Episode 05: Crabapple Collection

One of the earliest collections of trees that was started at the arboretum was its crabapple collection. In this podcast we dive into a little bit of the history of the crabapple tree and its significance for Iowa. David Horst talks about the history of the collection at the arboretum and how it got started. We also talk about the addition of the daffodils under these trees and how these plants add to the overall crabapple collection. Since these are living trees the collection also changes over time for a variety of reasons, these along with the benefits that come from owning and planting crabapple trees along with how to properly care for them is also discussed towards the end of the podcast. 

Transcript

 
Ryan Welch: The Crab Apple tree is considered a deciduous flowering tree that is small in stature, often between 30 to 50 feet in height. A deciduous tree is one that has leaves during the spring and summer growing seasons, but will go dormant in the fall and winter months and drop its leaves. 

Crab apples are defined as any small tree in the Malus genus, which is the same plant genus as regular apple trees. And both are in the Rosaceae plant family, which is the same plant family as Rose's. The Crab Apple Tree originated in the mountainous regions of Central Asia, specifically in modern day Kazakhstan. 

But it can be found in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, including Russia and China. They also inhabit the temperate regions of North America since they were introduced to the Western Hemisphere in the 18th century. They tend to be found in relatively open areas with lots of sun exposure and good air circulation. 

These trees do not have a particular soil preference. They do best in moist well-drained and slightly acidic soils. However, they are also highly adaptable to poor soils and they can endure various soil acidity, soil compaction, drought, pollution, wounding, and even some heavy pruning. 

This adaptability gives these crab apples a very high urban tolerance. They became popular cultivars, which are trees that are often used for selective breeding purposes, and they spread throughout the continent via the Silk Road. Romans brought the species from Asia into Europe, where the species experienced a rapid diversification into over 800 distinct species. 

It became the cultivar of choice in Europe, but particularly in Britain, and was eventually brought into North America, where they are currently found in abundance and in some areas even considered native. In fact, there is actually an Iowa Crab Apple, which is not only native to Iowa, but it's the only plant that has the state's name in 

its scientific nomenclature, Malus Ioensis. It has several common names as well, including the Prairie Crab Apple, the Iowa Crab Apple, the Western Crab Apple, the Prairie Crab, the Iowa Crab and the Western Crab. This tree is described as being a miniature tree in most respects, which will grow to about 35 feet in height with a dense, irregular form. It can sometimes be a spiny shrub looking thing, or just a small tree with spreading branches and an open crown. It produces a yellow to green apple like fruit and is not considered to be ornamental by crabapple standards. 

There is a variety of Iowa crab that is grown as an ornamental, which has been described as a handsomely double flowered variety. The Iowa Crab Apple is quite important from an ecological perspective, though, as the fruits are eaten by many species of birds like Bob White quails and pheasants, as well as squirrels, rabbits and other small mammals. 

The crab apple is considered a self-sterile flower, meaning that pollen from flowers on its own tree won't produce fruit. This also means that it is completely reliant on insects and other pollinators in order to produce the fruit that give the trees their name. 

They do cross-pollinate with other varieties of crab apples, so determining individual species within the genus is a very difficult. Crab apple flowers tend to be white, pink or red in their petal color with darker buds that bloom during the April and May months. 

This makes them one of the earliest flowers available to pollinators in the spring. Flowering may not occur to the same extent every year, and crabapple trees could alternate between years of heavy, showy flowering and fruiting, and years of only moderate flowering of fruiting the fruits of the crab apple tree around and fleshy and typically red, yellow, orange or green in color. The fruits belong to the pome variety and are used to attract mammals which tend to take them and distribute the seeds. They tend to be between a quarter to three quarters of an inch in diameter, and they mature in dense, showy clusters appearing the months of September or October. 

But they can hang onto the tree until as late as December. The fruits are edible for human consumption and can vary in flavor from quite acidic and sour tasting to fairly pleasant tasting. Often folks will use them in jellies and ciders, although about only 30 species of apple trees exist. 

