Tennessee Smart Yards Native Plants

A comprehensive database of Tennessee native plants

Southern Crabapple, Southern Crab Apple

Southern Crabapple, Southern Crab Apple

Malus angustifolia (Pyrus angustifolia)

Full to part sun; medium to moderately dry moisture level; prefers rich fertile soil but tolerant of a variety of soils including sandy, sandy loam, and clay; strongly to slightly acid pH.

10-20 feet height by 8-15 foot spread; pink flowers, 1 – 1 ¼ inch diameter in spring; yellowish green fruits, ¾ inch diameter, in fall.

Growth Rate: Medium. Commonly suckers to form thickets.

Maintenance: Very susceptible to rust like most native crabapples. Also subject to fireblight, apple scab, canker, borers, scale and aphids as are most crabapples. Generally requires little pruning except to remove root suckers if desired.

Propagation: Easy from seed. Fall sowing of seeds is the easiest. Softwood and semi-hardwood cuttings may produce roots.

Native Region: Scattered statewide and concentrated in southern portion of the state

Profuse pink flowers make a beautiful, fragrant show in spring. Quite an attractive crabapple in the native setting. Fruit is very sour when raw and is occasionally used for jelly, preserves and cider. Best fruit production occurs in full sun. Need two trees for cross pollination.   All Malus species freely interbreed, both with wild species and cultivated hybrids, so not always possible to determine a wild crabapple’s identity. Keep a minimum distance of 500 feet from Redcedars to prevent spread of cedar apple rust. The species is rarely available in nurseries but cultivars are available.

Fruits eaten by whitetail deer, bobwhites, grouse, pheasants, rabbits, squirrels, opossums, raccoons, skunks, foxes and many small birds. Larval food for a variety of butterflies including White Admiral, Spring Azure and Striped Hairstreak. Special value to native bees.

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