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Sargent CrabappleMalus sargentii

  • Sargent Crabapple - Malus sargentii
  • Sargent Crabapple - Malus sargentii
  • Sargent Crabapple - Malus sargentii
The Sargent crab is the smallest and most shrublike of all the crabapples. It forms a rounded, dense crown with zigzag branches that become gnarled and sometimes thorny with age, spreading up to twice as wide as the tree is tall. Its bark is dark gray-brown. Routinely grown with multiple trunks, it can be trained to grow with a single trunk. The new leaves are light green with fine hairs, later turning darker green and becoming smooth. The sweetly fragrant white flowers are abundant and produced in attractive clusters in May. The bright red, pea-sized pomes hang on the tree in clusters. This tree prefers moist, acidic loam, but will grow on sites with heavier and drier soils. It can be propagated by grafting or budding, softwood cuttings taken in early summer, or by seed. Seed propagation can result in size variations. Reported to be slightly susceptible to fireblight, it is also said to be resistant to scab, leaf spot, and the attacks of Japanese beetles.

Hardiness Zones

The sargent crabapple can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 4–8. View Map

Tree Type

Mature Size

The Sargent crabapple grows to a height of 6–10' and a spread of 6–12' at maturity.

Growth Speed Slow Growth Rate

This tree grows at a slow rate, with height increases of less than 12" per year.

Sun Preference

Full sun is the ideal condition for this tree, meaning it should get at least six hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Soil Preference

The Sargent crabapple grows in all textures of soil, alkaline to acidic. It prefers moist, well-drained soil but will tolerate drier conditions.

Attributes

This tree:
  • Produces fragrant clusters of snowy white blossoms in May. It is an alternate bearer, blooming heavily every other year.
  • Is easy to transplant and grow.
  • Can be grown as a multi-stemmed or single-trunk specimen.
  • Has a dense, wide-spreading crown with zigzagging branches.
  • Features simple, oval leaves that are 2–4" long with fine serrations. Some have lobes; some do not. They start out light green, turning medium to dark green and then yellow in the fall.
  • Is often used in bonsai.
  • Yields pea-sized fruit that starts out greenish-yellow and then turns bright red, hanging in clusters and persisting into winter.
  • Is self-fertile, meaning it depends on insects such as bees to transfer pollen between flowers on the same tree.
  • Can be used to pollinate apple trees. (However, because bees tend to stay within the same flower color when foraging apple blossoms, try to match the flower color of the crabapple to the apple variety.)
  • Grows in a rounded shape.

Wildlife Value

The pea-sized fruits make is easy for birds of many species to pluck and swallow. They are especially favored by cedar waxwings, robins, grosbeaks, and mockingbirds. Red-necked pheasant, cottontail rabbit, red fox, and black bear also enjoy the fruit. The tree's dense foliage has the added value of providing protective shelter.

History/Lore

The name of this species comes from the man who introduced it from its native Japan in 1892, C.S. Sargent.