Crab apple

Crab Apple

©Philip Precey

Chaffinch in Crab Apple tree

©Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

Crab apple

Scientific name: Malus sylvestris
The Crab apple is familiar as a small tree that produces yellow-green, rounded fruit that is used for making jellies and wines. It can be found in woods and hedges, as well as in cultivated orchards.

Species information


Height: 7-10m

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


The Crab apple is a small tree of woodland edges and hedgerows; it is also frequently planted in commercial orchards. Its pinky-white flowers appear in May and ripen to small, green apples in late summer. This fruit can be used for making jellies and wines or roasted with meat, and, as a result, this tree has been cultivated for thousands of years. Like many of our trees, the Crab apple is important for local wildlife, including Blackbirds, thrushes, mice and voles who all eat the fruit.

How to identify

The Crab apple can be easily mistaken for other varieties of apple that have been planted or have escaped. It can be distinguished by its small, finely toothed, oval leaves, and small, yellow-green fruits. Orchard varieties tend to have larger fruits and pinker flowers.



Did you know?

The Crab apple is a close relative of the domestic apple, which is descended from a central Asian species. There are thousands of varieties of domestic apple, many of which have died out.

How people can help

Our native tree species provide important links in the food chain for many animals, as well as areas for shelter and nesting. The Wildlife Trusts recognise the importance of healthy habitats to support all kinds of species throughout the food chain, so look after many nature reserves for the benefit of wildlife. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from coppicing to craft-making, stockwatching to surveying.