Prairie Crabapple – Malus ioensis

Prairie Crabapple – Malus ioensis
Height: 15 ft. Known for its showy and fragrant flowers, Prairie crab  has been cultivated since 1885.
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Prairie Crabapple

Prairie Crabapple is 42 years old [2]. Ioensis refers to the state of Iowa.

Prairie Crabapple is a deciduous tree with a rounded, spreading crown growing to 30 feet tall.  Leaves alternate or clustered, simple; elliptic, oblong, or oblong-ovate, 4-13 cm (1.5-5 in) long and 2-10 cm (0.8-4 in) wide; glabrous above, glabrous to densely white tomentose beneath; dark green and lustrous above, rounded or cuneate at base; acute, obtuse or rounded at apex; margins singly or doubly crenate-serrate, some leaves with deep lobes; petioles slender, white tomentose, becoming less so with age.

Flowers in clusters, pedicels pubescent, 2.5-4 cm (1-1.5 in) long, with 2-5 flowers; calyx 5-lobed, lanceolate-acuminate, densely white tomentose; petals 5, white or pink, obovate, base narrowed into a claw; styles 5, with dense white hairs; stamens numerous; flowers appear from April to June.

Fruits pomes, 2-4 cm (0.8-1.5 in) in diameter, globose, compressed at the ends, green-yellow, waxy or greasy to the touch; fruits mature September to October. [4]

Prairie Crabapple tolerates wet soil, rabbits, deer and pollution, but is not disease resistant. Grows best in full sun, and is most attractive when fed peat moss and compost. Distribution: Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas, east to Alabama, north to Minnesota. Rare. Habitat: moist soils along streams and woodland borders.

Prairie Crabapple blossoms

Crabapple disease resistance should be your primary consideration when choosing a variety. Many resistant cultivars are available and recommended in order to avoid the most common disease problems. Before making a selection, keep in mind that not all crabapples do well in every location. Disease intensity varies from region to region, and disease strength can vary from year to year. For instance, some crabapples will be more prone to disease susceptibility in areas with greater rainfall than in drier climates. Careful consideration of the following information will be helpful in choosing the right crabapple cultivar. There are four diseases that seriously affect crabapple:

Apple scab is one of the most serious diseases from an aesthetic standpoint, but usually not a serious threat to the health of the tree. It is a fungal disease, which develops in cool, wet springs. On susceptible crabapples, apple scab causes spotting of the leaves, premature defoliation, and unsightly spots on the fruit [3].


  1. Morton Arboretum, Crabapple: A Tree For All Seasons
  2. Prairie Crabapple, Morton Arboretum acc. 277-67*2, photos: Bruce J. Marlin
  3. Morton Arboretum, Crabapples for the Home Landscape
  4. Oklahoma Biological Survey, Malus ioensis (Wood.) Britt.
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Family Rosaceae – Rose Family; Fruit Trees
Containing Hawthorns, Apples, Pears, Cherries, Plums, Peach, Almond, Mountain-Ash and Whitebeam. Rosaceae is a large family of plants with about 3,000 species in ~100 genera. Crabapple and other fruit trees provide some of our most outstanding flowering ornamentals, as well as food for birds and other wildlife.
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