It's hard to pin down the best thing about Malus Butterball. It is a great wildlife attractant. Bees and other pollinators adore the clouds of spring blossom, which is a delicate pink in bud, opening to pure white, and the crabs which are a rich yellow - blushing red in a sunny spot - usually ripen in October are a great food source for all kinds of birds. Butterball is also self-fertile, producing up to 10 times the amount of pollen of an ordinary apple tree. Of course the same applies to most of the rest of our range of crab apple trees for sale. The fruit makes a wonderful, zingy bright jelly too, just the ticket with a Sunday roast. Or try your hand at crab apple liqueur with vodka and sugar.
As a tree, Butterball is spreading and slightly drooping, especially under the weight of its fruit in autumn. As a standard, it will grow to 6 metres or so in height while half standards can be kept to 3.5-4 metres making them ideal if your garden is on the small side.
Planting and design
Give Butterball a little space as it makes a good focal point. Give it pride of place, so it can be seen and admired, whether covered in flowers in spring or with the branches dripping with fruit in autumn. So don't hide it away. Crab apples aren't too fussy about soil or sunlight really, as long as it's fairly free draining, although the sunnier the spot the redder the fruit. Butterball will fit right in with a cottage garden scheme, with its pretty blossom, hanging branches and relaxed habit. Underplant with a few spring bulbs if you feel inclined, something cottagey like crocuses, daffodils or bluebells for a relaxed, naturalistic feel.
In some south-east Asian countries crab apples are used as a sour condiment, with shrimp paste, chilli and salt. But Butterball does make fantastic crab apple jelly.