PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Whitney Crabapple (Malus spp.)

Crabapples are such an old-fashioned fruit, most people’s grandparents barely remember when eating them was a thing. Over the past many decades, the problem has been that crabapples are so beautiful they have been cultivated and bred into myriad flower colors, leaf colors, and for tiny decorative fruits that persist well into winter, and the whole idea of eating them has disappeared from our collective cultural consciousness.

Us and the Whitneys are here to change all that. Edible Crabapples are known for their punchy, intense apple flavor and distinct lack of sweetness which is what makes them so very very good for baking, saucing, and preserves. Whitney Crabapple is that, but with more sweetness, and it’s larger than you’d expect too. Eaten fresh, it is super crisp, tart but not too tart, and the flavor will make you swoon. The fruit is the size of a smallish regular apple, maybe 2 1/2 – 3 inches with a yellow/green skin and red blush, or vice-versa.

Whitney Crabapple is an heirloom variety developed around 1865 in Illinois by wild plant wrangler A.R. Whitney. Like all Crabapples, Whitney is self-fertile and will pollinate most other apples that need a pollinator. Basically it loves itself, it loves everybody else, and we all win. Ours are grafted onto semi-dwarf rootstock and can get 15 feet tall, but, as with most fruit trees, you’ll want to keep them shorter for easier harvesting. They like a 1/2 to full day of sun.