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Roberts Crab

Roberts Crab is an unusual crab-apple, grown both for its attractive ornamental qualities, and for culinary uses.

The abundant spring blossom is dark pink, and the leaves have a bronze tint.

Ripening in late summer, the crab-apples have an unusual dark purple colour. They are also very large - the size of small apples.

The main attraction in the kitchen is that the purple fruits have a rich red flesh, making Roberts Crab an excellent variety for crab-apple jams and jellies.

The red flesh also contains anthocynanin compounds, which may have anti-oxidant qualities. A 2009 study by researchers at USDA found Roberts Crab to have particularly high levels of Cyanidin-3-0-galactoside.

The juice is a dark red claret colour, which is darker than that of other red-fleshed crab-apples. The juice flavour is sharp and crab-like, and can be used in cider blends.

Roberts Crab crab-apple trees for sale

  • 11-year bare-root tree £25.00
    Medium size (2.5m-3.5m after 10 years)
  • 22-year pot-grown tree £44.50
    In a 12L pot
    Medium size (2.5m-3.5m after 10 years)
Next deliveries

Deliveries from 28th September for pot grown and December for bare-rooted (where items shown in stock).


How to grow

This variety is not likely to be as good for pollinating mainstream apple varieties as white-blossomed crab-apple varieties.

Roberts Crab is very precocious, and is likely to blossom and fruit the first season after planting. It grows with an attractive upright spreading form and is reasonably vigorous.

History

Roberts Crab is also known as Roberts Red. Although now grown primarily as a crab-apple, it seems to have been originally raised as a cider apple.

This variety is also sometimes marketed as Dr Campbell, in honour of Dr Ian Campbell, a scientist at the famous Long Ashton Research Station near Bristol, who was involved in important developments in virus-free rootstocks for apple trees and crab-apples.

Roberts Crab characteristics

  • Gardening skillBeginner
  • Attractive featuresAttractive flowersAttractive fruit
  • Height after 10 years3m-5m / 10ft-16ft
  • Flower colourPink - dark
  • Flower formSingle flower (5-8 petals)
  • Flowering monthApril
  • Leaf colourBronze
  • Leaf colour - autumnBronze / Purple
  • Fruit colourPurple
  • Fruit sizeVery large
  • Fruit persistenceNormal ripening
  • Food usesJam / Jelly
  • Country of originUnited Kingdom
  • Annual cycleDeciduous

Similar varieties

  • See also Harry Baker
    Malus
    Harry Baker
    Malus Harry Baker is a popular crab-apple with deep pink flowers and dark red fruits which are very good for crab-apple jelly.
  • See also Royalty
    Malus pumila
    Royalty
    Malus Royalty has bright purple-red blossom, dark green-bronze leaves, and dark red fruitlets.

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.