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Malus sargentii

Malus sargentii

This crab apple has a glorious autumnal display of small red berries. The crop of berries this year is huge, one of the largest we've seen in recent years. Make sure you don't miss this wonderful sight on your visit - you'll find this Malus sargentii at the bottom of our Main Borders on the right hand side.

Vital statistics

Common name
Sargent's apple, crab apple
Height & spread
4m (12ft) x 5m (15ft)
Spreading, deciduous tree
Moderately fertile, moist but well-drained
Full sun or partial shade
Fully hardy


Crab apples are ideal trees for small gardens. The fruit flavour improves considerably if the fruit is not harvested until it has been frosted. The fruit is quite variable in size, about 2-4cm (0.75-1.5in) in diameter, and quality. While usually harsh and acid, some cultivars are quite sweet and can be eaten raw.

The fruit is rich in pectin and can be used in helping other fruits to set when making jam. Pectin is also said to protect the body against radiation.

It is one of the parents of the cultivated apple and is often used as a rootstock.

Malus is a genus of about 35 species of deciduous trees and shrubs found in woodlands and thickets throughout northern temperate regions. The leaves are alternate, oval to ovate or elliptic, mostly toothed. In spring they produce fragrant flowers typically 2-5cm (0.75-2in) across, usually shallowly cup-shaped, singly or in umbel-like corymbs. The flowers are followed by edible fruits, although some need cooking to be edible.

The name Malus is from the Greek melon, and is applied to tree fruits with a fleshy exterior.

Malus sargentii

Malus sargentii is a spreading shrub or tree with ovate or 3-lobed, dark green leaves, to 8cm (3in) long. In late spring it bears broad-petalled, saucer-shaped, pure white flowers profusely borne in umbels all over the bush. These are followed by dark red fruits up to 8mm (about 0.25in) across in late summer and autumn.

It is a native of Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, and perfectly hardy in this country.

It was introduced from Japan in 1892 and named as a new species although it is closely related to M. toringo (syn. M. sieboldii), a similar but more tree-like species which has pale pink flowers and smaller fruits.



  • Sow seed in a seedbed in autumn as soon as it is ripe, and it should germinate in late winter, though cultivars will not come true to type.
  • Malus can be budded in late summer, or grafted in mid-winter.


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