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The Velvet Pillar Crabapple Tree

Did you know there’s more than potatoes in Idaho? The state is also known for having an abundance of Velvet Pillar crabapple trees.

The Velvet Pillar is a crabapple tree variety that puts on a picturesque spring show. The tree is known for its gorgeous purplish velvety leaves. It is the perfect addition to home landscapes and public gardens to add a scenic gaze for photographers and admirers.

Read on to learn more about the Velvet Crabapple Tree. Looking to buy the Velvet Crabapple Tree? Well, you might have to go to Idaho to do that.

crabapple similar to the velvet pillar crabapple

Characteristics of the Velvet Pillar Crabapple Tree

The Velvet Pillar crabapple tree has rosy buds that blossom into rosy pink flowers that come in spring. The flowers are small, fragrant, and long-lasting. Perfect for cutting and making a bouquet (but don’t cut them all if you want crabapples).

This tree grows 18 to 20 feet tall at maturity and has a 10 to 12 feet wide spread. It has an upright pyramidal appearance with ascending branches.

Summer brings dark purple velvety leaves. Crimson, and edible red fruits will form in the fall, then the leaves turn burgundy before falling to the ground.

Information about the Velvet Pillar

Its official name is Malus ‘Velvetcole’. The Velvet Pillar is primarily grown in Idaho but can be planted in USDA zones 4-7.

The crabapple tree is associated with love and marriage, so consider getting married under one for good luck.

These trees are a great source of early pollen. They provide ample food for birds and deer in winter if you leave their fruit on the ground.

Ways to Enjoy the Velvet Pillar Crabapple


The Velvet Pillar Crabapple is a beautiful accent tree for any landscape, and its wide foliage will provide plenty of shade for your yard during the summer.

Although some crabapples are not edible, the Velvet Pillars can be enjoyed and are most commonly enjoyed in jellies and ciders. You’re likely to find them too bitter to eat raw.

Wildlife Attraction

The Velvet Pillar crabapple tree not only attracts on-looking people, but it also attracts birds, bees, deer, and more. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the wildlife visitors.

Jelly Recipe

Making crabapple jelly is simple! The easiest and most common method to make jelly is to mix fruit, pectin, acid, and sugar to form a gel.

Pectin naturally occurs in crabapples, and when mixed with sugar, it thickens the gel. Adding extra pectin to crabapple jelly is unnecessary due to its natural occurrence.

Select the perfect crabapples for this recipe by choosing fruit that has no sign of insect damage. The unripe fruit has more pectin and will become thicker, but riper fruit tastes better. To get the best mixture of pectin and flavor, try mixing ¼ under-ripe fruit with ¾ ripe fruit.

Note: You can tell if the fruit is ripe by cutting it and looking at the seeds. The darker brown the seeds, the riper the fruit.

Strain your crabapples, and don’t be too anxious to remove the fruit from the strainer. The best crabapple jelly taste comes after straining the fruit for a few days to allow the pectin to come from the juice.

You may be tempted to double the batch, but the smaller the batch, the easier it will be to work with. Avoid overheating the mixture because too much pectin will destroy the pectin and gel texture.

Use a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature of your jelly. Your perfect jelly stage will be at 220 degrees Fahrenheit if you live at an altitude of fewer than 1000 feet. Learn how to test your jelly and make altitude adjustments if needed.

Cider Recipe

There’s nothing like the taste of warm cider on a cold winter day, and since winter is the perfect time for harvesting the Velvet Pillar crabapple tree, why not make some warm crabapple cider?

All you need is a bunch of crabapples. Wash them and remove the stems, put them in a big pot, and cover them with water, then bring the water to a boil. Simmer until the crabapples are very tender and no longer have their coloring.

Line a strainer with cheesecloth and transfer the crabapples to the strainer. Squeeze all the juice out of the crabapples, then toss the crabapples in your compost bag. Put the liquid back in the pot, add your preferred sweetener, and simmer until the sweeter is dissolved.

Add water if the taste is too strong or simmer longer if it’s not strong enough.

You can serve crabapple cider warm or cold.

Health Benefits of Velvet Pillar Crabapples

Velvet Pillar crabapples are loaded with Vitamin C and antioxidants for your immune system. Not only does apple cider taste great, but it also boosts your immunity to illness.

Pectin acts as a prebiotic for your gut health, so drink your crabapple cider and crabapple jam to keep your digestive system on track.

Growing Your Own Velvet Pillar Crabapples

the purple prince crabapple blossom

As mentioned above, Velvet Pillar crabapples grow best in USDA zones 4-7. You want to avoid growing these in zones eight and above because they are not heat tolerant.

As long as the temperature does not go below -35 degrees Fahrenheit, your Velvet Pillar crabapples will stay healthy through some of the harshest winters.

The best time to plant your Velvet Pillar crabapple tree is mid to late spring. These trees thrive best in soil with a pH range of 5.5 to 7.5. A sand and clay mixture is the best soil type that is normal to moist in wetness.

Full sunlight is required for optimal tree growth. Sections on the south and western sides of buildings are the sunniest, so plant your Velvet Crabapple tree on one of those sides. Learn more about how to plant a crabapple tree.

Read about diseases and problems that can occur with crabapple trees because the Velvet Crabapple tree is not immune to these issues.

Prune your crabapple tree to encourage new growth. Thinning your Velvet Pillar crabapple tree should be done occasionally by removing entire branches at the rear of the trunk. If you’re going to thin your tree, start by removing all diseased and dead wood.

Frequently Asked Questions

A pink Crabapple tree

How long does a Velvet Pillar crabapple tree take to grow to full size?

Crabapple trees typically grow at a rate of 12 to 24 inches per year. A five-gallon potted tree may take three to five years to reach maturity.

Do crabapple trees have deep roots?

Their roots are not invasive, but you should check to ensure your tree won’t interfere with home landscaping or buildings. Their roots are normally the same size as their canopy.

Are Velvet Pillar crabapple trees messy?

They drop fruit in the winter like most crabapple trees, but it’s recommended to leave the fruit so wildlife can access it during the winter. If you, for some reason, don’t want the wildlife in your yard, then you will want to clean it up.

The Perfect Purple Tree

The Velvet Pillar Tree is perfect for your home landscape if you love purple. Not only will you enjoy its landscape accent, but you’ll also have free fruit in the fall and winter. Planting a Velvet Purple tree is a win-win!

Researching the different kinds of crabapple trees? Then head to our crabapples page to learn more about other crabapple tree varieties.