Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Malus spectabilis (Ait.) Borkh.

Fully-hardy, rounded tree with oval leaves, to 9cm long, and blush-pink flowers in spring, followed by yellow fruit, to 2.5cm across.  To 10m.  [RHSE, Hortus, Hilliers’].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘The Chinese Apple-Tree [Pyrus spectabilis] when it blossoms in perfection, answers truly to the name of spectabilis; a more shewy or ornamental tree can scarcely be introduced to decorate the shrubbery or plantation; its beauty like that of most trees, whose ornament consists chiefly in their blossoms, is however but of short duration, and depends in some degree on the favourableness of the season at the time of their expansion, which usually takes place about the end of April or beginning of May; the flowers are large, of a pale red when open, and semi-double, the buds are of a much deeper hue, the fruit is of little account, and but sparingly produced.  Trees of this species are to be met with in some gardens of the height of twenty or thirty feet.  Dr. Fothergill is regarded as the first who introduced this Chinese native, he cultivated it in the year 1780; such plants of it as where in his collection; passed at his decease into the hands of Messrs. Gordon and Thompson, in whose rich and elegant Nursery, at Mile-End, this tree may be seen in great perfection.  Though perfectly hardy, as its blossoms are liable to be injured by cutting winds, it will be most proper to plant it in a fhelter’d situation.  It is usually increased by grafting it on the Crab stock.’  [BM t.267/1794]. 

‘This is a most beautiful tree. […] It flowers in April and May, and is perfectly hardy.’  [LBC no.1729/1833].

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [T.793/1843].


Published Feb 05, 2010 - 05:16 PM | Last updated Feb 05, 2010 - 05:21 PM

Figured are ovate leaves and semi-double, white, pink-tinged flowers.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.267, 1794.

Malus spectabilis (Ait.) Borkh. | BM t.267/1794 | BHL

Family Rosaceae
Region of origin

Probably China, but not known in the wild.

  • Pyrus spectabilis Ait.
Common Name

Chinese apple

Name in the Camden Park Record

Pyrus spectabilis 

Confidence level high