Crabapples (Malus spp.) are small trees and shrubs in the rose family, and are valued for their charming flowers (single, semidouble, and double forms in shades of purple, red, pink, white); colorful, small fruits (≤5 cm; primarily purple, red, pink, orange, yellow, and green); and diverse growth habits (columnar, fastigiate, upright, spreading, drooping, weeping) (UPOV, 2003; Wyman, 1955). As a result of these desirable attributes, their rich cultural heritage, and wide environmental adaptability, crabapples have been widely cultivated in China’s landscape and gardens, and are popular worldwide. Although nearly 1200 crabapple cultivars are recorded in Fiala’s Flowering Crabapples (Fiala, 1994), less than 5% are semidouble or double flowered, such as the outstanding ‘Brandywine’ (rose type, double flowered), ‘Van Eseltine’ (pink doubles), ‘Kelsey’ (red doubles), and ‘Diamond’ (red-purple doubles), resulting in a scarcity of double-flowered cultivars available in today’s market. Phenotypic diversity plays an important role in plant breeding and selection (Endress, 2011; Kumari et al., 2016; Santos et al., 2011). It is of great importance to breed new crabapple cultivars with multiple layers of petals and novel flower shapes. Crabapple breeding is an active endeavor worldwide, with increasing efforts dedicated toward the rare double-flowered germplasm. During the 20th century, breeding of ornamental crabapples was carried out mainly in Canada and the United States, where ≈400 to 600 different forms and cultivars were grown (Dirr, 2010). However, for the past 20 years, only two new double-flowered crabapple cultivars—Spring Bride (Spongberg, 1996) and Jarmin (Jarmin, 2003)—have been documented in the U.S. market.
Malus ‘Fen Balei’ was selected and released from the Nanjing Forestry University’s crabapple breeding program. This cultivar has gained much attention for its plump buds; double, light-purple flowers with a diameter of 5.5 cm; and deep, cup-shaped collora. It also has an added advantage of being relatively resistant to pests and diseases. We report the development and selection of the 'Fen Balei' crabapple cultivar.
DirrM.2010Manual of woody landscape plants. 6th ed. Stipes Publishing Champaign IL
FialaJ.L.1994Flowering crabapples: The genus Malus p. 106–273. Timber Press Portland OR
JarminM.2003Crabapple tree named ‘Jarmin’. U.S. patent application no. 09/997044
KumariJ.BagM.K.PandeyS.JhaS.K.ChauhanS.S.JhaG.K.GautamN.K.DuttaM.2016Assessment of phenotypic diversity in pearl millet [Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br.] germplasm of Indian origin and identification of trait-specific germplasmCrop Pasture Sci.6712231234
Royal Horticultural Society2007RHS colour chart. 5th ed. Royal Horticultural Society London UK
SantosE.A.SouzaM.M.VianaA.P.AlmeidaA.A.FreitasJ.C.LawinsckyP.R.2011Multivariate analysis of morphological characteristics of two species of passion flower with ornamental potential and of hybrids between themGenet. Mol. Res.1024572471
UPOV2003Guidelines for the conduct of tests for distinctness uniformity and stability [ornamental apple (Malus Mill.)]. TG/192/1
WymanD.1955Trees for American gardens. Macmillan New York NY