Description & Overview

There is nothing quite as beautiful as a crabapple tree in full flower. Emerald Spire Crabapple is a beautiful ornamental tree with a strong central leader and upright limbs, giving it a columnar shape, and making it a great option for narrow spaces. Dark green-purple foliage is accented with pink buds that open to light pink blossoms. In late summer, large red crabapples roughly 1″ in diameter decorate the tree. The fruit is not persistent and will drop by winter. Leaves turn a handsome yellow-to-yellow-orange color in fall.

This cultivar is hardy to at Zone 3, though there have been reports of it growing well in Manitoba, Canada which is Zone 2.

Core Characteristics

Category: Tree

Wisconsin Native: No - Introduced

USDA Hardiness Zone: to zone 2

Mature Height: 15-20 feet

Mature Spread: 4-6 feet

Growth Rate: Moderate

Growth Form: Narrow, upright, columnar

Light Requirements: Full Sun

Site Requirements: Average-moist, adaptable

Flower: Pink buds open to light pink flowers

Bloom Period: May-mid-spring

Foliage: Dark green-purple

Fall Color: Yellow to yellow-orange

Urban Approved: Yes

Fruit Notes: 1" to 1-1/8" red pomes that drop before winter

Suggested Uses

Emerald Spire Crabapple is tolerant and adaptable to many conditions, but they thrive in full sun in moist, well-drained soil. They are versatile and can be used in several ways.

With a clearance between one to three feet, Emerald Spire Crabapple makes a great screen when multiple trees are planted. The flowers, fruits, and fall colors are different from the typical green screen made up of Arborvitae. (though there is nothing wrong with that choice!) Emerald Spire is slightly narrower than Raspberry Spear, making it even better for small areas.

Emerald Spire tolerates a wide range of pH levels and is highly urban tolerant, withstanding drought, compacted soil, and poor drainage. For this reason, they make decent street trees and are often found on boulevards and in parking lots. With a small canopy, Emerald Spire has a concentrated fruit drop, reducing any time spent cleaning up. The same applies to leaves. Once they’ve turned color in fall, leaves are quick to drop. With a maximum height of 20′ Emerald Spire has ample clearance under power lines.

A narrow, columnar habit makes an excellent vertical accent in any garden, especially small ones, and can be used to anchor the corner of a home.

Crabapple trees make great cross-pollinators for fruiting apple trees provided they are planted within 50 feet of each other.

Wildlife Value

Birds will eat the flower buds and flowers. The crabapples on this particular cultivar are too big to be enjoyed by birds, and they are more ornamental than anything. The crabapples do make excellent snacks for hungry deer and squirrels.

Honey bees, bumble bees, sweat bees, mason bees, and solitary bees are insects that pollinate crabapples.

Maintenance Tips

Light pruning will help keep the trees healthy and correct any structural issues. Any pruning should be done in late winter when the tree is dormant. Remove dead, diseased, or broken branches at any time. Occasionally thinning the canopy will increase light getting to the center of the tree, helping promote flowering and fruit production.

Heavily cutting a crabapple should be avoided as this can cause water-sprout growth that not only looks funky but will ultimately fill in the center of the tree, causing more problems. Remove any suckers from the bottom of the trunk to divert energy toward the tree.

We invite you to check out the Arborist For Hire lookup at the Wisconsin Arborist Association website to find an ISA Certified Arborist near you.

Maintain a mulch ring around the tree to help retain soil moisture which will reduce any stress.

Pests/Problems

Black Walnut Tolerant: No
Deer Resistant: No
Rabbit Resistant: No

Crabapples do not grow well under Black Walnut or Butternut trees which contain juglone, a chemical harmful to some plants.

Deer will eat apples and young shoots and may rub their antlers on young trees. If you have deer in your area, we recommend protecting your tree with some form of fencing.

Crabapple trees are susceptible to many of the same diseases as those in the fruiting apple family. Many are cosmetic in nature and just a part of having a crabapple, while others can reduce flowering. Emerald Spire has excellent resistance to apple scab and fire blight. Cedar apple rust, a fungus, may be an issue if juniper trees are in the area and could be the alternate host.

Leaf Lore

The crabapple tree hails from the mountains of Central Asia-Kazakhstan to be specific. The Romans brought crabapples into Europe and eventually, they made their way to North America. Numerous cultivars exist today, with more than 600 varieties available, varying in form, flower color, disease resistance, etc. A crabapple for all!

The genus Malus is Latin for “apple.”

The origin of Emerald Spire is said to have ‘Selkirk’ as the male parent and was open-pollinated.

Crabapples must have fruit smaller than 2″, otherwise they are considered apples.

Typically much sourer than a typical apple like Honeycrisp or Golden Delicious, crabapples can be made into jams, jellies, cider, and preserves.

Companion Plants

If using Emerald Spire for screening, consider combining it with other trees such as:

  • DeGroot’s Spire (Thuja occidentalis ‘DeGroot’s Spire’)
  • Parkland Pillar Birch (Betula platyphylla ‘Jefpark’ PP25,468)
  • Bottlebrush Buckeye (Aesculus parviflora)
  • Adirondack Crabapple (Malus ‘Adirondack’)
  • Northern Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica)
  • Hick’s Yew (Taxus x media ‘Hicksii’)
  • Golden Glory Dogwood (Cornus mas ‘Golden Glory’)
  • Star Power Juniper (Juniperus x chinensis ‘J.N. Select Blue’)
  • Taylor Juniper (Juniperus virginiana ‘Taylor’)
  • Emerald Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Smaragd’)
  • Cypress Spruce (Picea abies ‘Cupressina’)
  • Hedge Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster lucidus)
There is nothing quite as beautiful as a crabapple tree in full flower. Emerald Spire Crabapple is a beautiful ornamental tree with a strong central l…
beth delain1 avatar

Written by Beth DeLain