The European Crab Apple is a tree that serves as an ancestor to cultivated apple trees. While it can be grown as a hedge, mature trees display gnarled branches with spines, resembling a crab-like appearance. These crab apples are valuable for pollinating cultivated apples, and their fruits can be used for making jellies and providing a natural source of pectin.
Malus sylvestris has a rounded shape and a spreading canopy, reaching a height of about 33 feet (10 meters). You can identify it by its distinctive appearance with gnarled and twisted twigs, as well as short rows of hairs on the edges of its bud scales. It produces glossy oval leaves with rounded teeth and brown pointed leaf buds. In spring, the tree blooms with sweetly scented blossoms that attract bees and other insects for pollination. These blossoms develop into small yellow-green apple-like fruits, sometimes tinged with red or white spots when ripe. The fruits are eaten by birds and mammals, which help disperse the seeds.