - it used to be thought that the Asian one was the main contributor to the current genome, but this notion has been challenged, with arguments that multiple species contributed to the genome.

The crabapple tree often blooms in late summer, usually in August or September. At this time it produces its eponymous fruit. Because it is a deciduous tree, it loses its leaves and fruit in the winter.

“American Crabapple (Sweet Crabapple).” American Crabapple. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2016. <….

“Crab Apple Trees Native to North America.” Actforlibrariesorg. N.p., 2016. Web. 27 Apr. 2016. <>.

“Crabapple.” TreeHelp. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2016. <>.

“The Description of Leaves.” Leaf Description Glossary. University of Rochester, n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2016. <….

Mitchell, Peter. “Is Crab Apple Tree Fruit Dangerous?” LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 18 Dec. 2013. Web. 27 Apr. 2016. <….

Ostermiller, Stephen. “Crabapple.” Crabapple. Ostermiller, July 1997. Web. 27 Apr. 2016. <>

Media and Arts

A crabapple tree 

I often walk it right by 

Shame! I pay no mind.


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