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Roberts Red crab apple trees

Malus domestica

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 Red crab apple trees for sale

Pot-grown

All pot-grown trees are suitable for planting out in the garden, some are suitable for growing in containers.

  • PG12-year 12L pot-grown tree Semi-vigorous rootstock £44.50
    Large tree (3m-4m after 10 years)

Bare-root

  • BR11-year bare-root tree Semi-vigorous rootstock £24.95
    Large tree (3m-4m after 10 years)

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.

Advice on fruit tree pollination.

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 Red characteristics

Using

  • Picking monthSeptember
  • CroppingHeavy
  • Picking seasonMid
  • Keeping (of fruit)2-3 weeks
  • Fruit persistenceNormal ripening
  • Flavour qualityAverage
  • Food usesCulinaryJuiceHard cider
  • Juice styleSharper

Growing

  • Gardening skillBeginner
  • Self-fertilitySelf-fertile
  • Flowering group2
  • Pollinating othersAverage
  • VigourAverage vigour
  • PrecocityPrecocious
  • Fruit bearingSpur-bearer

Problems

    Climate

    • Climate suitabilityTemperate climatesMild damp climates
    • Cold-hardinessCold-hardy

    Identification

    • Country of originUnited Kingdom
    • Period of origin1950 - 1999
    • Flowering monthApril
    • Flower colourPink - dark
    • Flower formSingle flower (5-8 petals)
    • Leaf colourBronze
    • Leaf colour - autumnBronze / Purple
    • Flesh colourPink / Red
    • Fruit colourPurple
    • Fruit sizeVery large