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The Firebird Crabapple Tree

The Firebird Crabapple Tree was a unique tree developed in the United States. Its name is a nod to the incredible fire-red color the fruit turns to in winter, attracting many types of animals to your yard.

If you’re looking for a boost to your curb appeal or you’re an avid animal watcher, this tree is for you. Continue reading to learn about the history of the Firebird Crabapple Tree, ways to use the flowers, and how to plant and care for one of your own.

Looking for a Firebird Crabapple Tree? Check availability.

Firebird Crabapple tree in front yard in Utah Valley

Characteristics of the Firebird Crabapple

The Firebird Crabapple is about eight feet tall and ten feet wide at full maturity. This smaller profile makes it the perfect shrub-like tree that is often used as a screen from neighboring houses.

Changing with the seasons, the Firebird Crabapple has dark green foliage, which is later accompanied by white flowers in the spring that turn to bright red fruit in the fall.

History of the Firebird Crabapple Tree

White Crabapple Tree similar to the starlite crabapple tree in Full Bloom in Springtime

The Firebird Crabapple originated in 1980 by a man named Michael Yanny at Johnson’s Nursery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Michael was in search of a tree that was disease resistant and showed superior fruit qualities over other crabapple varieties.

Why is it Called a Crabapple?

There are many theories about why crabapples are called the way they are. Some believe that they are called crabapples because they make your stomach feel as if it’s getting pinched by a crab if you eat too many crabapples. Others say it’s because they look like small crabs hanging in the tree.

The term crabapple dates all the way back to the 15th century. While we aren’t certain of the reasoning behind the name crabapple, many agree the theory that makes the most sense is that the sourness of the crabapple is a reminder of a grouchy or “crabby” person, and so came the name crabapple.

Ways to Use Your Crabapple Tree

Crabapples are common trees for animal watchers to have in their yards. The bright red fruit in the fall and winter months catch the attention of squirrels, deer, and many birds. It’s common to see a congregation of animals feasting under the tree.

Firebird Crabapple trees are also a great, low-maintenance way to boost your home’s curb appeal. Their smaller features won’t overtake the other landscaping you might have. Their drastic change with the seasons adds for a fun addition to your decor.

Are Firebird Crabapples Safe to Eat?

While Firebird Crabapples look like every other crabapple out there, they are not fit for human consumption. Thankfully, that doesn’t stop the birds and wildlife from gathering under its wide shade to enjoy the fruit.

Many other types of crabapple varieties are edible. Check out our extensive Crabapple Tree Varieties list to find one that fulfills your wish list.

Eating the Blossoms

You can do many things with the blossoms of a crabapple tree. Their beautiful spring colors make them fun to decorate and cook with.

They can be used as beautiful decorative additions to any dish or cake. It is important to note that inchworms love these blossoms, so you’ll want to clean them to make sure nothing is hiding within the petals.

Crabapple Blossom Simple Syrup is an easy recipe for your favorite tea or sparkling water.

Savoring springtime during the winter months is easy to do with this Apple Blossom Jelly recipe. Its floral flavor is a welcome addition to warm biscuits when the snow is falling outside.

Learn to Grow Your Own Firebird Crabapple Tree

crabapple tree similar to the marilee crabapple

The Firebird Crabapple Tree is an excellent tree to plant for an aspiring arborist. They are low maintenance and disease resistant, making them a favorite in landscape design nationwide.

Grow Zone and Soil Type

Crabapple trees grow best in zone 4-8. They grow well in most slightly acidic soil types as long as adequate drainage is in place.


The best time to plant a crabapple tree is in the spring or fall. When choosing where you want to plant your tree, remember they need 6 hours of sunlight each day.

When you prepare the hole for your tree, you’ll need to be sure it’s 2-3 times bigger than the actual root ball. Once planted, your tree must only be watered about once a week until it’s established.

For an in-depth guide on planting a crabapple tree, check out our tutorial on How to Plant a Crabapple Tree.


Because the Firebird Crabapple is slow growing, there isn’t a lot of pruning required. You’ll need to watch for “suckers,” which are small shoots of branches that are growing out of the base of the tree. When you see these, you’ll want to cut them off so your tree grows straight and strong.

If you have a larger tree and feel it would benefit from good pruning, take a glance at our How to Prune a Crabapple Tree page.

A great advantage to owning a Firebird Crabapple Tree is that it’s very disease resistant to common crabapple diseases such as scab and cedar apple rust.

Bookmark our Crabapple Tree Diseases page for a full list of diseases and what to look for to be prepared if your tree has issues later down the road.

Where to Buy

The Firebird Crabapple Tree is hard to come by. Chances are you won’t find it at a big box retailer, so shopping online may be your best bet.

We recommend the selection of crabapple trees offered by one of our favorite retailers, Stark Bros. Check their page often to see if they add the Firebird Crabapple Tree to their inventory.

Frequently Asked Questions

This post is full of information on the Firebird Crabapple Tree. But you may have more questions, here are a few FAQs for more information.

Do you need two crabapple trees to produce fruit?

Just like apple trees, crabapples need a second tree to cross-pollinate and produce fruit.

Interestingly enough, crabapples are such great pollinators. Apple orchard owners have been known to put a bucket of water with a flowering crabapple branch in the middle of their orchards to help pollinate their apple trees.

Which birds especially love crabapples?

Firebird Crabapples are a bright red, fire color and draw birds of all kinds in the middle of winter. Cardinals, waxwings, and robins are especially drawn to this spectacular tree.

Are crabapples safe around pets?

While the tree is safe to have around your pets if ingested, it can harm horses, dogs, and cats.

Wrapping Up the Firebird Crabapple Tree

The Firebird Crabapple tree is a beautiful spectacle no matter the season. Its stout features make it a versatile addition to your landscape, and the wildlife around you will thank you for planting it!

Suppose you aren’t completely sold on the Firebird Crabapple Tree and are interested in learning about other varieties and the benefits of owning each one; our Crabapple Trees page is an excellent resource!