Plum-leaved Crabapple - Malus prunifolia
An abundant flower & fruit producing crab reaching 25 feet with excellent disease resistance [1]
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Plum-leaved Crabapple blossoms
I consider the crabapple collection at The Morton to be one of the most beautiful, colorful places on Earth during springtime. If you live anywhere near Chicago, you absolutely must see these trees in bloom. Yes, the cherry trees around the tidal basin in Washington D.C. are magnificent, but they are of only one variety and color (not to look a gift horse in the mouth), they can't hold a candle to the riot of red, pink, purple, white and seemingly every shade in between. It's good for the soul.

I would advise to consult the arboretum on blooming progress before planning your trip. With our recent warmest-ever March (2012), many trees bloomed 3-4 weeks earlier than usual. Of course, the crabs don't all bloom at the same time, but there is enough overlap that if timed correctly, you can see 80% of the trees near their peak at one visit. --and don't forget the flowering trees section on the west side!

Some of the specimens in this collection are almost large enough to be considered shade trees, while others are quite small. There is a great variety of shape as well, from wide to upright and narrow, weeping, and multi-stemmed. There is variety in flower color, ranging from white to pink, red, purple, and crimson. Some flower buds will be one color, and then open up to a completely different color! Fruits range in size from smaller than a pea, to nearly the size of most apples; they can be red, purple, orange, yellow, or green. Some of the smaller fruits persist on the tree throughout winter, providing a splash of color in the cold months. [1]

Plum-leaved Crabapple
Plum-leaved Crabapple is 21 years old [2]
Disease resistance should be your primary consideration. Many resistant cultivars are available and recommended in order to avoid the most common disease problems. Before making a selection, keep in mind that not all crabapples do well in every location. Disease intensity varies from region to region, and disease strength can vary from year to year. For instance, some crabapples will be more prone to disease susceptibility in areas with greater rainfall than in drier climates. Careful consideration of the following information will be helpful in choosing the right crabapple cultivar. There are four diseases that seriously affect crabapple:

Apple scab is one of the most serious diseases from an aesthetic standpoint, but usually not a serious threat to the health of the tree. It is a fungal disease, which develops in cool, wet springs. On susceptible crabapples, apple scab causes spotting of the leaves, premature defoliation, and unsightly spots on the fruit. There are numerous cultivars that are resistant or very tolerant, and red peacock should fit the bill.
References
  1. Morton Arboretum, Crabapple: A Tree For All Seasons
  2. Plum-leaved Crabapple, Morton Arboretum acc. 246-88*1, photos: Bruce J. Marlin
  3. Morton Arboretum, Crabapples for the Home Landscape
  4. Morton Arboretum, Plant Health Care Report, Issue 2009.07, May 22- May 28, 2009
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Family Rosaceae - Rose Family; Fruit Trees
Containing Hawthorns, Apples, Pears, Cherries, Plums, Peach, Almond, Mountain-Ash and Whitebeam. Rosaceae is a large family of plants with about 3,000 species in ~100 genera. Crabapple and other fruit trees provide some of our most outstanding flowering ornamentals, as well as food for birds and other wildlife.
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