Malus sieversii crab apple trees

  • Gardening skill: Suitable for beginners
  • Picking season: Mid
  • Self-fertility: Self-fertile
  • Pollination group: 3
  • Uses: Eating fresh
  • Uses: Cooking
  • Uses: Juice

The ancestor of the modern apple

In the 1990s researchers from the New York State Agriculture Experiment Station (NYSAES) at Geneva, NY, visited the fruiting forests of Kazakhstan in central Asia - believed by many to be the birthplace of the apple. They brought back numerous seedlings of wild Malus sieversii, the species which is now known to be the ancestor of all modern apples (Malus domestica).

There is certainly something strange and ancient about these trees.

Malus sieversii trees have little fruiting or ornamental value, but we are offering them because we think enthusiasts will appreciate the opportunity to grow a tree of a species of such historical significance.

The fruits are edible and can be used for cooking or juicing - they mostly have a plain subacid flavor. The skin color is variable, from light green to red.

Since Malus sieversii is a population rather than a cultivar, there is considerable variation in height, shape, and fruit in these trees. We graft them on to semi-vigorous rootstocks, so the mature height is likely to be somewhere between 8ft - 16ft. If you wish to order several trees we will endeavour to use different parent plants to increase the diversity.

Please note that because of the variable nature of these trees they do not necessarily meet the size standards of our mainstream apple trees - they are likely to have a lesser stem caliper and may be shorter (possibly less than 4ft).

Malus sieversii crab apple trees for sale

Mature height*
1-year Malus sieversii crab apple trees bare-root
Small (6ft-9ft) mature height
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*Find out more about the apple rootstocks we use to control the mature height.

How to grow

These trees should be planted in open ground. To achieve the most natural effect you may wish to leave them un-pruned, although we still recommend cutting back the tree after initial planting to help the tree establish.

Size and growth pattern are variable, but most Malus sieversii trees exhibit good natural disease resistance. However some forms are susceptible to fireblight, let us know if this is an issue in your area. Fireblight arose in the north-eastern USA in the 17th century, and whilst some modern heirloom varieties from that area have resistance, Malus sierversii originates in central Asia and pre-dates this disease, hence does not show much immunity.

Most of these trees bloom in the middle of the blossom season, and ripen in the middle or end of the season - but this can vary considerably, and it is best to make no assumptions about blooming or picking times.

Advice on fruit tree pollination.

Historical details

Propagated from the Malus sieversii trees maintained by the New York State Agriculture Experiment Station.

In 2010 researchers of the Italian apple genome project completed sequencing of the genome of a Golden Delicious apple. From this they were able to confirm that Malus sieversii was the ancestor of the modern apple Malus domestica.

Malus sieversii characteristics


  • Picking season: Mid
  • Uses: Eating fresh Cooking Juice


  • Gardening skill: Suitable for beginners
  • Self-fertility: Self-fertile
  • Pollination group: 3
  • Pollinating others: Good
  • Organic culture: Suitable

Disease resistance

  • General resistance: Good


  • Cold hardiness (USDA): (4) -30F / -34C
  • Summer average maximum temperatures: Cool ( 20C - 24C / 68F - 75F) Warm (25C - 30C / 76F - 85F) Cold (< 20C / 67F)


  • Country of origin: Kazakhstan
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