Red Swan Crabapple – Malus 'Red Swan'

Red Swan Crabapple – Malus 'Red Swan'
A patented, graceful weeping crab reaching 10 feet with excellent disease resistance. [1]
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Red Swan Crabapple

Red Swan Crabapple – Malus 'Red Swan' [2]
‘Red Swan’ crabapple was discovered in 1968 and patented in 1989, being a controlled cross of seed parent Malus 'Molten Lava' with pollen parent 'Red Jade' x 'Lemoine'. The cultivar was tested at the famous Klehm Nursery at Barrington, (northern) Illinois, and found to have the following characteristics:

    • Graceful, small weeping form
    • Heavily textured, disease resistant, medium green lanceolate leaves with golden fall color
    • Bears abundant, bright red fruit 5/16 – 3/8" diameter
    • Its weeping leaves add to and overall pendulous character
    • Pendulous flower buds and blossoms add to its weeping habit
    • Coral-pink buds open suddenly to stark-white blossoms
    • Grows to ~10 feet at 15 years*

Compared to its parent, 'Red Jade,' red swan is averred more resistant to the five most common crabapple diseases; apple scab, cedar-apple rust, fire blight, frog-eye leaf spot and powdery mildew.  The patent goes on to claim "a new and unique flowering crabapple tree." [1]

* The specimen pictured here is 19 years old, and is growing about 25 miles south of where the field trials took place. It's less than 5 feet tall.

Red Swan Crabapple blossoms
Disease resistance should be your primary consideration. 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. There are numerous cultivars that are resistant or very tolerant (still susceptible but with little defoliation) so choose one based on its resistance.  [3]


  1. United States Patent # Plant 6974, August 8, 1989 (PDF)
  2. Red Swan Crabapple, Morton Arboretum acc. 74-90*2, photos: Bruce J. Marlin
  3. Morton Arboretum, Crabapples for the Home Landscape
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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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