Hundreds of hybrids are available. Gardeners tend to choose these cultivars based on flowering time, disease, resistance, color and fruit taste. Early flowering crab apples include Aldenhamensis  the Siberian Crab Apple. Hybrids with interesting foliage include Eleyi, which has purple leaves that contrast with its red flowers and purple fruit. 

Elise Rathke, which produces green apples with pink blushes and Malus trilobata, which has red leaves that resemble maple tree leaves. Well-known types that have good tasting fruit, including Transcendent,” “Centennial” and “Dolgo.”, “Maypole” is a dwarf variety also with tasty fruit. 

With the abundance of variety, the ease of care and growing and added ecological benefits. It is no wonder that they are such a popular tree variety among landscapers, gardeners and homeowners. It is also for these benefits that this was one of the first tree collections that was started at the arboretum when it first began in 1970. 

As David Horst explains a bit of the history of the Crab Apple collection that we have and how it came to be here at the Bickelhaupt Arboretum. When was, do you have any idea when the Crab Apple collection was first planted? 

David Horst: The first planting in the Crabapple collection was in 1970 

Ryan Welch: 1970 and has been going on pretty well ever since. So how many crab apples were planted in that first round? 

David Horst: There were 24 crab that was planted in 1970. 

Ryan Welch: How did those crab apples arrive? 

David Horst: Okay. There is 24 of them. And the Bickelhaupts had ordered them from a nurse, men from Vincennes Indiana nursery called Simpson Nursery, and they filled out the paper for 24, one through 24. The first one, for example, was maybe Dolgo crab apple. 

David Horst: So they had a one there. But as they went down the list, one through 24, instead of putting one in front of everyone. They increased their number by one. So they ended up at 24 at the end. The nursery men took that as 24 of that particular crab apple. 

Ryan Welch: Of that variety. So it's just listing. This is my first one. This is my second. This is my third one. At the nursery, they looked at that. Oh, they want one of these two of these three these four of these five of these all the way down to 24. 

David Horst: That's correct. And Mr. Bickelhaupt said that the secretary for Mr. Simpson at Simpson's Nursery questioned it. But Mr. Simpson thought that they actually wanted that many. So they had that many shipped, that they had that many shipped. 

And Mr. Bickelhaupts claimed that when they came on a big flatbed truck, it was something like a big coffin like box to contain them all. They were rooted at that time, so they all fit in there. But it was a very large box and they knew right away there was something amiss when they saw the size of the crate that they were in. And of course, upon opening it, there was a lot of plants and they only had ordered 24. So to help solve the problem and Mr. Simpson was kind to the arboretum. He donated the 24 that they had requested. 

So to be kind to Mr. Simpson. Mr. Bickelhaupt went and talked to some local nursery men and asked if they'd be willing to buy them at wholesale cost, which is what Simpson Nursery does. They're a wholesale outfit. 

The other nurseries that Mr. Bickelhaupt talked to agreed that they would buy them. 

Ryan Welch: So they bought all the extras. So we got the 24 different varieties. We had one of each of those you get they planted, they put in all the extras, went to local nurseries, who then sold them. And then I'm assuming that paid back the nursery once the plants were sold. 

David Horst: That's correct. 

Ryan Welch: All right. And that was, again, prior to the Internet. And so that's one of the ways that mistake can happen if it's all pen, paper, mailing things back and forth, maybe a telephone. So I'm guessing they didn't because that's not surprising. 

The secretary was like, I think this is odd, but nobody thought to call and say, no, no, this is this is how this is supposed to be. 

David Horst: Right. And those nurseries that sell wholesale, of course, they were selling to other nurseries. They're used to dealing with big numbers. 

Ryan Welch: I mean, this was probably small potatoes and anything. 

David Horst: This would be small potatoes, one of each. So they just assumed that they were ordering and quantity. 

Ryan Welch: Ordering in quantity, that's really interesting. 

David Horst: Normally they sell five, ten, 15. 

Ryan Welch: Of each variety anyway. So 24 is what the type is. Nothing, because they're going to have 24 customers are going to want it. So it was probably ordered to them and they were only ordering one at a time. 

David Horst: Right, yeah. 

