Malus sargentii is a spreading shrub or tree with ovate or 3-lobed, dark green leaves, to 8cm (3in) long. In late spring it bears broad-petalled, saucer-shaped, pure white flowers profusely borne in umbels all over the bush. These are followed by dark red fruits up to 8mm (about 0.25in) across in late summer and autumn.
It is a native of Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, and perfectly hardy in this country.[the UK]
It was introduced from Japan in 1892 and named as a new species although it is closely related to M. toringo (syn. M. sieboldii), a similar but more tree-like species which has pale pink flowers and smaller fruits.
Two folks commented yesterday with thoughts about what the trees are - and they're good thoughts. I had the same ideas myself, and set them aside earlier. Last night I came across what I really think these trees are. Everything fits. The three-lobed leaves, the dark red, small fruit that stays on through winter, the 4-6 foot height. The fact that pruning them didn't make it better.
Also - I've got another Japanese-sourced plant nearby, Pieris Japonica. I wonder if a previous owner had a thing for Japanese plants. I know *just* the person to ask; fire-department-doctor-guy who lived in my house 1985-1991.
Of course, I was certain last year when I said these were cherry trees. Just take everything I am "certain" of with a grain of salt!
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