Japanese Flowering Crabapple - Malus floribunda
Family Rosaceae - Rose Family; Fruit Trees

Also commonly called showy crabapple. Height: 30 feet / USDA zones 4 through 7
Crabapples thrive in full sun and grow best in well drained, slightly acidic soils (pH 5.5-6.5); however, they will grow well in many soil types. Most crabapple selections tolerate the (used to be) cold winters and hot summers prevalent in the American Midwest. There are about 55 different species in the genus Malus, and there are innumerable cultivars available in the landscape trade.

The Morton Arboretum's Crabapple Collection was started in 1924. Part of this collection on the West Side participated in the National Crabapple Evaluation Program which evaluated new and disease-resistant varieties. As a result of the multi-year evaluation and additions, it has transformed into the West Side Malus collection which now contains 60 different kinds and over 140 specimens with highly desirable qualities. 

I consider the crabapple collection at The Morton to be one of the most beautiful, colorful places on Earth during springtime. If you live anywhere near Chicago, you absolutely must see these trees in bloom. Yes, the cherry trees around the tidal basin in Washington D.C. are magnificent, but they are of only one variety and color (not to look a gift horse in the mouth), they can't hold a candle to the riot of red, pink, purple, white and seemingly every shade in between. It's good for the soul.

I would advise to consult the arboretum on blooming progress before planning your trip. With our recent warmest-ever March (2012), many trees bloomed 3-4 weeks earlier than usual. Of course, the crabs don't all bloom at the same time, but there is enough overlap that if timed correctly, you can see 80% of the trees near their peak at one visit. --and don't forget the flowering trees section on the west side!

Japanese Flowering Crabapple in bloom
Japanese Flowering Crabapple

Japanese Flowering Crabapple in summer
Japanese Flowering Crabapple requires very little pruning but any that is needed should be completed before late spring, to ensure dormant flower buds are not removed. Trees used as street trees should be trained to develop a central trunk and should be occasionally thinned to eliminate water sprouts or crossed-branches, and to open up the crown. This allows for better air circulation through the crown and helps reduce disease.

Crabapples are useful as median trees where the fruit will fall away from pedestrians. Placed in the lawn area as an accent so they receive occasional irrigation, Crabapple will give you years of wonderful flowers and showy fruit. It is best to locate them away from a patio or other hard surface so the fruits will not fall and cause a mess. Set it back just far enough so the crown will not overhang the walk, but close enough so the flowers and fruit can be enjoyed. Japanese Flowering Crabapple grows in moist, well-drained, acid soil in full sun locations for best flowering. They are not recommended for sandy soil due to their inability to tolerate drought, but any other soil is suitable, including clay.

References
  1. Morton Arboretum, Crabapple: A Tree For All Seasons
  2. Japanese Flowering Crabapple, Morton Arboretum acc. 137-64-1 & 2, photos © Bruce Marlin
  3. Morton Arboretum, Crabapples for the Home Landscape
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Family Rosaceae - Rose Family; Fruit Trees Many of these plants are of vital economic importance. The Rosaceae contain a great number of fruit trees of temperate regions, the fruit of which contain vitamins, acids, and sugars and can be used both raw and for making preserves, jam, jelly, candy, wine, brandy, cider and other beverages.
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