Ryan Welch: Now, did he get a lot of his plant material from various wholesalers in that way? 

David Horst: Yes. Over the years we've been very fortunate. Nurseries really like to actually donate the plants, so we're not always buying them or we can buy them at a cheaper price because they know that if we plant it here and we label it, we have visitors come and see it. 

David Horst: They're going to ask where they can buy that. 

Ryan Welch: So it's, it's a little bit of advertising for them. It's too. So it's a low cost advertising, word of mouth advertising that you don't have to worry about hiring somebody special to do this or marketing campaign. If we know that, you know, if people look at the trees and stuff here like this is something I can put 

in my house and here's what it's going to look like after so many years. If I take care of it. They're more than happy to ask those questions and have the information given to them. 

David Horst: Yep, that's right. Okay. So that's a benefit to us. Yeah, it saves us a lot of money. 

Ryan Welch: It does give us a lot of money. And it still keeps things going here and it helps with the education part as well. Yeah, I guess 

David Horst: And we're on the front edge of getting the new plants that are being introduced and released at the same time. 

Ryan Welch: So as we've said before, you know this, the lot of these plants, they live out their life, they're dealing with the elements, the heat, the drywall, the water, all that's the wind. And they need to be replaced at times. 

And you guys are replacing wood stuff that's, you know, like you said, the hot stuff in the market, so to speak, in some way. 

David Horst: Yeah. 

Ryan Welch: Underneath of the Crabapple collection, the first year there was planted 100 King Alfred and 100 Mount Hood daffodil bulbs. These were planted in a random pattern on the hillside among these crabapple trees. For the next four years, following 200 additional daffodil bulbs would be planted each fall for a total of 1000 bulbs underneath all of the crabapple trees in the collection, as David explains, these bulbs were naturalized and not mowed down until after their life cycle and growing season has been complete and they are added benefit to the Crab Apple collection that we have here at the Arboretum. 

Ryan Welch: And then under those crab. Apples to bring the people. In, they started with 200. 

David Horst: Daffodil bulbs a year for five years.  

David Horst: That's right.  

Ryan Welch: Do they quit after five years?  

David Horst: They quit for a while. And then we started digging up those as we were planting trees and we were planting a tree and we were putting a bed of woodchips around it to protect the tree, of course, and keep it healthy. 

If there was a clump of bulbs there, we would dig those up and replant them. Okay. If there was 30 bulbs that we plant to the hill on, so we'd have another 15 clumps. And we fill in. 

Usually we pick holes within the existing collection where they plant the original bulbs and we try to build in and make a solid display of flowering.  

Ryan Welch: And you just let those go and let them flower, and then after a while you wait to mow those down until after they've gone and done their most of their lifecycle for the most part. Correct? 

David Horst: That's right. After the foliage completely turns yellow and turns brown, after that, we go in and we'll cut it off and clean it up. Usually involves breaking the grass, then it comes back up. We always want to let the plant produce enough energy for its use for next year. 

We don't want to cut them off too soon. 

Ryan Welch: Over time, the Crab Apple collection has changed quite a bit as trees mature and live out their life cycles and are then, in some instances replaced by arboretum staff and volunteers. David goes on to explain a little bit about these changes and how they've occurred at the arboretum and what goes into the decisions and the planning processes as the Crabapple Collection changes over time. How many are currently in the collection? How many crabapples? 

David Horst: Only Crabapple about 15.  

Ryan Welch: About 15. So we've gone down a little bit  

David Horst: Gone down now that they've matured and taken up more space and they are continuing, we continue to try to evolve with the Crabapple Collection. There are some different diseases and insect problems with them. 

So we're down to about 15 right now in our part of our job is to always go in and study the plants, see how they're performing, and when they don't perform, we remove them and select a new selection and we get help with this process. From Dr. Jeff Eilers used to work at Iowa State University. He's also known as Mr. Crabapple. 

Ryan Welch: Oh, is he? I did not know that.  

David Horst: He's an expert with crabapples. I'm fortunate to have him on our grounds committee to help us with these selections, because he's on the forefront of the plant development world. 

