Roberts Crab is an unusual crab-apple, grown both for its attractive ornamental qualities, and for culinary uses.
The abundant spring blossom is dark pink, and the leaves have a bronze tint.
Ripening in late summer, the crab-apples have an unusual dark purple colour. They are also very large - the size of small apples.
The main attraction in the kitchen is that the purple fruits have a rich red flesh, making Roberts Crab an excellent variety for crab-apple jams and jellies.
The red flesh also contains high levels of anthocynanin compounds, which may have anti-oxidant qualities.
The juice is a dark red claret colour, which is darker than that of other red-fleshed crab-apples. The juice flavour is sharp and crab-like, and can be used in cider blends.
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Roberts Crab is very precocious, and is likely to blossom and fruit the first season after planting.
This is not likely to be as good for pollinating mainstream apple varieties as white-blossomed crab-apple varieties.
Roberts Crab is also known as Roberts Red. Although now grown primarily as a crab-apple, it seems to have been originally raised as a cider apple.
This variety is also sometimes marketed as Dr Campbell, in honour of Dr Ian Campbell, a scientist at the famous Long Ashton Research Station near Bristol, who was involved in important developments in virus-free rootstocks for apple trees and crab-apples.