A small tree of about the size and character of the ordinary apple; young bark reddish purple. Leaves 3 to 5 in. long, 2 to 21⁄2 in. wide, ovate or oval, round-toothed, downy all over the lower surface when young, afterwards on the midrib only; stalk downy, 3⁄4 to 11⁄2 in. long. The stalk and midrib are bright red, the blade also is of a decided red tinge when young, becoming purplish later in the season. Flowers in apple-like clusters, deep red-purple, 11⁄2 in. across, flower-stalks 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. long and, like the calyx, covered with whitish wool. Fruits conical, with a few broad grooves running lengthwise; 2 in. long, of a deep vinous red. Bot. Mag., t. 7975.
This apple occurs in the mountains of Russian Central Asia and bordering parts of China. It is recognised as a species in Fl. SSSR, near to M. sieversii, of which it may only be a colour variant. It has also been suggested that it is really a form of orchard apple (M. domestica).
Five seedlings from it were raised at Kew, and of these, three came as green in branch and leaf as the ordinary apple, and the flowers were merely pink – not the beautiful red which makes this one of the most striking of its group. It was introduced to cultivation by Dr Dieck, of Zoeschen, in Germany. The fruit is not of high quality as we know apples, being of rather turnip-like consistency. So completely is the tree permeated with red colouring matter that the young wood, when cut, shows red right through, as does also the fruit. Introduced to England in 1894.
M. niedzwetzkyana is uncommon in gardens, for it does not flower freely and is subject to scab. But many of the garden hybrids owe to it the reddish or purplish colouration of their flowers, fruits and foliage. See M. × purpurea and the clones cross-referenced there; the Rosybloom group treated below; and also ‘Profusion’ and ‘Liset’ (p. 717).
Rosybloom Group. – A group of hybrids between the Russian purple crab (M.niedzwetzkyana) and various “Siberian crabs” (M. baccata, M. prunifolia, and their hybrids) raised in Canada and the USA. The original set was raised at the Dominion Experimental Station around 1920 and selected and named by Miss Isabella Preston some ten years later; others were raised and named later by W. R. Leslie in Manitoba. All the original varieties were given the names of Canadian lakes. Other hybrids of similar parentage were produced by W. E. Hansen at the Agricultural Experimental Station in South Dakota, USA. The objective of these breeders was to produce crabs hardy enough to withstand the harsh winters of the Prairie States but the ability to withstand seventy degrees of frost is not a necessary attribute so far as British gardens are concerned. Many of the Rosyblooms have beautiful flowers and nearly all have decorative fruits which are also excellent for making crabapple jelly. The group has not as yet been fully tested in the British climate.
Members of this group described in the section on hybrid clones (pp. 714-717) are: ‘Almey’, ‘Chilko’, ‘Cowichan’, and ‘Simcoe’, all raised in Canada; and the American ‘Hopa’.