Curator: Mark Biercevicz
The Crabapple Collection of over 130 different kinds of mature crabapple trees is one of the largest in the Northeast. A special open house called the Bloom-Time Festival is held in May when the 200 crabapple specimens are in bloom. This collection was first established in 1952 when the Hort. Farm was purchased. The large trees along the main entrance road were the first specimens planted.
A crabapple is a small apple; not different from apple trees. They are edible. Early crabapples were selected for eating. Crabapples are also grafted like apples, not planted from seed. So different rootstocks produce different heights, sizes, and dwarfed varieties.
Here at the HRC, pruning practices are basically “let them be what they want to be.” There is no pruning except for maintenance pruning (diseased, dying, dead, and damaged wood; and rootsuckers). The majority of trees here are well over 25 years old, so this collection displays what mature trees look like.
This collection shows that it is a four season plant, with interesting characteristics all year round, and a wide variety of leaf colors, fruit colors, and fruit size. Homeowners can come here to see their characteristics and see its potential before they buy it.
The fruit on some trees are persistent, and make a great source of food for wildlife. Having a variety of crabapples whose fruit mature at different times is important to wildlife who need to eat the fruit at different times of the year.
Cedar apple rust is a fungi that can negatively impact crabapples and apples; which can result in yellow and orange leaf spots, and lesions on the fruit. The fungus overwinters in galls on alternate hosts Juniperus virginiana (whose common name is eastern redcedar), J. horizontalis, and J. scopulorum. In the spring, the fungi spores are liberated and can then attack crabapple trees. As with apples, new disease resistant cultivars are being developed.
Some crabapples planted here in the 1950’s are still sold today for human consumption (jams, jellies, etc.) The crabapple is a very popular ornamental tree in the north country.
Malus 'Golden Hornet'