Malus × dawsoniana Rehder

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Credits

Julian Sutton (species), Nick Dunn (cultivars) (2021)

Recommended citation
Sutton, J. & Dunn, N. (2021), 'Malus × dawsoniana' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/malus/malus-x-dawsoniana/). Accessed 2021-10-15.

Genus

Common Names

  • Dawson Crabapple

Glossary

Credits

Julian Sutton (species), Nick Dunn (cultivars) (2021)

Recommended citation
Sutton, J. & Dunn, N. (2021), 'Malus × dawsoniana' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/malus/malus-x-dawsoniana/). Accessed 2021-10-15.

A natural hybrid between the North American M. fusca and the introduced M. domestica. It forms an upright, densely twiggy tree with a rounded crown. Leaves 4–9 cm long, elliptic to oblong, unlobed; excellent autumn colour. Flowers white, 2.5–3.5 cm wide. Fruit yellowish green to red, 4 × 2.5 cm, elliptic to oblong. (Fiala 1994Grimshaw & Bayton 2009).

Distribution  Canada British Columbia (occasional) United States Oregon (common in Willamette Valley), Washington

USDA Hardiness Zone 4-8

RHS Hardiness Rating H6

Conservation status Not evaluated (NE)

Despite praise for its autumnal colour and its attractive elongated fruits (Fiala 1994), Malus × dawsoniana is not commonly grown, and is most likely to be found in specialist collections. It was introduced to cultivation from Oregon in 1881, at the Arnold Arboretum; the specific epithet commemorates Jackson T. Dawson, a propagator at the Arnold (Jacobson 1996).

Recorded from both Kew and Wisley, an unhappy-looking specimen in the Hillier Gardens, measured at 7.8 m × 66 cm in 2017, would not encourage its wider cultivation (The Tree Register 2020; Grimshaw & Bayton 2009). A further negative feature is its exceptional susceptibility to apple proliferation disease, caused by a phytoplasma infection (Morvan & Castelain 1975). Even in North America it is rare in cultivation and generally confined to the largest crabapple collections (Arnold Arboretum 2020; Morton Arboretum 2020).