He knows what's new and what's good and what we should plant here at the arboretum with a limited amount of space here at the arboretum, 15 acres, we like to focus on the best selections that are available.  

Ryan Welch: Yeah. Because you want to showcase this is, you know, this is a museum. 

You're trying to showcase the best and the brightest, so to speak, of that particular type of player.  

David Horst: Right. You don't want to go select a plant that is susceptible to fireblight or apple scab. And then have you come visit the arboretum, see the name tag, and say, well, that must be a good plant because it's growing here at the arboretum. You go and spend good money on it.  

Ryan Welch: And then find out it's not going to work at my house.  

David Horst: Yeah, right. Have it lose its leaves in the middle of the summer. 

Ryan Welch: Man, so that there is a lot of research that goes into any one of these collections from the forefront and then during as well to make sure we've got everything we need and that yes, there's. There's nothing that is not showing. Its best and brightest here and that we don't make mistakes.  

David Horst: That's correct. We're constantly reviewing the plants. We have them on a computer program access. We can go in and we can look and see if they've had problems in the past. 

Dr. Eilers, we mentioned earlier from Iowa State University, he comes and he came last November and we review, we walk the complete grounds and we look at the tree, see how they are performing, how they're doing or if they've suffered storm damage like in the derecho, and then we review them and make decisions at that time. 

David Horst: So it's continually evolving.  

Ryan Welch: It's continually evolving. Yeah, so the 15 grab apples that we have left. Are those all from the original or are those all from 1970 or has some of those were swapped and you’ve replaced and gone through and things like that. 

David Horst: I'd say there's probably only 10 or 15% left from the original.  

Ryan Welch: Okay,  

David Horst: So unfortunately  

Ryan Welch: Like 2 or 3 from the original.  

David Horst: It’s unfortunate in a way but it also good that we update the collection.  

Ryan Welch: Yeah. Well that normally that just, you know, that tells me, okay, here we are 2022. Those crab apples are planted in 1970. You start with 24 in. 

The span of 50 years. Now we down to two or three that were original. That tells me, okay, if you're going to plant a crab apple, you don't have 50 years. Chances are you more like maybe ten, 15, 20 years into  enjoy that tree and you have to probably replace it. And that's probably another thing that you guys are thinking about as folks come and look at your collections and ask you questions. One of those questions probably is, what's the longevity of this in my yard? 

David Horst: That's right. 50 years is a pretty good term for crab apples versus like an oak tree or gingko tree that can live well beyond that or up into hundreds of years.  

Ryan Welch: Yeah.  

David Horst: But yeah, we feel it's very important. 

Plus, if we planted a tree in 1970, for example, a crab apple, if we planted a Crab Apple tree in 1970, today, a lot of those would not be found at any of the nurseries. So if you come here and saw that tree like dolgo crab apple, good luck going out and trying to find a dolgo crab apple that you can buy for your yard.  

Ryan Welch: Yeah. Because the industry is changing and evolving just as much as everything else.  

David Horst: They're constantly studying new plants that are better, that live longer, have prettier showier flowers, different colors, better shapes, and less disease and insect problems. 

So that's a benefit. Also, purchasing new plants for our collection here at the grounds is people that come to view it can actually find the plant and buy it. 

Ryan Welch: Well, the Crab Apple collection at the Arboretum is a great way for people to see some of the better ornamental crab apple varieties that are on the market. The big question for some people may be what are the benefits of planting a crab apple tree in my landscape? 

David discusses some of these benefits of having a crab apple tree on your property that are both esthetically pleasing, as well as some of the benefits to surrounding wildlife that these trees provide throughout the year. When benefits do crab, apple trees, give homeowners, landscape folks or the general public on their property. 

So, we've talked a lot about our Crab Apple collection. And, you know, the reason it's there is to sort of show people to showcase what they could do in their landscape. So what could people do with crab apples in their landscape? 

David Horst: Well, Ryan, first and foremost, the crab apple trees are among the most prized ornamental trees grown here in the Midwest. And they're absolutely beautiful when blooming in the spring. A lot of people, I mean, who doesn't like to see trees blooming or shrubs or flowers. 

