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Crabapple vs. Apple Tree (The Key Differences to Know)

Crabapple vs. Apple Tree (The Key Differences to Know)

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Crabapples and regular apples have been around for a long time, and they generally look and feel the same to the touch. This can confuse most people as they are so similar. However, these fruits are quite different from each other. So, what are the differences between a Crabapple and a regular apple?

Crabapples and regular apples differ from each other in many ways. Crabapples only grow until they are about two inches in diameter, while traditional apples grow a lot larger than this. Crabapples also have a different flavor than regular apples, and the trees they grow on are different too.

What do Crabapples taste like compared to regular apples? What are the differences between the trees these two fruits grow on? Which one should you grow in your garden? Let’s find out!

The Differences Between an Apple and a Crabapple

Have you ever walked down the street and had an apple tree catch your eye, so you go for a closer inspection of the tree and see that these apples are not like the normal apples you are used to? Well, this has happened to a lot of people, and those trees you are seeing are Crabapple trees.

Crabapples, or wild apples, tend to look like normal apples that you buy in the shop, which can start to stir up a few questions surrounding this fruit. One question is, aren’t they the same fruit because they look almost exactly alike?

Well, Crabapples and normal apples are both from the same fruit tree family (Malus genus), but they have a few obvious differences and a few not-so-obvious differences between them. Let’s go through all the differences between these two types of apples and hopefully answer all the questions you have surrounding them.

The Size

Close Up of Crabapples
Close up of crabapples

Crabapples and normal, store-bought apples may have the same appearance, but one thing you may have realized is the pretty obvious size difference between the two types of apples. Crabapples tend to be a lot smaller than the normal apples we have grown accustomed to.

The size of these two apples is the main visual difference between these two different types of apples. Crabapples will only grow to be two inches or less in diameter, but there are Crabapple trees that produce fruit even smaller than this. In contrast, normal apples tend to grow a lot larger than this.

For this reason, if you have both these apples next to each other, you will easily be able to identify which one is which. So, if you have an unusual apple tree in your garden, and you are trying to determine if it’s a Crabapple tree or not, then you can tell by the fruit the tree produces.

The Taste

The taste between a Crabapple and a normal apple is also a great way to identify which type of apple you are dealing with. Crabapples and normal apples have very different flavor profiles.

Like normal, store-bought apples, there are many different kinds of Crabapples, including hybrids. Each different Crabapple has a different flavor, the same way a Granny Smith apple tastes different from a Red Delicious apple.

However, with Crabapples, you need to be careful which ones you have as some can give you an upset stomach. Some Crabapples are tasty and sweet that can be eaten straight off the tree.

Then some Crabapples will have a sour taste and should be cooked into a jam or not eaten, depending on which type you have. Apples also have varying flavor profiles, but they all tend to be sweet and crisp. You will hardly ever find a normal apple that tastes sour.

The Trees

Apple Trees
Apple trees

There are a few differences between the trees that produce Crabapples and the trees that produce the normal apples that we are all used to. Crabapple trees tend to be smaller than regular apples.

This is generally because they don’t need to produce such big fruit like the regular apple trees, so they don’t need to store as many nutrients. There are Crabapple trees that should only be grown for ornamental reasons, as these types of Crabapple trees are only bred for their flowers and not their fruit.

This means that they will produce sour-tasting fruit that should not be eaten. Whereas regular apple trees tend to grow quite large, and they are only grown for their apples, so you can eat all the fruit the tree produces.

Regular apple trees also tend to be needier than Crabapple trees as they were bred to require certain environmental conditions to grow. Crabapple trees are wild apple trees that often survive with very little help.

Which Apple Tree Should You Plant in Your Garden?

After all this information, you may be wondering which apple tree you should plant in your garden. Well, the answer to this will depend on a few different things.

These include the space you have in your garden, the time you have available to care for the tree, and what you want more; always sweet and ready to eat apples, apples with a slightly different taste, or even apple and apple tree just for show.

Remember, regular apple trees tend to grow large; therefore, they need lots of room to grow, but they will supply you with sweet apples you can eat straight off the tree. So, if you have the space and want to have sweet apples, then a regular apple tree is for you.

On the other hand, if you don’t have much space in your garden, but you still want an apple tree that produces some lovely, sweet apples you can eat right from the tree, then you can go for a Crabapple tree.

Some good Crabapple trees for this include the Centennial Crabapple or Whitney Flowering Crabapple. If you are after the look of an apple tree, but you don’t want to really eat the fruit, and you need something easy to care for, then you can plant an ornamental Crabapple tree.

For this purpose, some great Crabapple trees are Pink Spires Flowing Crabapple tree and Hopa Flowing Crabapple tree. However, the choice is yours!

Final Thoughts

Crabapples and regular store-bought apples tend to look very similar, but as you can see, they have many differences between them. Even though Crabapples are smaller than traditional apples, it is still worth the taste as these fruits are often unfound gems and taste delicious. That’s if you find the right type of Crabapple!