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Malus ioensis (Prairie crabapple)
Smith, R.W.

Malus ioensis

Malus ioensis (Alph. Wood) Britton

Prairie Crabapple, Iowa Crabapple, Western Crabapple, Prairie Crab, Iowa Crab, Western Crab

Rosaceae (Rose Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

A miniature apple tree in most respects, prairie crabapple grows to 35 ft. with a dense, irregular form. A sometimes spiny shrub or small tree, with spreading branches and broad, open crown. Exfoliating bark reveals silvery-gray inner bark. The large, white or pink, flowers grow in clusters that cover the tree. A yellow-green, apple-like berry is not ornamental by crabapple standards. If the foliage has escaped premature defoliation from fungus disease, it can develop a deep crimson color in fall.

This is the crabapple of the eastern prairie region in the upper Mississippi Valley. A handsome double-flowered variety is grown as an ornamental. Numerous species of birds, including bobwhites and pheasants, and squirrels, rabbits, and other mammals consume the fruit.


From the Image Gallery

1 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Fruit Type: Pome
Size Notes: Up to about 35 feet tall.
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun


USA: AR , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MI , MN , MO , NE , NJ , OH , OK , SD , TX , WI
Native Distribution: WI, MN & NE, s. to KY, LA & OK
Native Habitat: Edges of woods & thickets

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Well-drained loams.
Conditions Comments: A good specimen plant that needs full sun or it will become scraggly. Though it prefers moist, rich sites, this crabapple will tolerate dry conditions on limestone or alkali soil. Cedar-apple rust, apple scab, and other leaf diseases are severe. These trees tend to form clonal thickets. If a single stem is desired, suckers have to be pulled.


Use Wildlife: Crabapple thickets provide nesting sites, shelter, and food for large and small birds.
Use Food: Yellowish-green 1 inch diameter fruit are good for jelly and cider.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Fragrant Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees
Special Value to Bumble Bees
Special Value to Honey Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.


Description: Sow directly outdoors in fall or stratify and sow in spring. Does not germinate well in hot temperatures. Will root from suckers or softwood cuttings.
Seed Collection: Collect fruit in fall before it has fallen. Cut out seeds and clean before sowing or storage. Air-dry before storing in sealed, refrigerated containers.
Seed Treatment: Stratify for 30-60 days at 41 degrees.
Commercially Avail: yes

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 26 - Minnesota Wildflowers: a field guide to the flora of Minnesota (2009)
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Malus ioensis in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Malus ioensis in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Malus ioensis


Record Modified: 2023-05-10
Research By: TWC Staff

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