Plants and Animals

Malus ioensis Prairie crabapple

Key Characteristics

Small tree or large shrub of woodland edges in far southwestern Michigan; bud scales pubescent; flowers pink with roughly 20 stamens and 5 styles; styles connate, very pubescent at the base; calyx lobes persistent in fruit; leaves, petioles, pedicels, and outer portion of sepals with dense, curly white hairs (i.e., tomentum) underneath. Both flowers (April to May) and mature fruit (September to October) can be used for identification.

Status and Rank

US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: X - Presumed extirpated (legally 'threatened' if rediscovered)
Global Rank: G4G5 - Rank is uncertain, ranging from apparently secure to secure
State Rank: SX - Presumed extirpated


CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed

Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


This is a species primarily native to the tallgrass prairie region of North America, immediately to the west of Michigan. Historical collections in Michigan are from a thicket along a stream bank in Berrien County, and a sandy woodland edge in Emmet County near an old Native American village. In the Chicago region, it is known from woodland edges and abandoned pastures, and elsewhere in its range from open woodlands, savannas, and prairies. In Michigan, this species may have been historically associated with these communities, which now persist in only small, degraded fragments.

Natural Community Types

  • Unknown

For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Associated Plants

No data are available concerning associates in Michigan. Associates in the Chicago region include Pennsylvania sedge (Carex pennsylvanica), spring beauty (Claytonia virginica), gray dogwood (Cornus foemina), hazelnut (Corylus americana), hawthorns (Crataegus spp.), wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana), white ash (Fraxinus americana), wild geranium (Geranium maculatum), sweet-cicely (Osmorhiza claytonii), Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), Solomon’s-seal (Polygonatum biflorum), wild black cherry (Prunus serotina), choke cherry (Prunus virginiana), red oak (Quercus rubra), black raspberry (Rubus occidentalis), black snakeroot (Sanicula odorata), and upright carrion-flower (Smilax ecirrhata).

Management Recommendations

A status survey for this species in Michigan is warranted. This species may be associated with prairie and savanna communities. It likely requires an open canopy and may be managed with prescribed fire and manual brush removal to limit woody encroachment.

Survey Methods

Random meander search covers areas that appear likely to have rare taxa, based on habitat and the judgment of the investigator.

  • Meander search

    • Survey Period: From first week of April to fourth week of May


Survey References

  • Elzinga, C.L., D.W. Salzer, and J.W. Willoughby. 1998. Measuring and Monitoring Plant Populations. The Nature Conservancy and Bureau of Land Management, Denver. BLM Technical Reference 1730-1. 477pp.
  • Goff, G.F., G.A. Dawson, and J.J. Rochow. 1982. Site examination for Threatened and Endangered plant species. Environmental Management 6(4): 307-316
  • Nelson, J.R. 1984. Rare Plant Field Survey Guidelines. In: J.P. Smith and R. York. Inventory of rare and endangered vascular plants of California. 3rd Ed. California Native Plant Society, Berkeley. 174pp.
  • Nelson, J.R. 1986. Rare Plant Surveys: Techniques For Impact Assessment. Natural Areas Journal 5(3):18-30.
  • Nelson, J.R. 1987. Rare Plant Surveys: Techniques for Impact Assessment. In: Conservation and management of rare and endangered plants. Ed. T.S. Elias. California Native Plant Society, Sacramento. 8pp.

Technical References

  • Dickson, E. 2014. Malus. In: Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 19+ vols. New York and Oxford. Vol. 9, pp. 472–479. Available at:
  • Gleason, H. A., and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Second edition. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx. 910pp.
  • Gray, A. 1950. Gray's Manual of Botany; eighth ed. Van Nostrand Reinghold, New York. 1632pp.
  • Holmgren, N.H. 1998. Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. Illustrations of the vascular plants of Northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx. 937pp.
  • Voss, E.G., and A.A. Reznicek. 2012. Field Manual of Michigan Flora. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, MI. 1008 pp.