The Crab apple (also known as crabapple or crab) is one of several small trees of the Malus genus native to Northern Europe, which with Malus sieversii, is an ancestor of the many different varieties of the domesticated apple. Crab apples are well known for their rather sour and bitter fruit which are used to make delicious preserves, having high levels of pectin in the fruit to set the jelly. Many other varieties of crab apple trees are grown for their highly decorative spring blossom rather than their autumn fruit.
Each Crab tree may grow up to 9m in maturity, and live up to 100 years, and they grow with an irregular rounded shape and a wide spreading canopy. Their bark is greyish-brown and the trees can become quite gnarled and twisted in growth, especially in exposed locations. The twigs also often develop spines, and overall it is this 'gnarled' and 'crabbed' appearance which may have influenced its common name.
Top fruit trees are all supplied as bare root plants during the winter months (November - March).