RSPB
Skip navigation
Print page

Crab apple

Plant

Malus sylvestris

Crab apples, which have attractive pink or white blossom in spring, make ideal trees for the garden, producing colourful fruits in autumn, much loved by birds. Malus sylvestris is native to the UK, but there are many exotic and hybrid species. 

Crab apples are hardy and grow in most soils, and do best in full sun. One of the best ornamental crabs is Malus 'John Downie', a spreading tree that grows up to 8 metres tall and has slightly elongated, red-flushed orange crab apples in the autumn.

Malus 'Red Sentinel' has clusters of cherry-sized red fruits. Purple-leaved varieties such as M. 'Royalty' and M. x purpurea 'Lemoinei' can be used to contrast with the greens of other trees in summer.

Animals that benefit

  • Birds will feed on the fruit, particularly robins, starlings, greenfinches and thrushes
  • The colourful flowers will attract bees in spring
  • The native crab apple can be home to over 90 insect species

Vital statistics

Flowers: Attractive pink or white blossom in spring
Fruits: Colourful apple-like fruits in autumn

Calendar

Seen in JanuarySeen in FebruarySeen in MarchSeen in AprilSeen in MaySeen in JuneSeen in JulySeen in AugustSeen in SeptemberSeen in OctoberSeen in NovemberSeen in December

Key to calendar

Insects