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These plants, funghi and insect illustrations
are part of my botanical oracle deck

Malus sylvestris | Crabapple

Botanical Overview of Crabapple

  • Scientific Name: Malus sylvestris

  • Common Names: Crabapple, Wild Apple, European Crabapple

  • Family: Rosaceae

  • Description: The crabapple is a small deciduous tree or shrub with a spreading habit and often thorny branches. It produces fragrant pink or white flowers in spring, followed by small, sour fruit that range in color from red to yellow when ripe. The leaves are oval-shaped with serrated edges and turn yellow in autumn.

malus sylvestris botanical illustration

Properties of Crabapple

  • Edibility: While crabapples are edible, they are generally too sour to be eaten fresh. However, they are commonly used in cooking to make jams, jellies, sauces, and preserves. Some cultivated varieties have been developed for their larger and sweeter fruit, which can be eaten fresh or used in culinary applications.

Distribution and Habitat of Crabapple

  • Native Range: Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa.

  • Preferred Habitat: Crabapples grow in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, hedgerows, and scrublands. They prefer moist, well-drained soils and full sun to partial shade. Crabapples are often found growing wild but are also cultivated as ornamental trees in gardens and parks.

Medicinal Properties and Uses of Crabapple

  • Traditional Uses: In traditional medicine, various parts of the crabapple tree were used to treat digestive issues, sore throats, and skin ailments. Crabapple fruit and juice were believed to aid digestion and promote bowel regularity. The bark and leaves were used topically to soothe skin irritations and minor wounds.

  • Modern Applications: While not widely used in modern herbal medicine, crabapples are still valued for their high vitamin C content and antioxidant properties. The fruit contains pectin, which can help lower cholesterol levels and stabilize blood sugar levels. Additionally, crabapple extract is used in some skincare products for its astringent and anti-inflammatory effects.

Magical Correspondences and Uses in Magical Practice of Crabapple

  • Element: Water

  • Planet: Venus

  • Magical Properties: Love, fertility, protection, and abundance.

  • Uses: In magical practices, crabapples are associated with love and fertility due to their sweet fragrance and abundance of flowers and fruit. They are often used in love spells and rituals to attract romance and strengthen relationships. The tree's thorny branches symbolize protection and are used in rituals to create barriers against negative energy or unwanted influences. Crabapples are also associated with abundance and prosperity, particularly when harvested during the autumn months and used in seasonal celebrations and offerings.

Folklore, Legends, and Mythology of Crabapple

  • Historical Context: Crabapples have a long history of cultivation and use in Europe and Asia. They were valued by ancient civilizations for their hardy nature and versatile applications in cooking and medicine.

  • Folklore: In European folklore, crabapples were believed to have magical properties and were often associated with fairies and other mythical beings. It was said that leaving crabapples in gardens or orchards could attract fairies and bring good luck to the household. Additionally, crabapple branches were sometimes used in rituals to protect against witchcraft and evil spirits.

  • Mythology: In Celtic mythology, the crabapple tree was associated with the goddess Brigid, who was revered as a symbol of fertility, healing, and craftsmanship. The tree's white flowers were seen as manifestations of her divine presence, and offerings of crabapple blossoms were made in her honor during springtime festivals.

Historical Literary Sources

  • Pliny the Elder’s "Natural History": Pliny discusses the cultivation and uses of crabapples in ancient Rome, highlighting their culinary and medicinal applications.

  • John Evelyn’s "Sylva, or A Discourse of Forest-Trees and the Propagation of Timber" (1664): Evelyn provides insights into the cultivation and management of crabapple trees in English gardens, reflecting their popularity as ornamental and fruit-bearing trees.


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