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.
Links to this article are strongly encouraged, and this article may be republished without further permission if published as written and if credit is given to the author, Horticulture and Home Pest News, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. If this article is to be used in any other manner, permission from the author is required. This article was originally published on April 12, 1996. The information contained within may not be the most current and accurate depending on when it is accessed.