Winter Fruit ID: Crab Apple

Photo of 'Adams' Crab Apples

As I mentioned Monday, planted Crab Apple (Malus spp.) trees can retain fruit throughout the white season -- fruit that many types of birds will partake in, when there are few other fruit options on the landscape. One common cultivar and the one shown here is 'Adams' Crab Apple (Malus 'Adams'). I've heard many people call these cherry trees, and with good reason -- if I topped your ice cream sundae with one of these fruits I bet you'd be fooled until you took a bite. Instead of a single hard pit (which Cherries contain), Crab Apples have multiple seeds arranged just like a full-sized apple (slice a fresh one crosswise and you'll see a star-shaped core; if you wait until February, you'll be left with a mushy mess). The only cherries I see during a New England winter are in my freezer (like Black Cherry and Choke Cherry -- both of which I've been using to flavor jello) or imports for sale in a supermarket.

All Crab Apples are edible, and if gathered before they turn to mush some types can be used to make jellies and drinks. By late winter, they are too funky to be appetizing. In my experience, 'Adams' Crab Apples are among those best suited for Wild Turkeys, American Robins, and Cedar Waxwings.

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