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Malus hupehensis
Cardinal has received the RHS Award of Garden MeritCardinal is listed in the RHS Plants for Pollinators

Malus 'Cardinal' (or 'Princeton Cardinal') is named for its intense purple-pink flowers which are borne in great profusion in April - the tree can appear to be almost drowning under the weight of blossom.

In autumn the tree is covered in tiny dark red fruitlets, which persist on the tree into early winter. In good autumn weather (sunny days and cold nights) the leaves will take on red hues.

Like many pink-flowered crab-apples the leaves are also a deep bronze colour in the spring, lightening to bronze-tinged green over the summer, and taking on some orange colour in the autumn.

Cardinal crab-apple trees for sale

  • 11-year bare-root tree £36.75
    Medium size (2.5m-3.5m after 10 years)
  • 22-year pot-grown tree £61.00
    In a 12L pot
    Medium size (2.5m-3.5m after 10 years)
You can now pre-order for next season.

How to grow

Malus Cardinal is very cold-hardy.

It is also one of the most disease-resistant of the bronze-leaved crab-apples, with good resistance to scab and mildew.

It grows with an attractive upright habit which soon becomes spreading and flat-topped, and makes a pleasing sight in the landscape.

The bronze colouration of the leaves becomes more apparent as the tree gets older.


Malus Cardinal is also widely known as 'Princeton Cardinal', having been developed at Princeton, New Jersey.

Although usually considered to belong to the species Malus hupehensis, it actually has a mixed parentage, being a cross of Malus 'Strawberry Parfait' (Malus hupehensis) and Malus 'Crimson Cloud' (Malus baccata x Malus 'Almey'). Most forms of Malus hupehensis have white blossom and green leaves, so Malus Cardinal is quite different in this respect. However it retains the characteristic flat-topped spreading shape of the species.

Cardinal characteristics

  • Gardening skillBeginner
  • AwardsRHS AGM (current) - 2012
  • Attractive featuresAttractive flowersAttractive tree / plantAutumn foliage colourScented flowers
  • Growth habitSpreading / Flat-topped
  • Height after 10 years3m-5m / 10ft-16ft
  • Growth rateAverage
  • WildlifeAttractive to birdsRHS Plants for Pollinators
  • Flower colourPink - dark
  • Flower formSingle flower (5-8 petals)
  • Flowering monthApril
  • Leaf colourBronze
  • Leaf colour - autumnOrange / Red
  • Fruit colourRed - dark
  • Fruit sizeSmall
  • Fruit persistenceRipens over a period
  • Country of originUnited States
  • Annual cycleDeciduous

Similar varieties

  • See also Malus hupehensis
    Malus hupehensis
    Malus hupehensis
    A traditional garden crab-apple from China, with white blossom and small red-tinged fruitlets, a good choice as a specimen tree.

What will it look like?

Illustrative example of a pot-grown tree of this variety as supplied. Approximate girth: 6/8cm. We try to keep all pot-grown trees down to about 1.5m as supplied, but some may be larger. Trees should reach their mature height after about 10 or more years. We may also have 1-year bare-root trees of this variety - they are not shown here.

Malus Cardinal crab apple tree

How to choose a crab-apple tree

We list more than 40 different crab-apple trees. Choosing can be difficult! See our article explaining the different characteristics of crab-apple trees which will help you narrow down the selection.