Rick’s Native Plant of the Month | Sweet crabapple (Malus coronaria)

May 7, 2024

By Rick Bogusch

Bridge Gardens

Sweet crabapple is in bloom right now at Bridge Gardens. Its fragrant pink and white flowers are a spring delight, as is its broadly rounded, umbrella-like shape. Native to the Great Lakes region and the Ohio Valley, sweet crabapple has outlying populations as far away as Alabama, Kansas and Long Island. Often a large, bushy shrub, it can also become a medium-sized tree, up to 30 feet tall. Bark is reddish brown, vertically separated into narrow scales. Leaves are an inch long, oval and dull green with little or no fall color. The gorgeous blossoms of May and June become small, rounded, yellow-green fruits. 

Sweet crabapples are great for naturalizing in meadows and along woodland edges. They support a wide array of wildlife from insects to birds and small mammals. Though fruits are extremely sour, they can be used to make cider and jelly and its extremely hard wood can be fashioned into tool handles and small utensils. 

Two other small, native trees are also in bloom at the same time as sweet crabapple, namely redbud and flowering dogwood. Together, they make a stunning combination and showcase the beauty and landscape value of native plants.

Support the Peconic Land Trust
Peconic Land Trust needs your support to protect the working farms, natural lands, and heritage of Long Island.