Common name: Crab apple, wild apple
Botanical name: Malus sylvestris
Family: Rosaceae (Rose)
Subfamily: Amygdaloideae (Plum)
Worldwide distribution: Native to Europe.
Local distribution: Widespread throughout the UK and Ireland.
Habitat: Hedgerow, scrub, roadsides and woodland.
Foraging season: Fruit late summer to early winter.
Crab apple is one of the most interesting trees growing in British and Irish hedgerows and woodland edges. They produce beautiful fragrant blossoms in spring and prolific fruit in late summer, which are most welcome by foragers and wildlife alike.
Many suburbs are built on old orchard sites and remains are often found from one garden to another, on street corners and public parks. Likewise, many are planted for their ornamental value. Roadside trees are however much more likely to have grown from discarded cores.
Crab apple is the wild counterpart to the cultivated apple (Malus Pumila), which is much smaller and tarter in flavour. It can be quite variable in size, shape and colour.
The fruit is sharper than cultivated varieties and is normally treated as cooking apple to be made into sauce, chutney and jelly because crab apple is naturally high in pectin and pair well with many ingredients. Apple cheese taste very similar to membrillo.