Ornamental Crabs

Ornamental Crabs

Part of Ep. 402 Planting Beauty for Your Yard and Garden

Learn how to choose an ornamental crabapple tree.  Dr. Ed Hasselkus explains the importance of fruiting qualities, disease resistance, shape and size.

Premiere date: May 31, 1996

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
Choosing an ornamental crabapple when it's in full bloom is easy. they're all beautiful. But the flowers only last for a few days. You have to look beyond the flowers to pick the right one. We're at the UW-Madison Arboretum and with me is Dr. Ed Hasselkus. You said there are other things that we should be looking for in choosing an ornamental crabapple.

Ed:
Yes, this time of year, they all look wonderful in flower. But we should think beyond that. Fruiting qualities are very important: tiny fruits that are not a littering problem; fruits that are highly colored bright red, bright yellow and so on; fruits that are highly persistent so that they're colorful over long period of time in the landscape. And then, disease resistance is very important. In the humid, lake states, we are troubled, really, with apple scab. And louisa is resistant to that awful disease.

Shelley:
Tell me a little bit more about louisa. This is beautiful.

Ed:
We start out with wonderful, pale, rose-pink flowers which is really unique followed later with yellow, tiny fruits they're not highly persistent.

Shelley:
They're not going to be there long?

Ed:
No, but good at feeding the birds in the fall.

Shelley:
Which just adds to more interest, too, then? And then, in this case, this wonderful weeping habit of a sort of medium-small scale crabapple.

Ed:
Very graceful.
Shelley:
You were going to show me one that was smaller, too.

Ed:
Tina crabapple is the smallest scale of the ornamental crabapples really great for small-scale spaces like condominium gardens where people have a very small space to work with. A limited space. In this case, it's butt up on a standard to create a small-scale tree.

Shelley:
How big will it finally get, then?

Ed:
The crown will probably get about five feet tall something wider than that. And everything about it is fine textured: the branches, the leaves, the flowers and later on, the fruits. One of the things about white-flowered crabapples is that they always have red flower buds.

Shelley:
So, you get another season of interest, here.

Ed:
It's beautiful, even in bud.

Shelley:
Yes!

Ed:
And then, we actually can see a few fruits are remaining on this crabapple highly persistent, tiny fruits. Again, this is totally resistant to the apple scab.

Shelley:
So, we're not going to worry about losing leaves?

Ed:
Hopefully, not. There's also one that comes out with red leaves in the spring.

Shelley:
Let's look at prairifire next.

Ed:
You know, walking through here, I'm beginning to see why it's hard to pick just one tree. This one, however, is a lot bigger.
Shelley:
It's much larger than little tiny tina.

Ed:
It's sort of a normal-sized crabapple. Unique though, in its lively reddish-pink flowers.
Shelley:
Very striking.

Ed:
Then, always, along with reddish-pink flowers you have purple or bronze coloration in the leaves.

Shelley:
Those are beautiful...

Ed:
Brightest now but will diminish as the season progresses. And the fruits here, have all the desirable qualities: small size, highly colored, highly persistent in this case, sort of a reddish-purple color. And then, of great importance prairifire was selected specifically on the basis of its total resistance to apple scab.

Shelley:
So, all-in-all, a very good choice. Can we look at one more, Ed?
Ed:
Let's look at a bigger one with white flowers, donald wyman.

Shelley:
Wow! Now, Ed, this isn't going to fit into just anybody's yard! This is massive!

Ed:
Donald wyman, wider than tall, obviously. Wonderfully huge flowers.

Shelley:
Well, this is the kind of tree-- its whole shape invites you to lay in the shade on a summer day and look up at the blue sky through the branches. It's just heavenly.

Ed:
We'll install a bench under it!

Shelley:
Thank you, I'd appreciate it!

Ed:
Notice these wonderfully large flowers. Once again, with white flowers the buds start out red and ultimately pink before opening fully. Excellent fruiting qualities still present, brightly colored...

Shelley:
Very persistent?

Ed:
Indeed, they are-- still present when it comes into bloom. And fortunately, highly resistant to apple scab.

Shelley:
So, would you say donald wyman is one of your favorites?

Ed:
I think so, yes.

Shelley:
You and Donald Wyman, the person, rather than the tree, have something in common.

Ed:
We both received the prestigious Arthur Hoyt Scott medal from swarthmore college. This is quite a national honor. It recognizes our contributions to horticulture.

Shelley:
Wonderful! Congratulations!

Ed:
Thank you.

Shelley:
Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I'm will have a hard time picking just one tree.

Ed:
I do, too!

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