So they're very popular for their blooms that they provide. I believe this is the number one reason most people have one in their yard or two or three. 

Ryan Welch: Is just for the flowers, especially in the spring. 

David Horst: Right. The average homeowner, I believe, is due to the flowers.  

Ryan Welch: Okay.  

David Horst: But they are also an important early source of pollen for bees. Excellent source of food for birds. The birds that overwinter here particularly need food at that time of the year, especially if we have a heavy snow cover or icy snowpack. 

The fruit may be small and sour to us humans, but the cardinals, robin, cedar wax wings and many other birds, they're especially drawn to the crab apples. They tend to stay on the tree for an extended period of time, which makes them desirable to these birds and mammals. 

Ryan Welch: The fruit does. 

David Horst: The fruit does. Yeah. Here at the Arboretum we see all the birds I've mentioned. Plus we see a lot of deer over there, though even stand on their hind legs to reach the lower limbs. Once they've got the ones that are easily accessible, they'll stand on your hind legs to reach the higher ones. 

Ryan Welch: So it sounds like the benefits of having a crab apple, if you're a homeowner that wants wildlife early on, the flowers themselves provide probably one of the earlier pollen sources for your bees and your wasps and your other things that like that need pollen early on, especially when they're just coming out and getting ready for the spring. 

And then the fruits, once the fruits are made, because they last so far into the late fall and winter season, they're wonderful food, type of food for a lot of your overwintering birds and your mammals and your deer. 

David Horst: That's right. When a lot of other food sources have dried up or are not available to them.  

Ryan Welch: Yeah. 

David Horst: You know, and another very important benefit of crab apples for homeowners is the leaves in the fall have an attractive fall color and then that fruit after the leaves for the fruit become more visible and persist, like we just mentioned, throughout the winter. So you have that fruit show throughout the winter. 

Ryan Welch: What kind of colors then are the leaves as they shrinks? Somehow, maples are usually like a red or yellow or an orange. The crab apples have a distinctive fall foliage color. 

David Horst: Most of the crab apples that we have in our question here at Bickelhaupt Arboretum tend to be on the yellow or golden side.  

Ryan Welch: Oh, okay  

David Horst: Which is still attractive with green grass. 

Ryan Welch: Exactly. When the green grass or even if you're a homeowner, you have a couple of trees, maybe you've got a maple that's really, really red. And now you have this crab apple that's also a yellow gold. You get a couple of different colors, which is very nice in the fall foliage scheme of things. 

David Horst: Yep, that's right. 

Ryan Welch: As we can see, crabapple trees provide many benefits to the landscape. But as David points out, there are obstacles, considerations and maintenance concerns that come along with planting and caring for crabapple trees. That may be a bit unique compared to other tree varieties that people use on their property. 

What obstacles, though? So homeowner you know, we've talked about the benefits of why a homeowner would want a crab apple and some of the ecological benefits from owning a crab apple tree in your yard. What obstacles, though, does a person have if they want to plant a Crabapple 

David Horst: Well, first off, I think there's a number of obstacles. And I'm not saying that crab apples are a problem tree. This isn't those obstacles with any type of tree. If you look far enough, you can find them. But with crab apples, I would have to say one of the drawbacks to planting a crab apple tree would be the mess made from the fruit. 

Ryan Welch: Oh yeah. 

David Horst: A lot of people don't think of this when they go to the nursery and look for a tree. This is typically not a problem as long as some thought was given to the location when planting. Personally, I would not recommend planting them near driveways or cement walks. 

Ryan Welch: Gotcha. You're always going to step on the fruit as it comes off. 

David Horst: And can become slippery. But it becomes a mess and a liability. 

Ryan Welch: It could, yeah. 

David Horst: Pruning is also important. They tend to grow a fair number of water sprouts from the trunk and limbs. Suckers tend to grow from the trunk near ground level. The canopy can also become quite dense if left unpruned, so it's very important to keep them pruned. 

If you do not prune them, the suckers and the water sprouts can become quite large. I've seen them four or five feet long, an inch and a half across. 

