Crabapples are for the Birds! - Thomas deHaas


Crabapples attract birds in spring as well as fall and winter.

This tree was damaged in a late season snowstorm a week ago.

As I was sitting on my deck last evening, I noticed my neighbor’s crabapple was loaded with birds. Robins, Finches, Cardinals, Blue Birds, and ones I couldn’t identify. This was when the tree was in full flower. What were they finding?

After doing a little research, birds were feeding on the insects searching for nectar as well as feeding on nectar themselves. In the process, they were pollinating the flowers as well.

I’ll be very honest. I have not been a big fan of crabapples. In my mind, they look great for 2 weeks in flower, lose many leaves halfway through the summer due to apple scab,

then make a mess in the fall dropping fruit on the sidewalk. Boy was I wrong. What you think you know; Nature proves you wrong!

Looking it at a different way:

  • Crabapples put on a great flower show in the spring.
  • Not all crabapples get apple scab. Some are disease tolerant (Candy mint, Cardinal, Royal Raindrops) or disease resistant (Prairifire, SugarTyme)
  • Many have beautiful foliage in the summer (Cardinal-dark purple)
  • Fabulous fruit in a variety of colors (Adirondack-orange-red, Bob White – yellow, Candymint-red, Prarifire-red to purple, Sugar Tyme – red)
  • Shape: upright or oval or round or weeping.
  • They can make a nice street tree.

I was wrong! Like many of my favorite trees that provide year-round interest like Serviceberry, crabapples can provide the same.

So, Crabapples are for the Birds, and for us as well.


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