The Japanese crabapple tree (Malus floribunda ) is a dense medium-tall tree with long ovate green leaves. They are part of the apple genus, Malus, and their fruit is botanically nearly identical. In the spring, the tree fills with flowers gradually changing from pink to white. The flowers are followed by yellow-reddish fruits, attractive to the birds. The fruit (crab apple) is often sour and does not taste like a traditional apple. As the name of the tree suggest, it originated in Japan. There are over 800 Malus cultivars which had been bred for flowers rather than fruits. Many of theses cultivars are derived from Malus floribunda (other parent species include M. sylvestris, M. baccata, M. spectabilis, and M. pumila. M. floribunda was introduced to Europe from Japan in 1862. Malus is the Latin name for apple; and the specific epithet means “abundant flowers”.
Common name: Japanese Crab Apple
Scientific Name (family and order): Malus floribunda Siebold ex van Houtte (Rosaceae, Rosales)
Species Origin: A hybrid of unknown origin introduced to the West from Japan.
New Jersey Status: USDA Introduced
Habit: A small tree, wider (20’ – 30’) than tall (15’ -20’).
Habitat: Zone 4 – 8.
Trunk/Stem: Bark purple-brown, flaking in thin plates with age.
Leaves: Deciduous, Simple, Alternate. Ellliptical, 4” long x 2” wide; tip sharply pointed (acuminate); dark green and smooth adaxial (above) and hairy when young below (abaxial). Leaf margin finely but irregularly serrated.
Flowers: Perfect. Five petals very profuse or in cluster mid spring. Each flower 1” across. Flowers have red buds which open to pink. Flowers showy and fragrant.
Fruits and seeds: Rounded, yellow pome, 3/4” diameter. One or more fruits clustered on long pedicels.