The Crab Apple is an enduring tree that somehow manages to defy expectations season after season. With smaller, tarter fruits than their better-known full-size apple bearing counterparts, Crab Apples make up for their smaller stature with a large personality and spectacular show of colour.
Malus ‘Echtermeyer’ – Weeping Crab Apple, serves as a perfect example. Its smaller form is the perfect base for these pendulous branches that spread, the gently weeping fashion somehow seeming energetic and full of life. The crimson-red single blossom is followed by a small deep red-purple fruit. Set against the purple-black branch stems and punctuated with bronze-green leaves, the aesthetic is at once both contrasting and oddly calming. Grows to 2-3m.
MALUS ‘Echtermeyer’ stunning large specimen as seen in Clyde
In contrast, Malus Strathmore – Deep Pink Flowering Crabapple, is larger and more upright. It appears more formal without being stuffy. Maybe that’s because of the warming colours that remain for the majority of summer. Leaves are dense, ovate and have prominent veins. They are interspersed with collections of fragrant, bright pink flowers. The fruit is small, about the size of a cherry, and when it falls in Autumn the leaves begin a journey to vivid red and scarlet. Deciduous, it will grow to 3 x 1.5m.
Malus Ballerina might have the most attractive name of all the Crab Apples. It’s befitting, given the gorgeous filly blossoms resembling a ballerina’s tutu. The large, double blink spring blossoms really are a captivating sight. Deciduous and hardy, it will grow to 4 x 3m.
MALUS ‘Floribunda’ – Lakeside Estates, Queenstown – October
Finally, we present the Malus Floribunda. A Japanese Crab Apple, it has a more gentle appearance, the prolific pink-white flowers creating a cloud of blossom in spring. They have a star-like shape, which when observed for a distance, make the tree appear to bubble. Or maybe that’s the gentle transition from pink to white in the flowers. Whatever it is, it makes for a beautiful small tree that’s suited to any garden. As for the fruit it produces, that’s best left for the wildlife.