Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Magnoliopsida - Order: Rosales - Family: Rosaceae
The Crab Apple is the ancestor of most cultivated apples, and it is still used as the graft stock for many of the varieties cultivated commercially today.
While the blossom itself is very attractive in hedgerows, the fruits themselves are hard and bitter; indeed, it is not uncommon to find fallen apples lying intact beneath their trees well in to the new year - evidence that perhaps even slugs find them a bit on the sour side.
It is likely that the Crab Apple is a native tree of Britain. Found in hedgerows and at woodland edges, it grows to a height of nearly 10 metres in ideal conditions, and is most prolific on chalky soil.
Many of the 'wild' apples found along country lanes are not in fact true Crab Apples but garden escapes or self-sown trees from discarded cores of cultivated apples. The seeds of cultivars do not necessarily produce apples to type; they are more likely to revert towards the tiny, sour apples from which they were selectively produced by plant breeders.