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This beautiful crab was raised by Messrs Barbier of Orleans around 1900 by crossing M. niedzwetzkyana with M. × atrosanguinea (M. floribunda atrosanguinea), and was originally distributed as a variety of M. floribunda. In habit it is more erect and open than M. floribunda and does not develop the same dense thicket of branches. The leaves are larger, sometimes slightly lobed, of a purplish red that is especially pleasing in the delicately tinted early stage. In the bud state the flowers are of a delightful ruby red, becoming paler and more purple on opening fully; they are 1 to 11⁄4 in. wide, the petals broader and more cupped than in M. floribunda; the stamens, calyx, and flower-stalk are also richly coloured. The flowers are in clusters of six or seven and expand in April. Fruits globose, about the size and shape of large cherries, pendulous on stalks about 1 in. long, dark vinous red, the calyx adhering at the end.
It is, of course, from M. niedzwetzkyana, the supposed male parent, that the rich colouring of the leaves, flowers, and fruit (also the red colouring that permeates the young wood right through) have been inherited.
The following crabs were treated by Rehder as forms of M. × purpurea: ‘Aldenhamensis’, ‘Eleyi’, and ‘Lemoinei’. These are treated in the section on hybrid clones, starting on p. 714. For M. × purpurea f. pendula see ‘Echtermeyer’ in the same section.