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Flowering Crabapples: Trees for All Seasons

Whether it's the canopy of delicate white blossoms of the Newport plum, double scarlet blooms and scarlet fruit of Paul's scarlet hawthorn, or the striking pink blossoms of a redbud tree in early spring, flowering ornamental trees are a welcome addition to the landscape.


Flowering trees enhance the landscape by providing beauty with their colorful flowers, some of which are fragrant as well, and many produce fruit to provide food for wildlife. Generally they are smaller than traditional shade trees and are adaptable to many situations, even in smaller landscape settings.


Perhaps the favorite among the spring flowering trees is the crabapple. These lovely trees are available in such a range of sizes, growth habits, and flower and fruit colors that there is one to enhance just about any landscape.


Flowering crabapples in our region do have a drawback, however --susceptibility to a number of diseases, including fireblight. Fortunately, modern breeding has given us many varieties that show good resistance to disease problems. Although there is no one crabapple variety that is totally resistant to fireblight because new strains of the disease continue to show up, there are some good varieties that have a lower incidence of the disease.


Top Picks - Trees for All Seasons

Some varieties with good ornamental characteristics and fairly good fireblight resistance include:

  • 'Bob White' - This tree has a rounded, dense growth habit and produces cherry-colored buds that fade to white. The fruit is 1 to 2 inches in size and yellow to yellow-brown and persists for a long period. Minor fireblight has been observed on this variety.
  • 'Centurion' - This tree has upright growth when young that becomes rounded at maturity. It produces red flowers in bud that open to rose-red, followed by 1/2-inch glossy red fruit that persists. Good fireblight resistance has been observed.
  • 'Coralburst' - This dwarf variety has a compact, dense, rounded form and reaches only 10-12 feet tall at maturity. It produces coral pink buds that open to a rose color. Red fruit is 1/2 inch in size and somewhat persistent. Good fireblight resistance.
  • 'David' - A tree with vigorous growth habit and rounded when mature. It has pink to white flowers and an abundance of red fruit about 1/2 inch in size. Some fireblight has been observed.
  • 'Indian Summer' - This tree has a broad overall growth habit and nice color in fall. Flowers are rosy red and the 3/4-inch fruit is bright red. Fireblight is minimal.
  • 'Profusion' - A beautiful tree with purplish foliage that fades to bronze, with single, deep red flowers that fade to pink. Dark maroon, 1/2-inch fruit is very persistent.
  • 'Robinson' - This tree has an upright-spreading growth habit and single crimson flower buds that open with pink flowers. Fruit is dark red, about 1/2 inch in diameter and very abundant but can often be hidden by the foliage.
  • 'Zelkirk' - The growth habit is rounded with an abundance of deep pink flowers and glossy, red, 3/4-inch fruits. Some fireblight has been observed.


Plant a crabapple or two to add spring beauty and persistent fruit over the fall and winter, but be sure to shop around to find a variety that offers disease resistance as well as good looks. You'll add interest to your landscape in all seasons -- and migrating and overwintering birds may be appreciative of the food source as well!


Read more at the National Gardening Association