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.