American Crab Apple – Malus coronaria

Crabapple blossoms
Crabapple blossoms

Somebody’s little girl—

how easy to make a sob story over who she was once

and who she is now. 
Somebody’s little girl—

she played once under a crab-apple tree in June

and the blossoms fell on the dark hair.

By Carl Sandburg

This small tree (only reaching 20 – 30 feet in height) is native to the bottoms, wooded slopes, thickets and clearings of North America, from New York to South Carolina and west to Kansas. It is the tree that the infamous Johnny Appleseed (his real name was John Chapman, born in Massachusetts in 1774) made it his mission to plant!

The seeds contain hydrogen cyanide (as all apple seeds do) and can cause poisoning problems, but the seed is fine when swallowed if the shell has not been cracked. An excess consumption can cause respiratory failure and even death. But hydrogen cyanide has been shown to be useful in the stimulation of respiration and improved circulation in small doses.

Another issue found with this tree is with the root, which can cause abortion especially in the first trimester. A decoction of the root has therefore been used to treat suppressed menses. A hot infusion of bark is used to treat gallstones, piles, and sore mouths. A cold infusion of the bark is used as a wash for sore eyes, black eyes, and snow blindness.

The fruit is used for cleansing, as a laxative, and stewed for diarrhea and dysentery. In Bach Flower Remedies Crabapple is the ‘cleansing remedy’ for body and mind. The people who need this have a poor self image, feel ‘dirty’ or are obsessed with cleanliness and trivialities.

The fruit are also edible, but they are astringent and therefore most people make jams or jellies from them. Bark yields yellow to yellow-tan dye with no mordant.

Pehr Kalm (was one of the twelve men whom Linnaeus called his apostles) wrote from America:

            “The apples, or crabs, are small, sour and unfit for anything but to make vinegar of. They lie under the trees all winter and

             acquire a yellow color. They seldom begin to rot before spring comes on.”


One response to this post.

  1. I fell in love with one of the Crab Apple trees we had on our property where we once lived. It was so magickal as well, I connected with the Goddess there, left offerings and thanks, and happened to make the best Applesauce I’d ever made before of the apples — which was surprising, because they, like you mentioned in your article, are sour.

    I really miss that Crab Apple tree now…never did get to see the blossoms on it.

    Many blessings, and thank you for this!
    )O( Shamanic Winds


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