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Malus spectabilis (Ait.) Borkh.

Modern name

Malus × spectabilis (Sol.) Borkh.


Pyrus spectabilis Ait.; Malus s. var. plena Bean

A tree rarely more than 30 ft high, forming a rounded head of branches often as wide as high; young twigs downy. Leaves oval or obovate to almost round, 2 to 312 in. long, up to 2 in. in width; toothed, shortly and abruptly pointed, tapering or rounded at the base, glossy green and glabrous above, downy when young beneath, becoming almost or quite glabrous by autumn; stalk 14 to 1 in. long. Flowers deep rosy-red in the bud state, paling to a blush tint when fully open, and then nearly 2 in. across; they are borne each on a downy stalk 34 to 114 in. long, in umbels six or eight together; petals normally more than five; calyx and flower-stalk downy. Fruits globose, yellow, 34 to 1 in. wide, bitter and harsh; calyx persisting at the top; base not hollowed.

M. spectabilis has long been cultivated in N. China but is not recorded there in the wild state. The date of its introduction is not known, but it was cultivated by Dr Fothergill in 1780, and had become fairly common in gardens by the end of the century. The form then cultivated, from which Aiton described the species, had semi-double flowers and is figured in Bot. Mag., t. 267 (1794). A single-flowered form was in cultivation by 1825.

M. spectabilis is one of the most beautiful of the genus in its flowers, but has no beauty in its fruits. It flowers almost invariably in great profusion from the middle of April to the second week in May.

cv. ‘Riversii’. – Flowers deeper pink, with up to twenty petals; leaves larger and broader. Raised by Rivers’ nurseries, Sawbridgeworth, Herts, before 1864 and figured in Florist and Pomologist (1872), p. 25, as Pyrus s. roseo-plena. The epithet riversii was the one under which it was distributed by Booth’s nurseries at Flottbeck, near Hamburg, through which many cultivars of British origin passed to continental gardens.

M. × micromalus Mak. M. spectabilis var. kaido Sieb.; Pyrus s. var. kaido (Sieb.) Kirchn.; Pyrus ringo var. kaido (Sieb.) Wenzig – A small erect-branched tree. Leaves elliptic-oblong, narrowly cuneate at the base, glossy above, downy beneath when young, becoming glabrous. Flowers deep red in the bud, when open pale pink at the edge, deeper pink at the centre. Fruits red, about 12 in. across, hollowed at the base and usually without a persistent calyx.

A hybrid of M. spectabilis, of which the other parent is thought to be M. baccata. It was introduced to Europe by Siebold from Japan before 1856, but according to Makino came originally from China. Its date of introduction to Britain is given by Nicholson as 1874. At Kew it flowers at the end of April and early May.



Other species in the genus