Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Crab Apple Tree:

           Not sure how it got its name; it doesn’t resemble the pinchered crustation, nor does it exude the demeanor of the grumpy old lady I lived next door to as a wee child. Yet they are called Crabs.

           Their name doesn’t paint the right picture of what they do in the landscaping, it’s just the opposite, A crabby person bring a frown to one’s face; the red, pink or white flowers the tree produces in the spring bring smiles. To step on a crab by the ocean could send you hobbling back to the car in pain; to see a crab in full bloom from your car could distract you into the rear end of the car ahead of you. (so I guess pain could be associated with both in this case).

            Crab Trees come in many shapes and sizes. You’ve got short Dwarf Sergeant Crabs that only get to eight feet tall. Tall thin Baron Crabs that reach 20 feet in height, but only 5 to 6 feet in width. Some grow fat and flat, other are more rounded. Some have small apples, some produce larger ones. Some apples stay on throughout the winter as bird snacks; others drop off in the fall.

            They are beautiful trees, but they have a couple problem areas.

            Those of us who have had one knows of the jungle that seems to sprout up next to the trunk; those suckers that just never go away. This will be a yearly pruning job. Cut them off as deeply as you can; to leave a nub above the ground will encourage side growth off this bit of stem.
             Fungus is more of a plight for the reds and pinks; the white flowering crabs don’t seem to suffer as bad. I have found it wise to just spray the red and pinks before you see a problem; once it’s visible the damage is done, and you’re behind the eight ball the rest of the season.

            When buying one make sure you have the space for it. Look at the info tag, check the finished height and width. This little tree that fits in your shopping cart will scratch the dickens out of your siding when it becomes of age, if you plant it too close to the house.

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