Monday, 8 August 2011

Crab Apple Charmer

Malus sylvestris
 The native crab apple bears white flowers followed by yellow fruits flushed with red and was possibly taken from the woods and grown by cottage gardeners.  It was the most important ancestor of the cultivated apple, over 6,000 varieties having been bred (over two-thirds now extinct).  A few crab apples were found in an early Bronze Age coffin.  They can be turned into jelly and wine or roasted and served with meat.  In Ireland a yellow dye was extracted from the bark to colour wool.  Many beliefs stem from crab apples, for instance, if you throw pips into the fire whilst saying the name of your true love, and the pips explode, then the love is true.  Apple wood gives off a pleasant scent when burned - it is a good wood for cooking fires because it burns hot and slow without producing much flame.

Crab apples nectar and flowers support over 90 insect species, and this is in addition to the birds and mammals that eat the nutritious fruit.

Malus 'John Downie'
A few varieties of crab apple have been bred for ornament in the garden, the one I have is 'John Downie' it bears highly attractive gold flushed with red fruit and is the only ornamental one that can be used for jams, jellies and wine.  It looks superb in flower in spring.  The birds feed on the fruit and in spring it will pollinate most varieties of apple too.  You can't ask for much more than that.


  1. Love the bright colors of the John Downie apples! The lighter ones are almost mango-shaped. You noted it was ornamental, but do you use it for jams, etc?

  2. Bumble Lush - I have used it to make jam it comes out a pale pink colour.

  3. Yes in other years I have made crab apple jelly which comes out a pale pink colour

  4. When I first saw the green fruits, I thought they were green guavas, like the ones my parents grow. Do the Malus sylvestris turn as pretty as your John Downie?

    BTW, Elaine, though I've subscribed to your blog via Google Reader, it hasn't updated since June. Not sure why that is...

  5. I really hope things settle down in London tonight.

  6. A terrific plant for wildlife so it gets my thumbs up! Flighty xx

  7. Nikki - I know there is a problem with the google reader, I can't find out how to rectify it. It could be down to Blogger or I may have done something inadvertently. Sorry.

  8. It's okay, I try to drop by now and again because I know you've always got something interesting and educational if not just very pretty to look at :-)


By Way of Explanation ...

Hello The short blogging break I intended to re-charge my batteries has changed into a rather more extended one - longer than I anticipate...