Herb: Prairie Crab

Latin name: Malus ioensis

Synonyms: Pyrus ioensis

Family: Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Edible parts of Prairie Crab:

Fruit - raw or cooked. Up to 4cm in diameter. Harsh and astringent, it is best baked or made into preserves. It makes excellent jellies and cider.

Description of the plant:


5 m
(16 feet)

May to

Habitat of the herb:

Open woods, thickets, pastures, along streams etc, with a preference for calcareous soils.

Other uses of Prairie Crab:

Wood - heavy. Of no commercial importance.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame. It usually germinates in late winter. Stored seed requires stratification for 3 months at 1C and should be sown in a cold frame as soon as it is received. It might not germinate for 12 months or more. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle. If given a rich compost they usually grow away quickly and can be large enough to plant out in late summer, though consider giving them some protection from the cold in their first winter. Otherwise, keep them in pots in a cold frame and plant them out in late spring of the following year. Cuttings of mature wood, November in a frame.

Cultivation of Prairie Crab:

Open woods, thickets, pastures, along streams etc, with a preference for calcareous soils.

Medicinal use of the herb:

None known

Known hazards of Malus ioensis:

All members of this genus contain the toxin hydrogen cyanide in their seeds and possibly also in their leaves, but not in their fruits. Hydrogen cyanide is the substance that gives almonds their characteristic taste but it should only be consumed in very small quantities. Apple seeds do not normally contain very high quantities of hydrogen cyanide but, even so, should not be consumed in very large quantities. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.