Michigan State Flower - Apple Blossom

Apple blossoms only last for about a week.

Apple blossoms only last for about a week.

Mid to late spring is apple blossom time in Michigan. Since Michigan is home to 8.5 million apple trees, it’s a sight to see when they’re all in bloom -- the reason, no doubt that the apple blossom is the state's official flower. If you’d like to plan a trip to Michigan during apple blossom time, the best time to go is in May. Michigan’s apple belt runs from the southwest corner of the state to Traverse City in the north.

Facts

Of Michigan’s 83 counties, 36 are not host to the apple blossom. This still leaves a wide swath of the state in which one can find the native sweet crabapple. The tree is semi-weeping and deciduous. It grows to 30 feet in height with an equal spread. Flower buds are bright pink, providing a striking contrast with the light pink open blossoms. The native crabapples are small -- the size of a large cherry.

History

It was a chilly February day in 1897 when William Harris proposed legislation that would name the apple blossom Michigan’s official state flower. His proposal included the reasons he put forth the apple blossom: It adds beauty to Michigan’s landscape, and Michigan apples, at that time, were famous all over the world. Although it was noted in the legislation that the sweet crabapple (Malus coronaria) is native to Michigan, it is not specifically named as the state flower. Most residents, however, assume that the sweet crabapple is Michigan’s state flower.

Cultivation Notes

Native plants are typically not prone to many diseases and pests. The sweet crabapple, alas, is. Susceptible to rust, experts at the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay recommend that you plant the tree at least 500 feet from cedars to avoid cedar apple rust. The tree is also prone to fire blight, a bacterial disease, so apply fertilizer sparingly and prune lightly. The sweet crabapple tree has thorny twigs, so wear heavy gloves when working with it.

Uses

Malus coronaria’s nickname – the sweet crabapple – belies the flavor of its fruit. The taste is bitter, and the fruit requires lots of sugar if made into jelly, a common way to use it. Other sweet crabapple recipes, handed down in Michigan families, include crabapple pickles and crabapple bread. Michigan’s native American tribes mashed the sweet crabapples and formed them into a bread which they dried and saved for times when food supplies ran low.

References & Resources



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Photo Credits

  • apple blossom image by jenny from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

 


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