A shrub of bushy habit 5 to 8 ft high; young shoots downy. Leaves ovate or oval, 2 to 3 in. long, 1 to 2 in. wide, pointed at the apex, rounded or slightly heart-shaped at the base, often three-lobed, sharply toothed, woolly when quite young, becoming nearly glabrous before falling; stalks downy, 1⁄3 to 1 in. long. Flowers pure white, 1 in. across, produced in clusters of five or six, each on a stalk 1 to 11⁄4 in. long; calyx glabrous outside, woolly within. Fruits orange-shaped, 1⁄3 in. wide, bright red, the apex marked by the scar of the fallen calyx. Bot. Mag., t. 8757.
This very attractive species was sent to Kew by Prof. Sargent in 1908. It is distinct among crabs by its purely bushy habit. It was originally discovered by Sargent in 1892 near a brackish marsh, Mororan, Japan, and was named in his honour by Dr Rehder in 1903. The author observes that it is most nearly related to M. sieboldii, but differs in its larger, pure white flowers with broad overlapping petals and in its larger fruits. From another ally, M. × zumi, it is distinguished by ‘its broader, often lobed leaves, the shape of the [broader based] petals, the glabrous calyx-tube and the habit’.
It is exceedingly doubtful whether this crab is entitled to rank as a species. Schneider considered it to be a variety of M. sieboldii and in Ohwi’s Flora of Japan (1965) it is treated as synonymous with that species. The fact that M. sargentii keeps true to type only when grafted supports this conclusion. The German nursery firm Timms and Co. offer both grafted plants and seedlings, and remark that the latter grow to over 20 ft high.
cv. ‘Rosea’. – Flowers pink in the bud, about 11⁄2 in. across. It grows taller than the true M. sargentii. It was raised in the Rochester Parks, New York.