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Malus hupehensis

Biological Category 
Species Type 
NY Invasiveness Rank 
Not Assessed
LHPrism Status 
Tier 2 - Emerging

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  • Tea crabapple is a member of the Rose family (Rosaceae)
  • Tea crabapple is a 15-20 feet-tall deciduous tree with a broad, vase-shaped canopy. The tree’s bark is dark brown/gray and flakey. The species is most conspicuous in spring when abundant, fragrant one-and-a-half inch-wide pink to white flowers cover the tree’s branches. (1)

Leaves are alternately arranged, ovate to oval in shape, dark green and glossy, up to four inches long with serrate margins. New growth is bronze in color. (2)

Flowers are abundant, fragrant, white to pink in color, spring blooming, and approximately one and half inches in diameter. (2)

Tea crabapple’s fruits are small pomes. Each fruit is green-yellow with a red ‘blush’ often on one side, and approximately half an inch in diameter. (2)

Introduction History 
Tea crabapple was introduced via the horticultural trade. It is now naturalized in at least three states. Its planting range, and potential expansion range, covers the entire continental United States. (4)
Ecology and Habitat 
Tea crabapple colonizes old fields, woodland edges and other waste spaces. Although the species prefers moist, well-drained, acid soil in full sun, it can adapt to a variety of substrates. (2)
Reproduction and Phenology 
Abundant fruit ripens at summer’s end through early fall and is dispersed by birds. Bees and other insects pollinate tea crabapple’s flowers. (1) Vectors include birds, small mammals and horticulture. (1)
Impacts of this species 

Little is known about the ecological impact of Tea crabapple. A capable naturalizer, Tea crabapple’s appearance in habitats outside of the garden setting warrants concern and further scrutiny of this species’ habitat preferences, means of spread, adaptability and reproductive potential. The species produces abundant fruit which are dispersed long distances by birds and small mammals. It appears to be relatively shade-tolerant and could potentially alter the diversity and structure of the communities it invades. 

Management Methods 

Biological Control
No biological control option is currently available.

Manual or Mechanical Control
Pulling / Digging Up: Hand pulling or digging young plants is effective, if time consuming.

Mowing: Mowing, weed whacking or cutting will cause larger individuals to re-sprout. This tactic is more effective when followed up with chemical treatment. 

Girdling: Girdling is an effective method of control if used with a chemical control method such as cut stump or hack-and-squirt application. Otherwise, re-sprouting is likely to occur. (5)

Prescribed Fire: No information available

Prescribed Grazing: No information available

Soil Tilling: No information available

Mulching: No information available

Solarization: Not applicable

Hot Foam Spray: No information available

Chemical Control
The pesticide application rates and usage herein are recommendations based on research and interviews with land managers.  When considering the use of pesticides, it is your responsibility to fully understand the laws, regulations and best practices required to apply pesticides in a responsible manner.  At times, the pest you seek to treat may not be on a pesticide label, requiring a 2ee exemption from NYSDEC.  Always thoroughly read the label of any pesticide and consult the NYSDEC or a licensed pesticide applicator with questions.

Foliar Spray: A 2% solution of glyphosate is likely effective. Always read all instructions on the label. (5)

Cut Stump: A 50% solution of glyphosate applied immediately to cut stems is likely effective in controlling this species. (5)

Basal Bark: A 20% solution of triclopyr is likely effective. (5)

Stem Injection: No information available

Pre-Emergent Spray: No information available

Summary of Best Managment Practices 

General management overview and recommendation
As with any other invasive infestation complex, large stands of Tea crabapple tree are best managed via a combination of mechanical and chemical means. Larger individuals should be treated with a cut stump or basal bark herbicide application, while small individuals can be pulled or sprayed.  All managed infestations should be monitored for at several years to ensure exhaustion of the seed bank and to monitor for any re-sprouting. Any new seedlings can be hand pulled. New sprouts must be treated with foliar spray or continually re-cut. 

Post treatment monitoring
Controlled populations should be revisited at least 2 times a season for at least 4 years to ensure exhaustion of the seed bank and to check no re-sprouting has occurred. 

Disposal Methods
Mowed, cut, or pulled tea crabapple can be composted or chipped so long as management occurred prior to fruiting.