Does the Prairie Fire crabapple tree require cross pollination to survive?

I have heard from numerous sources that if we don't plant another (different) crabapple tree next to it, it will die. However, from everything I have researched so far, it doesn't seem like this would require cross pollination.

If it doesn't require cross pollination, is it considered self pollinated?


1 Answer 1


There seems to be a bit of confusion going on here. As you've discovered, Malus varieties, of which your crabapple is one, vary as to whether they're self pollinating or require another pollinator nearby, but the purpose of pollination is for fertilization of the flowers if you want fruit. Without fertilization, the flowers fade, as they usually do, but without forming any fruit. This particularly matters if the Malus you are growing is actually an apple, grown only for its fruit - many of those require cross pollination to crop, but this is not true of crab apples, yours should produce fruit all on its own. There are a few varieties of crab apple which are sterile, that is, they never produce fruit, but the one you mention isn't one of those.

Even a variety of Malus which requires cross pollination certainly does not die without it - it will continue to flower year on year and be healthy, barring other infestations, infections or disease, just not producing fruit.

UPDATED ANSWER: You've added questions in a comment below:-

This particular tree will pollinate itself without any help from you (though bees and air movement do play a role). Pollination does not increase the length of time the flowers are present - in fact, once fertilization has taken place, the flowers may fade slightly more quickly, since their purpose has been served.

  • Just to clarify, is the Prairie fire self pollinating? The Prairie Fire does produce small (3/8 to 1/2) red fruit. Does self pollinating mean it does not require pollination from a separate tree but still requires insects/birds/etc to help pollinate itself or does it mean that it will pollinate itself without help? Lastly, does pollination increase the length at which the flowers remain? Sorry to add more questions - I can update the question if needed as well.
    – Kalel Wade
    Commented May 19, 2015 at 15:29
  • @KalelWade - see updated answer
    – Bamboo
    Commented May 19, 2015 at 16:06
  • 1
    Excellent answers! I'll just add that even if this weren't a self-pollinating variety, many urban/suburban areas have a wealth of crab apples so lack of pollinators is rarely a problem.
    – michelle
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 13:02
  • 1
    @michelle Yes - but apart from a very few sterile, non fruiting varieties, all crabapples are self pollinating - its the other Malus, apples, that often aren't. Crabapples are often used as a pollinator for apples.
    – Bamboo
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 19:35

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