The Crabapples Are Coming! The Crabapples Are Coming!

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Crabapples are trees or shrubs in the genus Malus with fruits two inches or less at maturity. Larger fruits and you have – apples. The premier collection of the International Ornamental Crabapple Society is right here in Ohio, at Crablandia at the Secrest Arboretum of the Ohio State University Wooster Campus.  More on the crabapples at Secrest as the 2020 season progresses, but for now, below is some information on the mythical “peak’ for the bloom period in Crablandia.


Crablandia in 2013
This wonderful picture of crabapples along Williams Drive and in Crablandia was taken by OSU photographer Ken Chamberlain in 2013


The peak is mythical because the 74 crabapple taxa replicated and randomized in the plot, with more along the road through the Arboretum, differ in the timing of their first and full blooms. From the earliest bloomers to the latest bloomers there is a 3-4 week range.  ‘Strawberry Parfait’ is one of the earliest bloomers, ‘Adirondack’ is one of the latest bloomers, so the peak of either of these two crabapples is not the same as the estimated peak for the entire plot.


Strawberry Parfait crabapple blooms
'Strawberry Parfait' crabapplebloom photographed this year on April 27. One of the earliest bloomers.


Adirondack crabapple bloom
'Adirondack' crabapple bloom in past years. It is one of the latest to bloom, probably in mid-May this year.


The bloom of individual crabapples and the “peak” for the plot of course differs each year, based on the growing degree days that have occurred each season. This season is a little late compared to the last decade, though a touch earlier than last year’s late spring. In general, of course, we have earlier blooming than say 30 years ago, when Erik Draper and I first dedicated our life to crabophilia, since climate change’s effect on temperature and thus flower development has progressed.


Rousseau crabapple
'Rosseau' crabapple on April 20 this year


Rousseau crabapple
'Rosseau' crabapple on April 27 this year. Just wait until early next week: this crabapple along the road will be spectacular!


This peak is a popular time at Secrest, a time that traditionally is when more people visit the Arboretum than at any other time of the year, to view the crabapple bloom along Williams Road and in the Crablandia research plot. This was true before the 2010 Tornado of Wooster when many of the trees along the road and the old Crablandia plot were blown away.


Rousseau crabapple
And 'Rosseau' is a big Malus, but with a small fruit


Rousseau crabapple
'Rosseau' was planted 68 years ago at Secrest; a venerable old tree.


It is also true today, as more trees planted along Williams Road at Secrest were replanted after the Tornado with crabapples and other plants, and because the main Crablandia plot had already been expanded and moved to a new location in 2002, that turned out to be about 600 feet south of the Tornado’s path in 2010.  


Crablandia plot on April 20, 2020
Crablandia plot on April 20, 2020


This year of course presents another interesting facet relative to crabapple viewing at Secrest. Viewing of the crabapples is typically bimodal. Some view the ornamental Malus  from their cars; others delve deeper into the Crablandia on foot. Secrest Arboretum is open to the public for walkers who properly socially distance themselves, but Williams Road is closed. With an exception, as explained in this recent announcement below.


Crablandia plot on April 27, 2020
Crablandia plot on April 27, 2020


Crablandia plot on April 30, 2020
Crablandia plot on April 30, 2020. As you can see, soon there shall be Malus, not Malice, for all! See below


“To provide all visitors with the best possible opportunity to view Secrest’s crabapple collection during peak bloom, Williams Rd. will be open to vehicles on Monday May 4th, Tuesday May 5th, and Wednesday May 6th from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PMPlease observe the following guidelines:


  • Vehicle access is reserved for visitors with limited mobility and/or those only driving through the crabapple collection.
  • Visitors who walk through the collection must park in the main lot on Mill Rd. 
  • The two small parking areas along Williams Rd. will not be accessible.
  • Short stops along Williams Rd. are permitted when visitors remain in their vehicles. 
  • Please continue to observe social distancing measures as recommended by the Ohio Department of Health, and respectfully observe all other Secrest Arboretum regulations. 



We hope that everyone enjoys this beautiful time of year!  For those unable to join us, please check back next week for videos and other images of the peak crab bloom ( at Secrest!”



Adirondack crabapple fruits and Ken Cochran
And then, come late summer and fall, the rest of the story: the 'Adirondack' fruits shall shine forth. Here with former Secrest curator Ken Cochran,