En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
1 rating

Wednesday - April 01, 2009

From: Dothan, AL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Apple trees for Dothan, AL
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I would like to plant early, mid and late season apple trees in my area Dothan Al.What types can I plant that will help pollinate each other? I have plenty of room and planting some crabapples trees would be fine with me. I can still remember the jelly my grandmother made from the crabapple trees.


We had an interesting time researching the answer to your question. We did, indeed, find two crabapples, also sometimes referred to as "wild" apples, native to Alabama. They are Malus angustifolia (southern crabapple) and Malus coronaria (sweet crabapple). Beyond that, it appears that all varieties of apple, genus Malus and family Rosaceae, are descended from areas possibly in Turkey or Russia, but not native to North America. As you know, since you have visited with us before, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the care and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. This puts the Malus domestica out of the range of our expertise. To make it even more complicated, apple trees now are almost all the product of grafting, putting the cutting of one species onto the root of another, producing yet another species. We also learned that all apple varieties should be considered self-incompatible, that is, they cannot pollinate themselves or any tree of the same apple variety. So, you know from the start you need another, different species of apple in the area for pollination, but it must be a variety that blooms at the same time. 

Since we were way out of our expertise on all this, we tried to find some websites that could give you better help than we could: Alabama Cooperative Extension Service Apple Varieties in Alabama and North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service Growing Apple Trees in the Home Garden were two we think will be of use to you. And, since you are in the far southeastern tip of Alabama, there may be some concerns about chilling requirements for apple trees to flourish. Your best source of information there is the Alabama Cooperative Extension System for Houston County. This home page has contact information and directions; they will likely have printed or online material to answer your questions.

Pictures of Malus coronaria (sweet crabapple) 

Pictures of Malus angustifolia (southern crabapple)



More Trees Questions

Appropriate use of redbud from Austin
May 04, 2014 - I am considering purchasing a hearts of gold redbud; I am also xeriscaping my front yard. I live in Austin,TX. Will this tree do ok in full Tx sun (8+ hours) with once a week watering? If this...
view the full question and answer

Clear pungent, liquid oozing from oak tree
June 28, 2010 - I have a large oak that over the last few days has been oozing a pungent, non sticky, clear substance from one specific site (no damage) about the size of a dime. It's attracting quite a few gnats, m...
view the full question and answer

Source for Desert Willow from Dallas
October 03, 2011 - I'm looking for a source for chilopsis linearis. I live in Dallas, TX. None of the specialty nurseries in Dallas seem to be able to source it. Is there any local source? Is there any source withi...
view the full question and answer

Privacy screening from Prosperity SC
May 19, 2013 - I need to know what would be a good tree to plant for blocking my neighbor's home it needs to be an evergreen and slender in the space it would take.
view the full question and answer

Planting petunias around base of oak tree from Houma LA
March 30, 2013 - I live in south Louisiana and I want to plant petunias. Can I plant petunias around the base of an oak tree?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center