There are so many fruits on our  ‘Donald Wyman’ Crabapple that the branches are bending under the weight.

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Some crabapple varieties bear only in alternate years. That is not so of ‘Donald Wyman’, but this variety definitely does seem to have alternating years of heavy and relatively light flowering, followed by corresponding degrees of fruitfulness.

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This spring the crabapple flowers were very profuse, and so the heavy crop is not a surprise. The crabapples are edible, but not especially tasty.  My parents had a crabapple in their garden, and some years my mother would make crabapple jelly. I remember the jelly as fairly bland.

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My fruit from my parents’ tree was probably bigger than ‘Donald Wyman’s’, which is about a half inch in diameter. Unlike the Currants, Viburnum, Elderberry, and Dogwood fruit in the Back Garden, these crabapples hang on until late in winter. Eventually they are eaten, I suspect mostly by Starlings and Squirrels. I think most songbirds prefer slightly smaller fruits.

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The fruit is certainly ornamental, especially when it hangs in such profusion. It’s an odd thing because the ‘Golden Raindrops’ crabapple in the Back Garden had no flowers or fruit at all this year, which was a disappointment.

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No matter who eats the fruit, Crabapples are excellent trees for wildlife. The flowers are highly attractive to pollinators, and many songbirds eat the buds and blooms, as well as the insects buzzing around them.

How are the crabapples looking in your neck of the woods?

37 Comments on “A Bumper Crop of Crabapples

  1. The crabapple in my backyard, which was here (central Indiana) when I purchased the place, drops 90% of its leaves by mid-August. Each spring the blossoms are full and beautiful and the tree leafs out quite nicely. Every year it produces a lot of crabapples. But, beginning in June, the leaves turn brown and fall. I’ve lived here 20 years and this has happened 19 times. Last year, however, the leaves stayed on until October and then fell in a two week timeframe with all the other trees in my yard. I was hoping that would happen again this year but alas, it is almost bare already.

    • Do they first turn yellow with black spots? My hawthorn (same family as the crabapple) did that for a few years and by July was devoid of leaves and of course no berries either. I also have a crabapple which wasn’t dropping leaves but didn’t have a lot of fruit either. I finally called in a tree company who diagnosed cedar hawthorn rust. My hawthorn and my crabapple both now get treated 3 times in the spring every year and they are now spectacular! Loads of spring flowers and berries. I’m in Chicago.

      • I’ve been pretty lucky, no foliar diseases on our crabs so far. They are supposed to be disease-resistant varieties.

    • Sounds like some kind of fungal infection, maybe? I think they tend to be a problem with crabapples and apples as well. Some of the new varieties have better resistance.

  2. My little baby crabapple tree is average this year. It looks ok but I have never seen an animal or a bird eat any of the apples. They may be too large. I wonder about that. The rabbits ate one side of the bark off this tree the first year. I had to cage it. It has since scabbed over and I hope that it continues to grow stronger every year.

  3. I just love crabapple trees, as you say they are fantastic for wildlife. Yours is a beauty indeed. I once bit into a crabapple and have never done since!xxx

  4. The crabapple trees next door look just like the other crabapple trees I have known: scrawny, bedraggled, woebegone. I haven’t seen birds eat crabapples except in late winter when they’re desperate. I have, however, seen some beautiful autumn colors on the crabapples — like yours. Your springtime crabapple was gorgeous!

  5. I don’t remember ever seeing a crabapple tree here, but it occurred to me that there’s a Crabapple Creek north of Fredericksburg. That suggested the tree might be around. Sure enough, here’s what the nice folks at Texas A&M say about the prairie crabapple:

    “Prairie crabapple grows on limestone soils in the Edwards Plateau in central Texas, forming thickets from underground rhizomes on stream banks and canyons. The buds are a glowing pink, opening in April to May to sweet, fragrant soft-pink flowers that fade to pure white. The fruit are little green to greenish-yellow crabapples that mature in early fall. They are so tart as to be inedible (to humans), but are sometimes made into jellies.”

    That certainly sounds like your description. I don’t know how the crop fared this year, but I’ll know where to look for the blooming trees next year.

  6. Since I planted the crabapple allée I’ve been making crabapple jelly. Easy to make and my husband loves it with chicken or any other white meat. Interesting but not surprising I suppose that different varieties of trees make jelly that is more or less tasty. Our trees are mostly ‘Dolgo’ and they are also heavy with fruit this year.

  7. None of my trees fruited this year (except for one lone apple on the Granny Smith) for some strange reason but he crabapple tree down the street is similarly loaded. Still scratching my head over that one as we always get at least a basket or two of plums.

  8. Sadly, my favorite crab (and the deer favorite, too) was split open in the most ferocious thunderstorm of the summer. It was planted sixty years ago, so nearing the end of its lifespan anyway, but… A third of its former self, it still fruited heavily; the fruits are about an inch long, worth harvesting for jelly, which a former neighbor used to do. It may be ‘Dolgo’.I

    Sorry to hear your ‘Golden Raindrops’ was a dud this year. I’ve been very interested in it or a similarly small-fruited variety, for the birds.

  9. We had a lovely crabapple tree that gradually took over the front garden & we had a continual stream of birds coming to eat the apples, which was, as you can imagine, was a mixed blessing! We don’t have a large front garden & eventually it had to go.

  10. I noticed the crabapples are thick this year, too, along with everything else. Great year for most plants here in the Midwest, especially those that like heat and moisture. I guess the birds and other wildlife will be well-fed this winter.

  11. Both mine are covered in fruit too this year. The red fruits well every year and the fruit remains until the spring. The yellow always loses its fruit almost immediately

  12. I’ve always wanted one of these but on 1/8 of an acre it’s hard to find a spot. I’m going to look again today! Thanks for the inspiration.

    • We’re somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4 of an acre – a bit larger than an average lot around here. Good luck! If a crabapple is too big, maybe an Aronia or Serviceberry?

  13. Crabapples are quite rare here. Almost all are (ornamental) flowering crabapples, even though some make small berry like fruit. (It is nearly impossible to find an arborist who knows how to prune them.) There happens to be a few very old fruiting crabapples on the farm. Their bloom resembles that of other fruiting apple trees. Some varieties make excellent jelly on their own. Others with mild flavor (that seem to be bland) are just grown for their pectin. They get added to fruits that lack pectin, such as peaches or apricots, to make jam. I am not sure what to think of ours. I think the flavor is pretty good, but I still add cinnamon. I often consider making jelly from ornamental varieties, but the fruit is too pretty to take. If I had a tree like yours, I probably would not take any of the fruit. There are plenty of other fruits to make jelly with.

    • Judy and I leave the fruit on the tree, the birds and squirrels will eat it eventually. I’ve had crabapples for years and I still don’t know to prune them.

      • Flowering crabapples are not easy to prune. Their growth gets so rampant sloppy. I prefer to prune them while they are dormant in winter, along with all the apple trees. Some of us prefer to prune them in summer, after the foliage has matured a bit, but early enough for resources to be redirected to remaining growth. Summer pruning compromises subsequent bloom slightly less than winter pruning. Every cultivar has its own distinct personality, so requires customized pruning. Some need more than others. Some don’t need much. (I have not yet met one that does not need much.) Unfortunately, the more they get pruned, the more they need pruning in the future.

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