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 is often seen in hedgerows. It makes a nice specimen tree for a garden though and is a good pollinator for other apples.
Crab Apple can live to up to 100 years. Mature trees grow to around 10m in height. They grow throughout Europe.
The leaves are rounded, glossy and with toothed edges.
Their bark is grey / purplish brown with flecks and the trees can become quite twisted.
The sweetly scented blossom is pollinated by bees and other insects.
The fruit is eaten by birds such as blackbirds, thrushes and crows. Mice, foxes and badgers also eat the fruit.
Crab apples are too sour to eat raw, but they can be made into jams or even wine.
The is valued as a sweet-scented fuel.
Mythology 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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