The Oregon crab is the only North American apple species native to the areas west of the Rocky Mountains. Although it is known to be hardy, it has been grown very rarely in Finland. In America itself the species isn’t regarded as particularly attractive, though the oval shape of the fruit makes it unique among the crab apples. Instead, it is used as root stock for grafting other apple species onto, as it thrives in difficult conditions such as clay or wet. Native Americans used the plant in various ways in their herbal medicines but this use has ceased, so far as is known.
A cloud of white flowers on a stiff-branched thorny bush make an interesting combination which seems almost unreal. The same sensation is repeated in autumn when the dark twiggy branches are decorated by a multitude of tiny red apples. These combinations are offered by the Sargent crabapple, and in between the bush dresses itself in yellow and red autumn leaves.
The wild crab grows naturally throughout most of Europe but in Finland it is limited to the very south-west of the country. Other than in the Åland islands it is protected.
The common (or domestic or orchard) apple has been grown for thousands of years and its origins are still uncertain. A central role has been played by the central Asian species Malus sieversii, called Eve’s apple in Finnish.
Native to the Far East, the Siberian crab in flower looks like a white cloud. Rather small, it produces no suckers and when young is erect in habit, with non-hairy shoots, developing a broad crown. It can be seen growing at Mustila both on Pähkinärinne (Hazelnut Slope) and on Etelärinne (Southern Slope) west of the giant Douglas firs (Pseudotsuga menziesii). In time, the Siberian crab can grow to about 10m, so isn’t suitable for very small gardens. The branches are thornless, often branching sidewards and finally drooping.