Content Detail

Prairie crabapple was once commonly found throughout the Midwest prairies and savannas. Spectacular in bloom, deep pink flower buds open to white flowers. Their fruit is popular with a myriad of wildlife. Unfortunately, prairie crabapple is susceptible to many foliar diseases. This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.

  • Family (English) Rose
  • Family (botanic) Rosaceae
  • Planting site Residential and parks, Under utility lines
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Small tree (15-25 feet), Medium tree (25-40 feet)
  • Mature height 20-30 feet
  • Mature width 20-30 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Dry sites
  • Season of interest mid spring, late spring, early fall, mid fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Fragrant, Pink, White
  • Shape or form Round
  • Growth rate Moderate
  • Transplants well Yes
  • Wildlife Birds, Browsers, Insect pollinators
  • Has cultivars No

Native geographic location and habitat:

C-Value: 3. Native to the central United States from Minnesota to Texas. Commonly found in a variety of habitats.

Bark color and texture:

The bark is scaly and peeling, revealing the smooth inner bark. Stems often have short thorns.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Simple, alternate, dark green leaves without or with three lobes. Leaf margins are doubly toothed. If leaf diseases do not defoliate the tree during the growing season, fall color will be red.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Pink buds open up to clusters of fragrant white or whitish pink flowers.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

Fruits are yellow-green crabapples, about 1 inch in diameter.

Plant Care 

Crabapples are adaptable to most soil conditions but prefer full sun in moist, well-drained soil. Light pruning may be required to keep plants healthy or correct structural problems. Thinning the crown allows light into the center for better flowering. Remove dead, diseased, and crossing branches at any time.

List of pests, diseases, tolerances and resistance:

This species is very susceptible to cedar-apple rust.  Other problems include fire blight, canker, borers, and scale insects. This species has some resistance to apple scab.


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