Malus hupehensis Cardinal

  • Flower colour: Pink - dark
  • Leaf colour: Bronze
  • Growth habit: Spreading
  • Fruit colour: Red - dark

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.

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 trees for sale

Deliveries from week commencing 25th November 2019 (or December for bare-root).

Height in 10 years
Price inc. VAT
1-year Cardinal tree - bare root
2.5m-3.5m tall after 10 years
2-year Cardinal tree - in a 12L pot
2.5m-3.5m tall after 10 years

What will it look like?

Illustrative example of a pot-grown tree of this variety as supplied. (Approx. girth: 6/8). Trees should reach their mature height after about 10 or more years.

Malus Cardinal crab apple tree

We may also have 1-year bare-root trees of this variety - they are not shown here.

Leaves may not be present during winter, and we may prune some shoots to fit the delivery carton. Size may vary during the season and between batches. The container (if supplied) is only used for transporting the tree, which should then be planted out in the garden or in a much larger patio planter (not all species are suitable for patio planting).

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.

Cardinal characteristics


  • Attractive features: Attractive flowers Attractive tree / plant Autumn foliage colour Scented flowers
  • Height 10 years: 3m-5m / 10ft-16ft
  • Growth habit: Spreading
  • Growth rate: Average
  • Vigour: Average vigour
  • Useful for: Open spaces
  • Blossom duration: Long
  • Disease resistance: Good
  • Self-fertility: Partially self-fertile
  • Gardening skill: Suitable for beginners


  • Country of origin: United States
  • Flowering month: April
  • Flower colour: Pink - dark
  • Flower form: Single flower (5-8 petals)
  • Flower size: Large
  • Leaf colour: Bronze
  • Leaf colour - young: Dark bronze
  • Leaf colour - autumn: Orange / Red
  • Fruit colour: Red - dark
  • Fruit size: Small
  • Annual cycle: Deciduous
  • Awards: RHS Award of Garden Merit


  • Fruit persistence: Ripens over a period
  • Wildlife: RHS perfect for pollinators Attractive to birds

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.

How to choose a crab-apple tree

We have a very wide range of 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.

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