Pacific Crab Apple – Rosales Rosaceae Malus fusca


Identification & Description:
Pacific Crab Apple is a small tree or shrub that can reach heights of up to 35 feet. It is armed with sharp ‘spurs’ that are just shoots from the branches. The oval to lance shaped leaves are very similar to common backyard apple. The showy flowers are white to pink and fragrant. They grow in clusters off the sharp spur shoots. The ‘apples’ are small, less than an inch in length, with a color of green early in the season and becoming yellowish red in the fall. They are edible, but a bit tart. Pacific Crab Apple grows in moist soils at low elevations. Moist woodlands, swamps, stream banks and upper beaches are all typical places to find Pacific Crab Apple.

Wildlife uses:
Pacific Crab Apple is a very popular tree for wildlife. Deer and elk often eat the leaves and twigs. The fruit are eaten by many types of birds, small animals, and they are a favorite fall food of bear, which will tear the tree down to get at the tart little apples. The thick branches make excellent nesting and resting areas for birds.

Reclamation uses:
Pacific Crab Apple would do well in any moist area wetland type reclamation. They thrive in moist soils near water sources and the roots will help hold the soil to prevent erosion. For wildlife habitat, Pacific Crab Apple would be a great addition to any enhancement project due to its fruit which birds and small animals enjoy.

Backyard uses:
Any area suitable for a crab apple tree will work great for Pacific Crab Apple. The clusters of spring flowers make it an attractive flowering tree and the numbers of birds it will attract make it a great wildlife observation tree. Partial shade and some normal lawn watering are all it needs to be an added attraction to your yard.

Alternate, deciduous, lance- to egg-shaped, to 10 cm long, pointed at the end, toothed, with irregular lobes; turn red or yellow-orange in fall.

White to pink, showy, fragrant apple blossoms, about 2 cm across; 5-12 in flat-topped clusters on spur-shoots.

Green becoming yellow or reddish, small (10-15 mm long) egg-shaped apples; edible but a bit tart.

Moist woods, swamps, edges of standing and flowing water, upper beaches, often fringing estuaries; low to middle elevations the length of our region.