Common Name: Oregon Crabapple: These apples are sour but edible
- Binomial Name: Malus fusca
- Soil Type: Keep Moist
- Sunlight: Full Sun
- Form/Growth: Slender, can be Bushy
- Plant Type: Small Tree
- Foliage: Deciduous
- Flowering: Yes
Also known as Pacific and Oregon Crabapple, the Western Crabapple has a long history of being valued; people indigenous to the Pacific Northwest appreciated the fruits and used the hardy wood to make tools and other implements. The bark was also used for a large variety of medicinal purposes. While these parts of the Crabapple are still used today, the small tree has become more popular as an ornamental plant and grown in parks and gardens.
This native is Oregon’s only native crabapple and can be distinguished from east coast crabapples by the egg to oblong-shaped fruit. The acidic and juicy fruit, called pomes, are tiny (10 mm long) and red and/or yellow. The pomes are edible to humans, though their particularly sour taste requires considerable sweetening when using them in jams and jellies.
The Western Crabapple flowers are clusters of small, fragrant, pink or white apple blossoms that appear in spring. The light to dark green leaves are often slightly curled, saw-toothed or lobed along the edges, and are 1.5 – 4 inches long. What appear to be thorns along the twigs are actually spurs that produce the flowers and fruit and create protection for small birds. This, along with the fruit and flowers, make this tree an ideal choice for attracting wildlife.
This Native Plant of the Month is brought to you by the City of Beaverton’s Landscape and Urban Forestry Department. Visit Clean Water Service’s Native Plant Finder webpage for interactive questions to help you find the right native plant to fit your needs!