Crab Apple (Malus sylvestris)

Crab Apple (Malus sylvestris) is a lovely tree with lots of white flowers in spring. In autumn it has green / red fruits which are great for wildlife.

  • Crab Apple Tree  -  Malus Sylvestris  -  Fruit And Leaves 1
  • Crab Apple Tree  -  Malus Sylvestris  -  Blossom 1
  • Crab Apple Tree  -  Malus Sylvestris  -  Leaves 1
  • Crab Apple Tree  -  Malus Sylvestris  -  Winter Stems And Buds 1

Useful info about Crab Apple trees

Latin NameMalus sylvestris
TypeDeciduous (loses its leaves in winter)
HeightCan grow up to 3 - 4 metres (10 - 15 feet)
SpreadThe branches can spread out to 2 - 3 metres (7 - 10 feet)
Soil Types PreferredChalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Locations SuitableBalconies, Gardens, Hedgerows, Patios
FlowersWhite blossom in Spring
FruitSmall, bitter fruit in late summer


Crab Apple is native to Europe from as far south as Spain, Italy and Greece to as far north as Scandinavia and Russia. Its scientific name (Malus sylvestris) means "forest apple".

Crab Apple trees were thought to be an important ancestor of the cultivated apples (Malus domestica) but these have now been shown to be primarily derived from the central Asian species Malus sieversii.

However, another recent DNA analysis showed that Malus sylvestris has contributed to the ancestry of Malus domestica.

The flowers are hermaphrodite and are pollinated by insects. Its leaves are food of the caterpillars of the Twin-spotted Sphinx and possibly the Hawthorn Moth.

It is not recommended to plant Crab Apple near other species of apple trees as it will cross-polinate, causing problems for any exiting apple crops.


Crab apples are too sour to eat raw, but they can be made into jams or even wine.

The Crab Apple is valued as a sweet-scented fuel.


Any uses for trees or tree extracts, whether edible or medicinal, have not been tried or tested by EFORESTS.

Please take caution and seek proper advice before attempting any recipes or medicinal extracts from any of the trees listed on our site.

Culture and Symbolism

Crab apples have had a long association with love and marriage.

Apparently, if you throw the apple pips into a fire while saying the name of your love, the love is true if the pips explode.

Apple wood was burned by the Celts during fertility rites and festivals.

Shakespeare makes reference to crab apples in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Love's Labour Lost.

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