Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Southern Crabapple - Malus angustifolia   (Aiton) Michaux
Members of Rosaceae:
Members of Malus with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Rosales » Family Rosaceae
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Author(Aiton) Michaux
DistributionOccurs across most of the state, but has a somewhat bimodal range. Occurs across nearly all of the Coastal Plain, and primarily the southern half of the Mountains. Widely scattered over the Piedmont, but very scarce in the northern Mountains. Likely absent in some coastal counties, the northernmost Mountains, and parts of the western Piedmont.

This is a somewhat Southern species, found north only to southern NJ, PA, OH, and southeastern MO. It ranges south only to northern FL and eastern TX.
AbundanceIn the Coastal Plain, it is infrequent to frequent, though not common; however, it may be absent in some far eastern counties. Mostly infrequent to locally common in the southern Mountains. Rare to occasional in the remainder of the state, including all of the Piedmont.
HabitatThis is a species of mesic soils, and occurs typically along woodland borders, old fields, and fencerows. It does occur in forest interiors to some extent, though it does not grow well in heavy shade. It generally is not in wet habitats, but can be seen in damp forest margins and occasionally in bottomlands. Why the species is so scarce in the Piedmont is unclear, as suitable habitat appears to be common.
PhenologyFlowers in spring (mostly April into May) and fruits in August to September.
IdentificationThis is a small deciduous tree, at times a shrub, usually with a single trunk, growing up to 20-25 feet tall. It can grow by root sprouts and thus can be a bit colonial. It has thick and dark green leaves that are mostly wavy-crenate margined, and somewhat ovate to narrowly lanceolate in shape. All crabapples (Malus) also have some stubby twigs that are quite thorn-like. When in bloom, the species can easily be spotted at a distance by the large pink flowers and habit of occurring along wood margins, though a few other exotic Rose family species (such as Peach) can also be a bit similar.
Taxonomic CommentsAs with many trees and shrubs in the Rose family, species in this family have often “bounced around” several genera over the years. The species has often been named as Pyrus angustifolia by a number of references.

Other Common Name(s)Wild Crabapple, Narrow-leaved Crabapple. Some references name all species in the genus as “crab apple” instead of “crabapple”.
State RankS3? [S4S5]
Global RankG5?
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B.A. SorrieWhispering Pines, single tree in disturbed woodland. March 2017. MoorePhoto_natural
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