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This small tree is typically 15-50' tall, forming a short crooked trunk about 1-2½' across and a globoid crown with spreading crooked branches. Trunk bark is reddish gray, thin, and irregularly fissured, while branch bark is more gray and smooth. Twigs are reddish brown to brown with scattered white lenticels; they are glabrous or pubescent. Young shoots are light gray-green to purple, terete, and densely pubescent. Alternate leaves about 2-3½" long and 1¼-2¼" across occur along the twigs and young shoots. The leaf blades are lanceolate-ovate to ovate in shape and finely serrated or crenulated along their margins. The upper surface of the leaf blades is yellowish green to dark green and hairless (or nearly so), while the lower surface is pale gray-green or whitish green and more or less downy from short fine hairs. The petioles are  ¾-1½" long, whitish green to dull purple, and downy from short fine hairs. Bases of the leaf blades are rounded or slightly cordate, while their tips are blunt to pointed. Relatively large flowers about 1¼-2" across are produced in small clusters from short spur twigs. Individual flowers have 5 rounded petals that are pinkish white to white and contracted at their bases, 5 lanceolate sepals that are pale gray-green and downy from short fine hairs, numerous stamens (about 20) with yellow anthers, and an inferior ovary with 5 styles. The sepals are much smaller than the petals. The slender pedicels are pale gray-green and downy from short fine hairs. The blooming period occurs during late spring for about 2 weeks (after the vernal leaves have unfolded). The flowers are fragrant. Fertile flowers are replaced by small green pomes that develop during the summer. At maturity during late summer or fall, the pomes are 1½-4" across and more or less globoid in shape; each pome has a depression at its top and bottom. The exterior of mature pomes is usually greenish red or red (rarely yellow) and glabrous or nearly so; sometimes short fine hairs occur within the depressions of each pome. The fleshy interior of mature pomes is greenish white to pale yellow, crisp, and somewhat juicy; the flavor can be sour, sweet-sour, or sweet. Within the central portion of each pome, there are up to 10 brown seeds. These small seeds are ovoid and flattened. The deciduous leaves usually turn yellow during the autumn.


Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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