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Crabapple, Sargent Malus sargentii

Sargent Crabapple - Malus sargentii
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Sargent crabapple is an attractive compact landscape tree with abundant clusters of fragrant white flowers in the spring. The pink buds open into pure white blossoms followed by 1/3"-1/2 " berry-like fruits that turn bright red in early fall and persist on the tree into winter. Low zigzag, horizontal branching forms a dense spreading crown that exceeds the height with maturity. Routinely grown as a shrub or multi-stemmed tree, it can be pruned to a single trunk. The dark green summer leaves are smooth, and vary in shape without or with three lobes. Sargent crab prefers a sunny location with moist, well drained soil but will grow on sites with heavier and drier soils. The pea-sized fruit is a favorite of birds, and the dense foliage provides protective shelter.

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Zones 4 - 8 Zones 4 - 8
Hardiness Zones 4 - 8
The Sargent Crabapple can be expected to grow in the zones shown in color in the arborday.org zone map. View Map
Flowering Tree Flowering Tree
Type of tree
Flowering Trees
6' - 10' High 6' - 10' High
Mature Height
The Sargent Crabapple grows to be 6' - 10' feet in height.
6' - 12' Spread 6' - 12' Spread
Mature Spread
The Sargent Crabapple has a spread of about 6' - 12' at full maturity.
Slow Growth Slow Growth
Growth Rate
This tree grows at a slow growth rate. More about this.
Full Sun Full Sun
Sun
This crabapple does well in full sun.
Various Soils Various Soils
Soil

The Sargent crab grows in all textures of soils, alkaline to acidic, occasionally wet, and dry.

Rounded Shape Rounded Shape
Shape
This crabapple has rounded shape.
Attributes

The Sargent crab is an attractive, compact tree or shrub, easy to transplant and grow. The small size and dense, wide spreading crown makes it useful under utility lines if there is room for a spreading crown, confined yards or gardens, privacy screens and hedges, and on sloping ground. Its attributes for wildlife and dependable spring beauty add to its appeal for home landscaping. Fragrant, pure white flowers are borne in great profusion in the spring. The red berry-like fruit is a favorite of birds, so much so, they may strip the tree prematurely before winter. Sargent crabs are often used in bonsai. Our Sargent Crabapple seedlings are budded to whole root stock.

Description

The Sargent crab is the smallest and most shrublike of all the crabapples. It forms a rounded, dense crown with zigzag branches that become gnarled and sometimes thorny with age, spreading up to twice as wide as the tree is tall. Its bark is dark gray-brown. Routinely grown with multiple trunks, it can be trained to grow with a single trunk. The new leaves are light green with fine hairs, later turning darker green and becoming smooth. The sweetly fragrant white flowers are abundant and produced in attractive clusters in May. The bright red, pea-sized pomes hang on the tree in clusters. This tree prefers moist, acidic loam, but will grow on sites with heavier and drier soils. It can be propagated by grafting or budding, softwood cuttings taken in early summer, or by seed. Seed propagation can result in size variations. Reported to be slightly susceptible to fireblight, it is also said to be resistant to scab, leaf spot, and the attacks of Japanese beetles.

Wildlife Value

The wildlife value is very high. The pea-sized fruits make is easy for birds of many species to pluck and swallow. They are especially favored by cedar waxwings, robins, grosbeaks, and mockingbirds. Red-necked pheasant, cottontail rabbit, red fox, and black bear also enjoy the fruit. The tree's dense foliage has the added value of providing protective shelter.

History/Lore/Use

The name of this species comes from the man who introduced it from its native Japan in 1892, C.S. Sargent.

Moisture

The Sargent crab prefers moist, well drained soil, but will tolerate drier soils.

Leaves

The leaves are alternate, simple, oval, 2"-4" long, with fine serrations. They consist of two types: without any lobes and with three lobes. The new leaves are light green, later turning medium to dark green, and to yellow in the fall.

Flower Color

Pink buds open to fragrant, 5-petaled, white flowers with a golden stamen, approximately 3/4" in diameter. Sargent crab is an alternate bearer, blooming heavily only every other year.

Bloom Time

Spring

Fruit Description

The berry-like pomes are at first greenish yellow with a red cheek, later turning bright red, about 1/3"-1/2" in diameter, and hang on the tree in clusters persistent into winter.

Crabapples are self-fertile, which means they depend on insects such as bees to transfer pollen between flowers on the same tree, though they do not require another tree of the same kind to produce crabapples.

Did you know that crabapples will also pollinate apple trees? However, because bees tend to stay within the same flower color when foraging apple blossoms, try and match the flower color of the crabapple to the apple variety.