Tea crabapple Malus hupehensis

👤 Non-toxic to humans
🐾 Non-toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
Hupeh crab


The Malus hupehensis, commonly known as the tea crabapple, is a deciduous tree that is known for its ornamental value. The plant is characterized by a profusion of pink buds that open into fragrant white blossoms and are often aligned on the branches like little ballerinas at a recital. These blooms make a dramatic springtime show, usually attracting pollinators such as bees to its flowers. As the season progresses, these flowers give way to small, spherical fruits. These apple-like fruits are initially green and gradually ripen to a reddish color. The skin of the fruit is smooth, with a glossy finish that catches the light, enticing birds and other wildlife. The leaves of the tea crabapple are simple and ovate with serrated edges, creating a lush green backdrop in the summer months. During autumn, the foliage undergoes a spectacular transformation, showcasing a range of colors from yellow to vibrant reds and purples before they fall. The bark of the tree is also of visual interest. It is typically gray and may exhibit an attractive pattern, adding to the winter interest of the tree when the branches are bare. The overall structure of the tea crabapple is pleasing to the eye, with a branching habit that provides a rounded and spreading silhouette. Its form allows it to cast dappled shade beneath its canopy during sunny days. Overall, the tea crabapple’s charming appearance throughout the seasons, from its springtime floral display to its autumnal color and winter silhouette, makes it a beloved choice for gardens and landscapes where its beauty can be fully appreciated.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Hupeh Crab, Tea Crabapple, Chinese Crab Apple, Hubei Crabapple

    • Common names

      Malus hupehensis var. pingyiensis, Malus theifera, Pyrus theifera.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Malus hupehensis, commonly known as the Chinese crabapple, is not typically considered toxic to humans. However, like many plants in the Malus genus, the seeds contain small amounts of amygdalin which can release cyanide when metabolized. Ingesting a significant quantity of the seeds could potentially lead to symptoms of cyanide poisoning. These symptoms might include dizziness, headaches, confusion, nausea, vomiting, and in severe cases, respiratory failure and death. It is important to note that poisoning from the seeds of a Chinese crabapple is rare, as one would need to consume a large amount of seeds to receive a toxic dose.

    • To pets

      Malus hupehensis, known commonly as the Chinese crabapple, is not generally toxic to pets. However, the seeds, like other members of the Malus family, contain amygdalin which can convert into cyanide when digested. If a pet were to ingest a large quantity of the seeds, it might experience cyanide poisoning. The symptoms can include vomiting, difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, spasms, and potentially coma or death. As with humans, a very high volume of seeds would need to be consumed to pose a significant risk. The flesh of the fruit itself is typically safe for pets when consumed in moderation.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      15-25 feet (4.5-7.6 meters)

    • Spread

      15-20 feet (4.5-6 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Ornamental value: Malus hupehensis, commonly known as the Chinese crabapple, adds aesthetic appeal to landscapes with its beautiful blossoms and attractive fruit.
    • Wildlife attraction: The blossoms provide nectar for pollinators like bees, while the fruit can attract birds and other wildlife to a garden.
    • Shade: As a tree, it can offer shade in gardens and parks, creating a cooler microclimate and a place for relaxation.
    • Windbreak: When planted in groups, these trees can act as a windbreak, protecting gardens and buildings from strong winds.
    • Soil stabilization: The root system of Malus hupehensis can help prevent soil erosion, particularly important in sloped areas.
    • Seasonal interest: The tree provides year-round interest with changing seasons—from spring blossoms to summer greenery, autumn fruit, and winter branch structure.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • Antioxidant activity: Components of Malus hupehensis, such as polyphenols, may possess antioxidant properties, potentially helping to mitigate oxidative stress within the body.
    • Anti-inflammatory effects: Extracts from the plant have been studied for their potential to reduce inflammation, which is a common factor in many chronic diseases.
    • Antimicrobial properties: Certain compounds in the fruit and other parts of Malus hupehensis might have antimicrobial activities against various pathogens.
    • Anti-cancer potential: Studies may suggest that phytochemicals present in Malus hupehensis could have anti-cancer properties, although this is not clearly established for clinical use.
    • Cardiovascular benefits: The plant's antioxidants may contribute to heart health by improving circulation and reducing the oxidation of cholesterol.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Rootstock for grafting: Malus hupehensis is often used as a rootstock for grafting other more commercially valuable apple varieties to impart disease resistance and hardiness.
    • Dye production: The bark of the plant can be used to produce a natural dye that might be utilized in the textile industry for coloring fabrics.
    • Wildlife habitat: The tree provides a habitat and food source for various wildlife species, including birds and small mammals that feast on its fruit and find shelter within its branches.
    • Ornamental use: It is widely appreciated for its ornamental value due to its beautiful springtime blossoms and can be used for home and public landscaping.
    • Beekeeping: The tree's blossoms are attractive to bees, making it a good plant for beekeepers to enhance honey production.
    • Erosion control: Malus hupehensis has a robust root system that makes it suitable for planting on slopes or areas prone to erosion to help stabilize the soil.
    • Windbreaks: The trees can be planted in rows to serve as windbreaks on agricultural land, protecting crops from harsh winds.
    • Education and research: Botanical gardens and educational institutions might use this species to teach botany and horticulture, especially in the context of plant propagation and grafting techniques.
    • Cultural and historical studies: The plant may hold cultural significance in certain regions, thus becoming a subject for study by ethnobotanists or cultural historians.
    • Fruit processing experiments: Although the fruit is not commonly consumed, it can be used in experimental processing techniques to create jams, jellies, or other culinary products.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Tea Crabapple is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Tea Crabapple is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Renewal and Rebirth: As a flowering tree, the Chinese Crabapple signifies the coming of spring and is often associated with new beginnings and the renewal of nature.
    • Purity and Peace: With its delicate white blossoms, this plant often symbolizes purity and peace, making it a plant that might be chosen to represent harmonious conditions or intentions.
    • Love and Beauty: The attractive flowers of the Chinese Crabapple make it a symbol of love and beauty, celebrating the aesthetic and romantic aspects of nature.
    • Hope and Aspiration: Blooming in spring, it can also represent hope and aspiration, reflecting the human desire to reach for something beautiful and enduring.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Spring-early summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    The Chinese crabapple should be watered deeply once a week during its growing season, ensuring the soil is moist but not waterlogged. In the absence of rainfall, increase watering to twice a week. Each watering should provide about 1.5 to 2 gallons of water for young trees, and for established trees, the amount should scale up to 4 to 5 gallons depending on the tree size and weather conditions. During the dormant season, reduce watering to every two weeks or less, depending on soil moisture levels.

