Malus diversifolia - Oregon crab apple

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.

The Oregon crab grows as a tree or shrub with a ragged brown bark. The leaves on long shoots are deeply lobed on one or both edges, the fruit yellow or reddish.

At Mustila, Oregon crabs were planted on Pohjoisrinne (Northern Slope) and Nikkarinmäki (Nikkari Hill) in 2003. They have remained shrubby, less than 3m. So far they have proved hardy in southern Finland, and hardier provenances are perhaps still to be found.


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