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The Callaway Crabapple Tree

The Callaway crabapple tree is a natural dwarf variety that produces beautiful white flowers in the spring. The flowers transform into vibrant cherry red fruits with various uses.

This natural dwarf is a hardy variety of edible crabapples cultivated to thrive in the deep South.

Close up of the fruit of a Gallaway Crab apple tree (Malus Callaway) in late summer

Characteristics of the Callaway Crabapple Tree


This strikingly beautiful tree has clusters of snow-white blossoms covering it during the spring, which transform into an abundance of small, sparkling red fruits in the fall.

This deciduous tree typically grows up to twenty-five feet tall, boasting deep green leaves up to three inches long.

The fruit produced by the Callaway crabapple tree is one inch in size and holds tight to the tree during its early growth. After it has matured, usually around October to November, the crabapples drop free from the branches.


Callaway crabapples taste bitter when consumed raw, so they are best used in cooked recipes, such as jellies, jams, butter, etcetera.


Crabapples originated from Europe, Asia, and North America. Since their beginning, cultivators have been breeding different varieties of crabapples to withstand different climates.

The Callaway crabapple tree was bred in 1954 by Fred Galle, who was head of a horticultural department at Callaway Garden in Georgia.

Galle was interested in breeding a variety of crabapples that could thrive in the deep South, which led to his creation of a breeding program at the Gardens. This variety has also been referred to as ‘Ida Cason.’

The crabapple tree was used in remedies in ancient history, used to treat skin or digestive issues. It was also used to induce labor and quicken the birth process.


Callaway crabapples can be enjoyed when using them in various cooked recipes. Because of their bitter taste, they are only sometimes consumed raw, except by wildlife.

During ancient times, crabapples were used to make topical creams that treated skin conditions and irritation.

The bark from a crabapple tree is often burned slowly for the pleasant aroma it releases. If you have a fireplace and want to enjoy the scent these trees put off, add pieces of the bark to your already chopped firewood when throwing it into the fire.

The fruit from these versatile trees can be used to make various sweet treats, from jams and jellies to apple butter.


Slow Cooker Apple Butter

This slow cooker apple butter recipe turns bitter Callaway crabapples into a sweet, buttery spread that tastes phenomenal on toast or a bagel.

Crabapple Pie Filling

This recipe for crabapple pie filling uses Callaway crabapples to create a deliciously sweet pie filling. The pie filling can then be frozen, canned, or used to make a pie immediately.

Crabapple Jelly

Crabapples are great for making jelly or jam because they naturally contain pectin, a thickening agent.

This recipe for crabapple jelly is quick and easy, with the sour flavor of the fruit blending perfectly with the sugar to create a balanced dessert or breakfast spread.

Spiced Pickled Crabapples

Spiced and pickled crabapples are a tasty addition to certain meats, like pulled pork or poultry. The crabapples in this recipe can be canned for a longer shelf life.

Health Benefits

Callaway crabapples contain many of the same nutrients as regular-sized apples on a much smaller scale.

These fruits are an excellent source of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that strengthens the immune system and protects your body against harmful free radicals. It prevents heart disease and some cancers caused by these free radicals.

Vitamin C also helps the body absorb iron and promotes healthy vision by helping prevent or slow the development of macular degeneration, an age-related eye condition.

Crabapples also contain low levels of manganese, iron, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium.

Pectin, a naturally occurring thickening agent in crabapples, is a pre-biotic that helps regulate the immune system and promote a healthy digestive system.

Growing Your Own

Flowering white crabapple tree in front of a pink crabapple tree, both in full bloom in residential setting.

The Callaway crabapple tree is a hardy, disease-resistant variety bred to thrive in hotter climates, like the deep south. This bushy, deciduous tree can grow up to twenty-five feet tall and twenty feet wide.

This variety does not need a lot of water to thrive, making it a low-maintenance tree to plant in your home garden.

Callaway crabapples are self-fertilizing trees and do not require pollination.

How to Plant

Plant Callaway crabapple trees in the late spring or early fall for the best results. They are ideal for a small to medium-sized garden or yard. Often

This tree needs to be planted in moist, well-drained organic soil amended with compost and natural mulch, with a pH between 5.8 and 7. Compost helps provide necessary nutrients to the soil, and mulch will keep the roots cool and moist during summer temperatures.

Crabapples require direct sunlight for at least six hours per day, so place your tree somewhere it will receive adequate sunlight.

They should be spaced around twenty feet apart so each tree’s root system has space to establish and spread. It is recommended to avoid planting a crabapple tree near a structure or other large trees so they have enough space to branch out and thrive.

To plant your Callaway crabapple tree, gently loosen the root ball and use amendments like peat moss to keep the soil slightly acidic.

The hole you dig to place your tree in should be twice the size of the tree’s root ball. Water the site very well during the first few weeks. Once the tree is established, it will only need to be watered if the rainfall in your area is low.

While they are drought-resistant trees, they may require watering if it has been an exceptionally dry season. As a general rule, the tree should be watered once per week, providing no more than one inch of water to the base of the tree.

If you are experiencing heavy rainfalls that may negatively impact your tree, you can place a tarp over the tree’s roots to keep the soil from getting too waterlogged and soggy.


Crabapple trees are bushy and wild, so they may occasionally require pruning to remove dead limbs and promote healthy growth. Dead leaves should be cut as close to the trunk as possible.

Pruning removes dead parts of the tree that hinder its growth, allowing your Callaway crabapple tree to thrive and produce high fruit yields.

When pruning a crabapple tree, focus mainly on the structure of the main branches. Remove some of the smaller branches to encourage healthy development.

Pruning should be done in dry weather conditions during late winter, or if you live in a colder zone, prune the tree during the summer.

Pests and Diseases

There are a few pests and diseases that are a concern for crabapple trees.

The Callaway crabapple tree variety is the most disease-resistant variety in the south.

It is resistant to fire blight, a deadly disease that attacks apple trees, in addition to scab, leaf spot, and powdery mildew. This variety is fantastic for growing in the south, where humidity is generally high. These issues can usually be treated with a fungicide spray.

Common pests that target crabapple trees are aphids, spider mites, borers, and Japanese beetles. These can be rinsed away, but if rinsing does not do the trick, you can use neem oil to spray onto the leaves.

Wrapping Up the Callaway Crabapple

If you want a small but gorgeous addition to your home garden, the Callaway crabapple tree is the one for you! It is easy to grow and maintain, requiring little aftercare once established.

Do you want to learn all about the different varieties of crabapple trees and their purposes? Check out the crabapple tree page on our website for information!