  • sunLight

    The Chinese crabapple thrives in full sun, so it is best to plant it in a location where it receives at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. These trees can tolerate partial shade, but they produce the best flowers and fruit when placed in an unobstructed sunny spot.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Chinese crabapples are hardy and can tolerate a range of temperatures. They can survive winter lows down to about -20 degrees Fahrenheit and are comfortable in summer highs up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The ideal growing temperature for this plant is between 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal growth and flowering.

  • scissorsPruning

    Pruning the Chinese crabapple is essential for maintaining its shape, encouraging flower and fruit production, and removing any dead or diseased wood. The best time to prune is in late winter or early spring before new growth starts. It should be pruned every year or two, focusing on thinning out crowded branches to allow light and air to penetrate the canopy.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    The best soil mix for the Tea Crabapple should be well-draining and rich in organic matter, with a pH ranging from 6.0 to 7.0. A mixture that includes equal parts of loam, compost, and coarse sand or perlite would create a suitable growing medium.

  • plantRepotting

    Tea Crabapple trees planted in containers may need repotting every 2-3 years to replenish the soil and provide room for growth. Generally, young trees are repotted more frequently than mature ones.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Tea Crabapple trees are adaptable to a range of humidity levels but thrive best with moderate atmospheric moisture. They do not require special humidity conditions and are well suited to outdoor conditions where they can receive natural rainfall.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Ensure full sun, well-draining soil, and infrequent watering for indoor Tea Crabapples.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in full sun, provide well-draining soil, and water deeply but infrequently.

    • Hardiness zone

      6-9 USDA.

  • circleLife cycle

    Malus hupehensis, commonly known as the tea crabapple, begins its life when a seed germinates, usually in the spring. After sprouting, the seedling develops a root system and begins to grow leaves in its juvenile phase. The seedling matures into a sapling and eventually becomes a fruit-bearing adult tree. Each spring, the adult tree flowers, with pink or white blossoms that attract pollinators. Following pollination, the flowers develop into small apple-like fruits in the summer, which contain seeds for the next generation. Once mature, these fruits are dispersed by various means, including animals, completing the cycle as they potentially become the seeds for new tea crabapple trees.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring-early summer

    • The most popular method of propagating Malus hupehensis, commonly known as the Chinese Crabapple, is through grafting. Grafting is usually done in late winter or early spring before the sap starts to flow. Scion wood, which is a piece of last year's growth from a desirable cultivar, is taken and attached to a rootstock, which is a seedling or young tree grown specifically for this purpose. The scion and the rootstock are cut at matching angles and bound tightly with grafting tape to encourage the tissues to grow together. This method allows for the preservation of the selected cultivar's characteristics and usually results in a stronger, more disease-resistant tree. After care includes ensuring the graft union is not buried during planting and protecting the young graft from extreme weather.