Ryan Welch: Now those suckers, what are they? Are they drawing energy? That is from the main part of the tree. 

David Horst: And that's important. They draw energy from the tree. 

Ryan Welch: Okay. And as that could potentially weaken the core, if you will.  

David Horst: That's correct.  

Ryan Welch: And thus the longevity of our tree might be limited then if you don't prune it properly. 

David Horst: That's right. Very important. Pruning is. 

Ryan Welch: So instead of having a nice tree, you then have a crabapple almost bush that really isn't all attractive, isn't really doing ecologically what it needs to do, and won't last that long anyways. 

David Horst: That's right. Crab apples are also susceptible to several major diseases which can cause early defoliation, disfigurement and weakening of the tree. There are a number of diseases that commonly occur on crab apples and home plantings, and couple of the most common would probably be scab and cedar apple rust. 

Ryan Welch: Oh, okay. Which I think if I remember, I apple rust is a type of fungus, correct? 

David Horst: Correct. All right. They're both caused by a fungus and they both affect the fruit and the leaves. These are both usually encountered to some degree nearly every year in this area. They're both common problems. 

Ryan Welch: Because there's probably a wind borne fungus, isn't it? Just blowing in the wind, as they say. And so, you know. 

David Horst: And it's very common and people don't have to become alarmed if they notice something on their tree. And if it's one of those two problems, a little bit more of a serious disease would be fireblight. And it's recognizable by lesions on the bark. 

Ryan Welch: Okay. 

David Horst: Whereas the other two were more on the fruit and the leaves. This is actually lesions. And whenever you have lesions on a plant, that's not good.  

Ryan Welch: It's not a good sign,  

David Horst: It's a wound. And you can recognize the lesions. 

They may be watery easing from the wound, tan liquid color. Eventually the disease can spread to the fruit and flowers and even eventually death to the tree. So this is more of a serious problem. The other ones are more cosmetic. 

Cosmetic and bother the person more. The leaves may prematurely drop in the summertime on the other two problems, but typically the tree will come back year after year. It just looks unsightly at that time and it can weaken the tree if it does that a number of years in a row. 

Ryan Welch: Because my guess is the rust, at least with the leaves, it's prohibiting photosynthesis and things like that. So thus the leaves not getting or the trees not getting as much energy. But it also means that's why your leaves might fall, because they're getting covered and the plants are defense of themselves. 

If they know that they've got certain leaves that aren't getting what they need, they're not getting the amount of light they need or anything else. They'll drop those leaves and get rid of them as a way to sort of protect themselves and not put energy towards something that's really not going to do them any good. 

David Horst: That's right. Okay. And I can't stress enough, you know, how important careful plant selection is. As we discussed in another podcast, the arboretum is here to showcase the top plants to people so that they don't come here and buy a plant that has disease or insect issues. 

Ryan Welch: Exactly.  

David Horst: They're expensive to buy. Crab apples is probably one of the most important to make proper selections of. There are many very good disease resistant cultivars on the market, but there are just as many poor ones. 

Ryan Welch: Oh, yeah. And so doing a little bit of education ahead of time, a little bit of research and come. 

David Horst: To the arboretum and see 

Ryan Welch: See what we got here. And then, you know, think about it from there before you go and pick out your crab apple. 

David Horst: That's very important to do a little research on it. With many of these diseases, sanitation is also important and controlling the problem. Leaf clean up in the fall, which helps remove the fungus from overwintering in a protected location in the leaf litter and also the removal of the dead branches. 

Ryan Welch: Yeah, okay. Because those dead branches could be there as well because of various types of fungus, like fireblight. Like fireblight and stuff like that. So. All right. Are crabapple trees really expensive? 

David Horst: They never used to be, but all, it seems like all plant material has very gone up the last ten, 15 years. And trees are no different.  

Ryan Welch: No different.  

David Horst: You know, their cost has gone way up, so they become more expensive. 

David Horst: Transportation costs and freezing the material and everything for the nurseries. 

