Malus 'Pristine', blossom by NadiatalentPhoto by Nadiatalent

Fast Facts

  • Proclaimed Michigan’s state flower in 1897
  • Is also the state flower of Arkansas
  • Botanical name: Pyrus coronaria
  • Also known as the sweet crabapple or the American crabapple
  • Apple blossom trivia: The largest apple ever picked from a tree came from Caro, Michigan. It weighed three pounds, two ounces.

The choice of the apple blossom as the Michigan state flower is fitting given the state’s long ties to the fruit. Michigan ranks third in the country in apple production, just behind Washington and New York. The apple blossom was named the Michigan state flower in 1897. While Michigan’s orchards produce many varieties of apples, lawmakers singled out the flower of the pyrus coronaria, or crabapple, for the distinction of becoming the Michigan state flower. They noted that it was not only beautiful and fragrant, but also native to the state of Michigan. The crabapple tree and its blossoms continue to add natural beauty and value to Michigan today.

Apple blossoms by Liz WestPhoto by Liz West

Each April and May, crabapple trees burst out in delicate white and pink blossoms. The clustered flowers not only add color to otherwise green apple orchards, they also give off a valuable honeysuckle scent. The sweet fragrance attracts bees to orchards where they do the important job of pollinating crabapple and other apple trees. Apple growers often plant crabapple trees amongst their other apple varieties just for this purpose. After apple blossoms are pollinated, fruits begin to grow. The crabapple tree’s fruits reach their mature, small size by late summer. The fruit of the pyrus coronaria is largely ornamental or used only in preservatives and jellies. The Michigan state flower can be found from orchards near Saginaw and Warren to crabapple trees growing around the suburbs of Detroit and Ann Arbor.

Apple orchards flourish off the shores of Lake Michigan where they benefit from the lake-influenced weather. Near Grand Rapids, flowers from the apple tree signal the arrival of the annual Blossomtime Festival. The event celebrates marks the arrival of apple blossoms as well as the harvest of the region’s grapes, melons, peaches, tomatoes and tart cherries. Despite lawmaker’s assertions, the Michigan state flower is not native to the United States. Early European settlers brought apple seeds with them and planted the first apple trees in Massachusetts. In springtime, no flower is more at home in Michigan than the fragrant apple blossom!

Sources:

Michigan.gov

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service