CRABAPPLE (local-wild) – typically 4–12 m (13–39 ft) tall at maturity, with a dense, twiggy crown. The leaves are 3–10 cm (1.2–3.9 in) long, alternate, simple, with a serrated margin. The flowers are borne in corymbs, and have five petals, which may be white, pink or red, and are perfect, with usually red stamens that produce copious pollen, and a half-inferior ovary; flowering occurs in the spring after 50–80 growing degree days (varying greatly according to subspecies and cultivar).
Apples require cross-pollination between individuals by insects (typically bees, which freely visit the flowers for both nectar and pollen); all are self-sterile, and (with the exception of a few specially developed cultivars) self-pollination is impossible, making pollinating insects essential. Several Malus species, including domestic apples, hybridize freely. They are used as food plants by the larvae of a large number of Lepidoptera species; see list of Lepidoptera that feed on Malus.
The fruit is a globose pome, varying in size from 1–4 cm (0.39–1.57 in) diameter in most of the wild species, to 6 cm (2.4 in) in M. sylvestris sieversii, 8 cm (3.1 in) in M. domestica, and even larger in certain cultivated orchard apples. The centre of the fruit contains five carpels arranged star-like, each containing one or two seeds.
Crabapples are popular as compact ornamental trees, providing blossom in Spring and colourful fruit in Autumn. The fruits often persist throughout Winter. Numerous hybrid cultivars have been selected, of which ‘Evereste’ and ‘Red Sentinel’ have gained The Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.
Crabapple fruit is not an important crop in most areas, being extremely sour and (in some species) woody, and is rarely eaten raw for this reason. In some southeast Asian cultures they are valued as a sour condiment, sometimes eaten with salt and chilli pepper, or shrimp paste.
Crabapples are an excellent source of pectin, and their juice can be made into a ruby-coloured preserve with a full, spicy flavour. A small percentage of crabapples in cider makes a more interesting flavour. As Old English Wergulu, the crab apple is one of the nine plants invoked in the pagan Anglo-Saxon Nine Herbs Charm, recorded in the 10th century.
Apple wood gives off a pleasant scent when burned, and smoke from an apple wood fire gives an excellent flavour to smoked foods.] It is easier to cut when green; dry apple wood is exceedingly difficult to carve by hand. It is a good wood for cooking fires because it burns hot and slow, without producing much flame.
(Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)