Ryan Welch: All goes that supply chain as well. Yeah. Yeah. So the Crab Apple collection is just one example, the flowering trees that the arboretum has on display in the spring. David and I discussed some of the other flowering trees that can be seen at the arboretum and how they are a bit different from the crab apples and thus 

Ryan Welch: present people with a different range of options that could be used in their areas for different landscape needs. So the crab apples, one example of a spring flowering tree here at the arboretum, does the area of any other of those spring flowering trees that people could see while they're out and about here? 

David Horst: Yes, as a matter of fact, we have a real nice selection of trees with spring blooms. And, of course, this is one of our most visited times of the year in the springtime, when trees are blooming and shrubs and the flowers makes for a wonderful visit for visitors. 

Of course, some of these have flowers which are much shorter than others, as you know, Ryan. Even maple trees flower in the springtime quite early. They do, but their flowers aren't real significant from a distance. Although if you walk up, they are kind of neat in a way. 

Ryan Welch: We would call those non-showy flowers. 

David Horst: Non-showy, is a good name for them. 

Ryan Welch: A good way to put that. 

David Horst: Versus the crab apples are very showy. 

Ryan Welch: And the big difference between the maples and the crab apples are the flowers as is the crab apples are pollinated by pollinators. The maple ones are pollinated by the wind, so they don't have to show off as much because they're going to get their stuff, their business done in the breeze. 

Whereas the crab apples, like, I have to have somebody else come here and pick up my pollen and distribute it and go from there. 

David Horst: That's a good point. Some of our top flower performers besides the crab apples, are magnolias. They're one of our showstoppers, like the crab apples. Cornelian cherry has a small flower, but still significant. It blooms in March, which is kind of unique, like the witch hazel blooms in February and March. 

Just that early performance is unique. Also, we have tree lilacs, Carolina silver bells, red buds, another one of my favorites. I just love that color. 

Ryan Welch: Oh, yeah, it’s very striking 

David Horst: And Pagoda Dogwoods to name a few. 

Ryan Welch: So there's plenty of other flowering trees other than Crab Apple. So, for instance, if a person didn't want to buy a crab apple because they want to deal with the fruit problem or things like that, things like the Redbud is not a bad one because they don't produce the same kind of fruit the same way. 

Ryan Welch: And another so there's other examples here that I bring in. People could look at say like a flowering tree, but I don't want to deal with the fruit aspect. They can come here, look at some of these other ones and go from there. 

David Horst: That's right. And do your research. Make sure you plant them in the right soil types, right locations like the red buds. While the crab apples are planted in full sun, the red buds prefer to kind of be a little bit protected from full sun. 

Ryan Welch: Okay. 

David Horst: Many times you see them grown as understory trees. We try to plant them so that the hot sun, they're in the shade.  

Ryan Welch: Okay.  

David Horst: And they seem to do very well that way. So always do your homework. Yep. Not only on the selection you're making for disease and insects, but also for its cultural conditions. 

Ryan Welch: Soil, shade, those kind of things. And then remember moisture and moisture, maybe even pH but that’s getting a little bit technical because a lot of people don't know the pH of their soil and they may. But it's still. 

David Horst: Very important with certain plants. 

Ryan Welch: With certain plants. Yeah. And then location is to, you know, think about when you plant that tree, you know, how tall is this thing going to get? What is it going to run into in my house or yard and what is it going to drop on places I want to walk on those kind of things? 

So, so there you have the crab apple, one of the more popular spring flowering trees and has a rich history both worldwide as well as here in the Midwest by providing a variety of colors in the spring with their fragrant and beautiful flowers, their brilliant contrasting foliage colors in the fall, and ecological benefits to both early pollinators in the spring and providing a late season food source for those wintering birds and mammals in our area. While some challenges do come with planting and caring for crabapple trees, these are fairly manageable. If a person does their research beforehand and selects the variety of carb apple that is right for them and their landscape. 

There are also other examples of flowering trees at the arboretum that visitors can observe to get an idea of the options that may work for their area. I would like to thank David Horst for his wonderful insights into the history of the collection at the Arboretum and his wonderful knowledge on the planting, maintenance and care for this popular tree. And to Otis Welch for the musical selection.