Friday, March 16, 2012

Tree of the Week

Flowering CrabapplesMalus Mill. (Pyrus L.)

DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS: Leaves simple, alternate, elliptic to oval in shape (lobed in some varieties), toothed; veins usually ending or forming a network near the margin. Winter twigs moderate in diameter, usually with spur shoots; leaf scars linear or crescent-shaped, small, with 3 bundle scars. Buds small, subglobose to ovoid, with several scales that are hairy at least along the edges. Flowers showy, perfect, regular, in corymb- or umbel- life clusters at the ends of the spur shoots, appearing shortly before, with, or shortly after the leaves in spring; petals 5 to many, white, pink, or reddish, obovate to round; styles joined at base. Fruit a pome, variously sized and colored, but commonly small and berrylike, bright red or yellow, often persisting in winter. Bark smooth or scaly, gray to reddish brown in color.

SIMILAR TREES: Red- and pink-flowered crabs are not likely to be mistaken for other trees, as no other tree has flowers of their shape and color. (Redbud has much smaller, irregular flowers.) White-flowered crabs can be distinguished from serviceberries by their broad petals and later blooming from Callery pear by their united styles and usually later blooming time. At other seasons, crabs can be distinguished from other small trees by buds and fruits.

IOWA DISTRIBUTION: Commonly planted throughout the state.

Forest and Shade Trees of Iowa: Third Edition, by Peter J. van der Linden and Donald R. Farrar

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