Edible Crab Apple Tree Varieties
Around 1,000 different known varieties of crab apple trees exist that vary in size, shape and color. Their small, edible fruit ranges in size and color from 1/4 inch to 2 inches and from bright red and purple to orange and yellow. Their blossoms appear in spring, typically in April or May, and appear as single, semidouble or double blooms. Crab apple trees also have showy fall foliage that ranges from orange and purple to red and yellow.
Malus 'Ralph Shay'
Crab apple ‘Ralph Shay’ (Malus 'Ralph Shay') is a medium-sized variety of crab apple tree that produces edible fruits. It grows 15 to 20 feet tall and 17 to 22 feet wide and has a rounded and wide spread. The single, white, spring-blooming flowers on ‘Ralph Shay’ are followed by the red 1 1/4-inch-wide fruit that persists into fall and winter and attracts birds to the garden. Fruit on ‘Ralph Shay’ crab apple trees is larger than most varieties and ideal for making crab apple jellies and preserves. The 3-inch-long, oval-shaped leaves are dark green. Crab apple ‘Ralph Shay’ grows best in full sun and nutrient-rich soil that is acidic, although it adapts to a wide range of soils. Plant ‘Ralph Shay’ in USDA zones 4 to 8.
Malus 'Camzam' Camelot
Crab apple ‘Camzam’ (Malus 'Camzam' Camelot) is a dwarf variety of crab apple tree that has a rounded form and good disease resistance. It grows 8 to 10 feet tall and 6 to 8 feet wide and produces 1 1/2–inch-wide, spring-blooming, fragrant white flowers that have a pink tinge surrounding each petal. The 3-inch-long dark green, thick and leathery leaves emerge in spring and are tinged with burgundy. Following the blooms are the ½-inch-wide burgundy red, edible fruit that matures into fall. Birds are attracted to the fruit. ‘Camzam’ grows best in full sun and well-drained, acidic soil. Plant in USDA zones 4 to 8.
Malus 'Ellen Gerhart'
Crab apple ‘Ellen Gerhart’ (Malus 'Ellen Gerhart') is a medium-sized variety of crab apple tree that has an upright, spreading form. It grows 15 to 20 feet tall and wide and produces showy, fragrant blooms that attract bees and birds to the garden. The single to semidouble pale pink flowers on ‘Ellen Gerhart’ are followed by the glossy red, 3/8-inch-wide fruit. According to Missouri Botanical Garden, ‘Ellen Gerhart’ fruits are noted for their distinct, conelike, rusty scar. The oval-shaped, 3-inch-long dark green leaves on 'Ellen Gerhart' develop a yellow and orange tinge in fall. ‘Ellen Gerhart’ grows best in full sun and acidic, well-drained soils. Plant in USDA zones 4 to 8.