Crabapples, members of this Rosacae plant family, are low-maintenance, versatile trees which add color to the landscape for the majority of the year — providing masses of flowers in spring, vibrant apples in summer, and a dramatic show of color in autumn. Fall foliage may be yellow, yellow, red, maroon, purple, orange or bronze, depending on the range. Crabapple trees are suitable for growing in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 8.
Several crabapple varieties provide stunning yellow foliage when temperatures drop in fall. “Centurion,” a narrow, upright tree has a mature height of about 20 feet, exhibits reddish-purple foliage in spring and turns bronze in the summer and yellow in fall. A relatively tall variety at 25 feet, “Spring Snow” reveals medium green leaves which turn bright yellow in fall. “Lancelot,” a compact tree at mature heights of 10 feet, provides yellowish-gold fall color. “Donald Wyman” is a round tree with glossy green foliage that turns yellow in fall.
Numerous crabapple trees develop spectacular hues of oranges and reds in fall. For instance, “Prairifire,” with a pleasant rounded shape and mature height of 20 feet, turns orange-red in autumn. “Indian Summer,” slightly smaller at 18 feet, exhibits greenish-bronze foliage in spring, turning brilliant orange-red in autumn. “Silver Drift,” a rounded, upright selection, has dark green foliage that turns orange-bronze in autumn. “Amberina” provides exceptional fall colors using a mixture of red and gold, while “Adams,” a tree with a beautiful, symmetrical shape, creates striking orange foliage.
Crabapple trees which produce maroon or purple autumn foliage are uncommon. However, “Brandywine,” which reaches heights of 15 to 20 feet tall, is an exception, as the tree exhibits striking maroon foliage in fall. The attractive leaves of “Thunderchild” remain purple in spring through fall. “Thunderchild” maxes out at about 15 feet.
The fruit of this crabapple tree is nearly as vibrant as the autumn foliage. For instance, “Cardinal” apples are glowing red, while “Coralburst” creates bronze apples. “Schmidtcutleaf” and “Golden Raindrop” produce tiny golden-yellow fruit, while “Louisa” displays yellow crabapples. Varieties that produce purple apples comprise “Perfect Purple” and “Thunderchild.” Several crabapple trees, such as “Tschonoskii” and “Brandywine,” produce bright green apples, even though a few varieties, like “Prairie Rose” and “Marilee” normally produce no fruit at all.