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Malus sylvestris
  • RHS Plants for pollinators

crab apple

A small, rounded tree, about 9m tall, with mid-green leaves to 8cm long and clusters of pink-tinged white flowers to 5cm across in late spring, followed by yellow-green, sometimes red-flushed fruits 2-3cm across

Other common names
European apple
wild crab
Synonyms
Malus acerba
Pyrus acerba
see morePyrus malus

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Size
Ultimate height
8–12 metres
Time to ultimate height
20–50 years
Ultimate spread
4–8 metres
Growing conditions
Chalk
Clay
Loam
Sand
Moisture
Moist but well–drained
pH
Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Colour & scent
StemFlowerFoliageFruit
Spring Pink White Green
Summer Green
Autumn Green Gold Red Green Yellow
Winter
Position
  • Full sun
  • Partial shade
Aspect

North–facing or West–facing or South–facing or East–facing

Exposure
Exposed or Sheltered
Hardiness
H6
Botanical details
Family
Rosaceae
Native to the UK
Yes
Foliage
Deciduous
Habit
Bushy
Genus

Malus are small to medium-sized deciduous trees with showy flowers in spring and ornamental or edible fruit in autumn; some have good autumn foliage colour

Name status

Correct

Plant range
Europe, Turkey

How to grow

Cultivation

Grow in moderately fertile, moist but well-drained soil in full sun, will tolerate partial shade. Ideal specimen trees for small gardens

Propagation

Propagate by seed sown in a seedbed in autumn or by chip budding in late summer. Grafting can be carried out in midwinter

Suggested planting locations and garden types
  • Cottage and informal garden
  • Wildflower meadow
  • Wildlife gardens
  • Edible fruit
Pruning

Pruning group 1

Pests

May be susceptible to aphids, woolly aphid, fruit tree red spider mite and caterpillars

Diseases

May be susceptible to apple scab, honey fungus, apple canker, fireblight, blossom wilt and Powdery mildews

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