The Crab Apple Tree

The crab apple tree, official name being Malus sylvestris, is a native apple to the UK. Infact, it’s an important species of apple being that it’s the great ancestor of which all apples descended from.

Crab apples are full of antioxidants, vitamins (C) and fibre, as they say “eat an apple a day to keep the doctor away”. However the crab apple has a bitter/sour taste to it and it’s not advised to eat it raw but traditionally these apples are used to make jams + sauces. It was also cooked and paired with meats, aswell as being used to make ales, ciders and mead.

The wood of the crab apple tree is sweetly scented, not only was it used for firewood with an extra flare for it’s scent but also hung up by the hearth, as a way to gently scent the home. Yellow dye was also extracted from the wood in aid of dying wool and other linens too.

The crab apple tree is one of the only apple trees that has thorns too! There are many variants of crab apple trees world wide.

In folklore, crab apples here in the UK have a long history. It’s believed that the celtic tribes would have used crab apple tree wood in love + fertility rituals and that druids would have made their Staffs from either yew wood or crab apple wood.

Its said that if you whisper the name of your lover into the pips + whilst throwing the crab apple pips onto the fire, if that name was your one true love, then the pips would explode within the fire.

Traditionally, the figure of death was seen holding an apple, this is something that was not only within UK folkloric belief but in many other cultures too.

The crab apple tree is one of the sacred trees to the Fair Folk, as well as that of the Hawthorn tree. And it was said that if you cut down a healthy crab apple tree (felling), that it would bring bad luck to your land and home.

When harvesting crab apples, the tradition of wassailing around the 12th night would take place. This involved people gathering around a crab apple tree (pref in an orchid) and would pour cider over the roots and then bread or toast that is soaked in cider, is placed into the tree’s branches as an offering to the Robins, followed by a wassail traditional song being sung. Afterwards, shot guns would be fired up into the branches area, as an act to scare away + ward off from evil spirits, to ensure a good harvest to come.

Another tradition is when harvesting crab apples, between the months of September and October, people would leave the last apple on a tree in respects to the spirits of said tree. Again this was done to ensure a rich harvest the following year.

Cutting an apple in half, you are greeted by a pattern from the core + pips, of a star, more so a 5 pointed pentagram. This is why people believed that apples were derived from witches or related to and sometimes at a push, cursed by.

There are many uses for crab apples within folkmagic and witchcraft, some of those bring that of the following magics:








And on a final note, crab apples are a fruit that is used within the tradition of dumb suppers during Samhain. An apple is place out as an offering to our ancestors during the eve of Samhain and after this date, it was then left out in the garden or woods or just nature in general.

Crab apples are a interesting fruit within our native folkloric practices but pretty much all apple lore derives from crab apples.