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The Indian Summer Crabapple Tree

The Indian Summer is a crabapple tree variety known for its showy red spring flowers and edible fall red fruit. This tree is popular for its ornamental value to landscapes and its ability to grow in various landscapes, including urban areas.

While the fruit is edible, the crabapples are best for use in preserves rather than eating fresh. Read on to learn all about the Indian Summer crabapple tree and how to preserve its fruit!

Looking to buy the Indian Summer Crabapple Tree? Although this variety can be difficult to find in stock, you can check availability at Stark Bro’s.

crabapple tree similar to the indian crabapple

Characteristics of the Indian Summer Crabapple Tree

The Indian Summer Crabapple tree has three seasons with three different characteristics.

Crimson buds form in early spring that bloom into rosy-red flowers. It will have glossy green leaves in the summer. The leaves will turn orange-red in the fall when small bright red fruits form, about three-fourths an inch in diameter.

The tree is available in dwarf, semi-dwarf, and standard varieties when you can find it in stock. Standard-sized trees reach 15 to 20 feet when mature.

Brief History of the Indian Summer Crabapple Tree

No information could be found about how the Indian Summer crabapple tree got its name. Indian summer is defined as a period of unusually warm, dry weather in late autumn. The tree does have a long season of enjoyment, so perhaps that’s where the inspiration for its name derived.

Ways to Enjoy the Indian Crabapple Tree


Crabapple fruit is best eaten in preserves rather than fresh. This is because the seeds are toxic, so removing them before eating is ideal. Plus, many people find crabapples to be too tart to eat straight, so adding sugar is preferred by many.

Here are a few ideas for preserving your crabapples:


Crabapple leather, aka fruit roll-ups, is a popular dehydrated recipe. The kids will go crazy for this sweet treat. Read the full recipe.

You can also make crabapple chips in an oven or food dehydrator. Wash them well, then cut off the flower and stems. Cut them into circles and use a toothpick to push out the seeds.

Add the apples to combine water, lemon juice, and your preferred sweetener. Soak for ten to fifteen minutes to prevent browning and enhance the flavor.

Dehydrate at 170 degrees for 12 hours in the dehydrator, or use your oven’s lowest setting for the same amount of time.


Canning is a popular choice for preserving crabapples. They make delicious jellies, jams, and more. You can use your canned crabapples in pies, tarts, and other baked goods. Try these recipes:

Spiced Crabapples

Crabapple Jelly

Pickled Crabapples


Freeze crabapples for all-year use in pies, cobblers, and crisps. To prevent discoloration, prepare a solution of one teaspoon of ascorbic acid per four cups of water. Soak the unpeeled crabapples for fifteen minutes, drain, package, seal, label, and place them in the freezer.

Frozen crabapples are best used within three months but may be good for up to six months.


Fermented crabapple cider is a delicious beverage that both hot and cold can enjoy. Crabapples can easily be turned into a delicious fermented beverage without a juicer with a blender or food processor.

Place the whole fruit into the blender or food processor, finely chop the crabapples, then cover with water and sugar. Do not puree the fruit—coarsely chop it. You can also do this by hand.

After they’re chopped, put the fruit in a half-gallon mason jar. Dissolve 1.5 to 2 cups of sugar or honey in six cups of water, then let the water cool to room temperature to prevent the water from killing the crabapple’s natural yeast.

Pour the water mixture over the apples, and, if necessary, add more water to fill to the top. Place a Fermentation Glass Weight on top of the jar. Cap your mason jar with an airlock, and keep your jars out of direct sunlight until fermentation stops.

The fermentation process could take four to five days or up to two weeks, depending on the temperature. After the process is complete, discard the fruit chunks and enjoy!


The Indian Summer crabapple tree is a beautiful ornamental tree, especially in spring when the flowers bloom. Its disease-resistance nature makes it an excellent accent for small gardens, beds, and borders.


This is a popular choice for urban landscapes. It’s perfect for city courtyards, cottages, and traditional gardens. It gives off year-round curb appeal and attracts a variety of wildlife.

Health Benefits of the Indian Summer Crabapples

Crabapples are a great source of vitamin C, an essential antioxidant that helps your body fight against colds and diseases. Vitamin C also helps lower blood pressure, protect against gout, improve iron absorption, and reduce dementia and heart disease risks.

The fruit also contains pectin, which is a vegan-friendly fiber soluble. It’s believed to help lower cholesterol and aid in digestion.

Learn to Grow Indian Summer Crabapple Trees

crabapple tree similar to the indian summer crabapple

The Indian Summer Crabapple tree is a fantastic choice for first-time tree growers. Its disease-resistance and drought-tolerant nature (once established) makes it an easy, low-maintenance tree.

The best USDA Zones for growing Indian Crabapple Trees are zones 4 through 8.

Crabapple trees grow best in plenty of sunshine. The south side of the building typically receives the most sun, so consider planting your Indian Summer crabapple tree on the south side of your house.

Moderately fertile, well-drained soil is preferred. Keep the tree well-watered for the first couple of years until it is established, which is when it becomes drought resistant. Read these tips before planting your new crabapple tree.

Minimal pruning is required in late winter. Avoid pruning in the springtime because pruning them just as they are ready to start growing can cause slow growth, damage, or cost them to lose their flowers.

Read up on crabapple tree diseases to keep your tree healthy. Although the Indian Summer crabapple tree is disease resistant, it can be vulnerable to common crabapple diseases.

Where to Buy Indian Summer Crabapples

Flowering Crabapple 'Red Jade' (Malus x hybrida)


This variety can be difficult to find in stock. You can check availability at Stark Brother’s Nurseries and your local orchards, both of which are sure to have them in stock at some point.


You can buy homemade crabapple jelly on Etsy made from Arkansas crabapple trees.

Frequently Asked Questions

How winter hardy is the Indian Summer Crabapple?

The Indian Summer Crabapple tree, like most crabapple trees, needs a dormant period of 45 degrees or lower, so it is not a great choice for warm temperatures. It thrives best in zones 4 to 8, with some cultivators successfully growing it in zone 3, meaning it is fairly cold and hardy.

How heat tolerant is the Indian Summer Crabapple tree?

Once the tree is established, it is drought tolerant, though, as mentioned above, the Indian Summer prefers a dormant season. It may not survive its early years in too hot of temperatures.

Why should I choose the Indian Summer Crabapple tree over other varieties?

The Indian Summer Crabapple tree is extravagant and showy! If you’re attracted to rose-red spring flowers and red fruit, this tree complements your landscape. It’s also disease-resistant, especially to apple scabs, cedar apple rust, and fire blight.

Wrapping up the Indian Crabapple Tree

Even though its history is unknown, the Indian Summer Crabapple Tree appeals to everyone—human and animal—all year round.

Are you researching crabapple trees to add to your yard? Visit our Crabapple Page to read about other varieties.