Malus pumila 'Obelisk' STARK CRIMSON SPIRE

Common Name: columnar apple 
Type: Fruit
Family: Rosaceae
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 6.00 to 8.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: Pink or white
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: High
Suggested Use: Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Attracts: Birds, Butterflies
Tolerate: Air Pollution


Best grown in deep, loamy, moderately fertile, slightly acidic, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates average garden soils, but unamended heavy clay soils which waterlog easily and drain poorly should be avoided. Generally, the more dwarfing the rootstock, the greater the need for soil fertility. Needs full sun for maximum flower and fruit production. More than one variety must be planted in order to facilitate best pollination and subsequent fruit production. For basic cultural information on the growing of apples, see Home Fruit Production, Apples (University of Missouri Extension publication G6021), which is available for inspection or purchase at the Kemper Center Information Desk.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Malus is a genus of about 35 species of deciduous trees and shrubs from Europe, Asia and North America. Some eating apples are hybrids but others are attributed to M. domestica or M. pumila.

Edible apple cultivars do not grow particularly well on their own roots. As a result, apple varieties sold in commerce today have all been grafted onto rootstocks which, inter alia, control the size of the tree. Rootstocks are generally classified as follows (tree height in parenthesis): dwarf (8-10'), semi-dwarf (12-15') and standard (18-25' or more). All trees bear full-size fruit, however. Most trees sold today for the home apple grower are grafted onto dwarfing rootstocks (dwarf or semi-dwarf), resulting in trees which, in comparison to standard trees, are (1) easier to manage (spray, prune and harvest) and (2) produce fruit at an earlier age.

STARK CRIMSON SPIRE is a colonnade-shaped apple tree that typically forms a compact column which grows to 8' tall, but only 2' wide, and is an exclusive introduction from Stark Bro's of Louisiana, Missouri. Light pink to white flowers in spring give way to full-sized, crimson red, eating apples which ripen in September. Usually bears fruit by the third year.


Apple trees in general are susceptible to a number of pests. The four major disease problems of apples are fire blight, powdery mildew, apple scab and cedar apple rust. Potential insect problems are generally of lesser concern and include aphids, maggots, codling moth, plum curculio and spider mites. This cultivar is reported to have much improved disease resistance. However, good cultural practices are always essential and some chemical spraying may become necessary in order to control pests.


Grown primarily for fruit production, STARK CRIMSON SPIRE is good for small areas around a home or apartment. Also may be grown in a planter of at least 17 inches in diameter.