Roadside Dwarf Crabapple for Evaluation

Here’s a roadside crabapple I’ve been eyeing for a few years. It was clearly planted by a bird which had perched on the fence.

Why this specimen caught my eye:
*It is relatively mature, but has maintained a very compact size
*The trunk is very thick for its overall small size which could make it worth cloning to evaluate as a self supporting dwarf rootstock. However, its ability to ramify well at a small size could also make it popular for use in bonsai as a specialty use.
*It has a very attractive growth habit. There is no evidence that this tree has ever been pruned or chopped back in any way and yet it has an almost Christmas tree like form with a rigidly upright central trunk densely covered in thick horizontal branches; many of which emerge at a nearly 90° angle.
*Flower production is heavy

For scale the adjacent fence is about four feet tall. Fruit quality is as yet undetermined, but I do know it is certainly within the crabapple size range and not a standard size apple fruit.

What do you all think of this?


Yes, very nice shape, size and flowers. A good find. I would try to root some cuttings. Perfect if the fruit turns out to be edible.

My plan is that after the initial batch of grafts are established and then transitioned to their own roots they can be used to create stools for further “own-root” propagation. I’d love to send some of these around to others for evaluation both as a tree in its own right and to trial as rootstock.


Worth it to test if it roots directly from cuttings too though?

It’s really got a great structure, good find!

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It would make sense to test for rooting ability from cuttings. It wasn’t on my mind though since stooling works well for apples. For the time being I will proceed with scaling up clones from the scion I already grafted. I wanted to avoid cutting anything more than necessary from the ortet in order to preserve its untouched appearance.

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Looking forward to updates about fruit quality later in the year! Great find

I don’t have super high hopes because past visual references indicate it’s clearly a crabapple. If it actually tastes great that would be a bonus. I for sure like it for its form. I’ll make sure to get pictures of the fruit when ripe and hopefully it’ll be tasty either raw or cooked.

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I’ve had crabs that I enjoyed eating, so it’s not impossible!

Nice find dude. I wonder what the root system is like on that thing…

I’d definitely be happy if they’re of good flavor even if only cooked. I’ll be curious to see whether the fruit set is high or not. Last year I didn’t keep close track of it and although I did see fruit on the tree I didn’t get by at the right time to really get a sense of productivity or exactly when they ripen. I’ll have to make more frequent visits this year.

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If the trunk is any indication I’m hoping the roots are very sturdy. It would be awesome if it could be used as a free standing dwarf rootstock that didn’t need staking for support.


I think I could manage the thinning and bagging of fruitlets on a tree that size that’s necessary to prevent codling moth infestation in the absence of spraying, if the fruit is any good. I’ll definitely be following along in this thread.

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If it ends up being any good for fruit I’ll almost certainly be able to get you set up with a young clone to grow out.


It might be the next great dwarfing rootstock!


Nifty-looking crab. Perfect for back yards. For sure, keep me on your list when clones become available.
take care, doug

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I’m certainly hoping people will collaborate with me to find out. Once I have enough started I was thinking of sending out starts for people to establish stools from so they can produce whatever amount they wish to trial.

Even if they don’t root as quickly as the fast rooting commercial rootstock selections they could still be worthwhile on account of their sturdy trunks.


Not sure where you found this gem, but I would also be interested in its hardiness. I have plots here in Salem, OR and a tree farm in NW Montana. Would love to trial it both places.
take care, doug

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The ortet in in western Washington zone 8a.

I would surely be interested in trialing these in 6b mi.


Excellent growth habit.
What is the fruit like ?