Description & Overview

Royal Raindrops® Crabapple is a unique and beautiful tree that is sure to be a stunner in any landscape. By far, its standout feature is the deeply-lobed purple foliage that holds its color throughout summer. In early to mid-spring, showy bright pink fragrant flowers cover the tree, eventually giving way to ¼” reddish-purple fruit by late summer. Fruit is persistent and relished by birds. Royal Raindrops® will grow between 15 to 20 feet with a spread of 12 to 15 feet and a dense canopy. In fall, leaves turn a spectacular orange-red color, extending the season of interest.

Core Characteristics

Category: Tree

Wisconsin Native: No - Introduced

USDA Hardiness Zone: to zone 4

Mature Height: 15-20 feet

Mature Spread: 12-15 feet

Growth Rate: Slow

Growth Form: Upright, spreading

Light Requirements: Full Sun

Site Requirements: Average, well - drained

Flower: Pink - red, 5 - parted

Bloom Period: April, Early to mid – spring

Foliage: Purple, deeply - lobed

Fall Color: Bright orange - red

Urban Approved: Yes

Fruit Notes: ¼" red crabapples

Suggested Uses

This is an all-around fantastic tree that will grow well just about anywhere, even tolerating clay soils. Crabapples prefer full sun; anything less will subject the tree to stress and diseases, and will produce fewer flowers. It is tolerant of air pollution and drought (once established) and thrives in downtown and urban areas. It is a solid choice for use as a street tree with low mess and is a showy option for parks, boulevards, and industrial parks.

Royal Raindrops is an excellent accent tree for urban lots, residential landscapes, or foundation plantings (when planted far enough away from a home). Be sure to plant it near a window so you can enjoy both the wildlife that will come for the fruit, but also the spring display of flowers. The persistent red fruits look fantastic with a dusting of the year’s first snowfall.

Crabapples also make a great memorial tree with their beauty and four-season interest.

Use as part of a mixed screen, in front of taller evergreen trees to give a pop of color and texture.

Royal Raindrops Crabapple is a unique and beautiful tree that is sure to be a stunner in any landscape. By far, its standout feature is the deeply-lob…
Royal Raindrops Crabapple is a unique and beautiful tree that is sure to be a stunner in any landscape. By far, its standout feature is the deeply-lob…
Royal Raindrops Crabapple is a unique and beautiful tree that is sure to be a stunner in any landscape. By far, its standout feature is the deeply-lob…

Wildlife Value

The small, bright red fruits are readily eaten by Cedar Waxwings, Robins, Thrushes, Eastern Bluebirds, Cardinals, Tufted Titmice, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Gray Catbirds, Northern Mockingbirds, and House Finches.

The flowers are typically cross-pollinated by Honeybees, Long-horned bees, and other Long-tongued bees. Flowers are visited by Viceroy butterflies (Limenitis archippus), Red-spotted Purples (Limenitis arthemis astyanax), Eastern Tiger Swallowtails (Papilio glaucus), and Striped Hairstreaks (Satyrium liparops strigosum).

Insects that use crabapples (Malus spp.) as a host plant include the Unicorn Caterpillar (Schizaur unicornis), Apple Sphinx (Sphinx gordius), Wild Cherry Sphinx (Sphinx drupiferarum), Blinded Sphinx (Paonias excaecata), Large Lace-border Moth (Scopula limboundata), Speckled Green Fruitworm Moth (Orthosia hibisci), Harris’s Three-spot (Harrisimemna trisignata), White-lined Sphinx (Hyles lineata), Woolly Gray (Lycia ypsilon), Four-spotted Granite (Itame coortaria), Common Metarranthis Moth (Metarranthis hypochraria), Dowdy Pinion (Lithophane unimodal), Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia), Reversed Haploa moth (Haploa reversa), Saw-Wing (Euchlaena serrata), Scallop Moth (Cepphis armataria), Promethea moth (Callosamia promethea), Interrupted Dagger Moth (Acronicta interrupta), Many-dotted Appleworm Moth (Balsa malana), Apple Leaf Skeletonizer Moth (Choreutis pariana).

Two specialist bees that visit crabapples, and plants in the Rosaceae family include the Rose Miner bee (Andrena melanochroa) and the Cinquefoil Masked Bee (Hyaleus basalis).

Maintenance Tips

Light pruning might be needed to keep plants healthy. It’s always a good idea to talk with a certified arborist, but any light pruning should be done in late winter after the threat of extreme cold has passed.

Make sure you have a mulch ring around the base of the tree, this will help retain soil moisture and reduce stress upon the plant. Supplemental watering is needed during times of drought and extreme heat.

Royal Raindrops Crabapple is a unique and beautiful tree that is sure to be a stunner in any landscape. By far, its standout feature is the deeply-lob…
Royal Raindrops Crabapple is a unique and beautiful tree that is sure to be a stunner in any landscape. By far, its standout feature is the deeply-lob…

Pests/Problems

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

Deer and rabbits are known to nibble on flower buds, twigs, and bark. Crabapples typically do not perform well under or around Black Walnut trees.

Royal Raindrop® has excellent resistance to both scab and fire blight and is highly resistant to drought, heat, and pollution. Disease resistance is relative, and does not mean the tree is immune to disease problems in totality. Other minor issues that crabapples can have include powdery mildew, rusts, spider mites, aphids, Japanese beetles, borers, scale, and tent caterpillars. The best prevention is a healthy and happy tree, sited and watered properly.

Leaf Lore

Royal Raindrop® is from an open-pollinated seedling of Malus transitoria ‘Schmidtcutleaf’ and was patented on December 16, 2003.

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.”

Typically, sourer than an apple grown specifically for eating, such as Honeycrisp or Golden Delicious, crabapples can be made into jams, jellies, cider, and preserves.

Companion Plants

To create a bird-friendly garden include Silky Dogwood (Cornus amomum), Ironwood (Ostrya virginiana), Speckled Alder (Alnus incana var. rugosa), Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana), Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.), Showy Mountainash (Sorbus decora), American Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis), Serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.), Pin Cherry (Prunus pensylvanica), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), and Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium).

Royal Raindrops Crabapple is a unique and beautiful tree that is sure to be a stunner in any landscape. By far, its standout feature is the deeply-lob…
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Written by Beth DeLain