1996 Tree of the Year -- Prairifire Crabapple

The Tree of the Year promotion is a community outreach program sponsored by the Iowa Nursery and Landscape Association to highlight specific trees determined to have superior qualities for Iowa landscapes. The tree of the year for 1996 is 'Prairifire' crabapple. Useful information about this tree is provided below.

History - introduced by D. F. Dayton, Department of Horticulture, University of Illinois, Urbana in 1982.

Growth Habit - Upright to rounded tree (20 feet high and wide).

Foliage - Young leaves are red-maroon, maturing to deep green. The foliage is completely disease resistant, Fall leaf color can be an excellent red-orange.

Flowers - Red-purple to crimson buds open to vivid red-purple single flowers. The tree produces masses of flowers, even at a young age. It is considered one of the best red-flowering crabapples.

Fruit - Deep purple-red (1/2 inch diameter) fruit persist into March, however, they are most attractive in October and November.

Use - 'Prairifire' can be used as a single specimen or in groups. The red-purple flowers of 'Prairifire' would combine nicely with white-flowering selections like 'Adirondack', 'Donald Wyman', or x zumi 'Calocarpa'. Plant crabapples in full sun and in areas that are well-drained. Do not use them in areas that remain wet.

'Prairifire' is an outstanding crabapple selection for its magnificent floral and fruit display, excellent disease resistance, and unusual leaf coloration in spring and fall.

This article originally appeared in the April 12, 1996 issue, p. 53.

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