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Peraphyllum ramosissimum

Peraphyllum ramosissimum

Peraphyllum ramosissimum

Peraphyllum ramosissimum (Squaw Apple, Wild Crab Apple)
Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Foothills. Woodlands, openings. Spring.
Above: Patty's Place (near Mesa Verde National Park), May 13, 2020 and BLM lands near Mesa Verde, May 5, 2012 and June 22, 2004.
Left: Mesa Verde National Park, near entrance, May 11, 2008.

Peraphyllum ramosissimum is a handsome shrub growing to five feet tall and wide.  Although Squaw Apple is not as common as its two ubiquitous companions Purshia stansburiana and Fendlera rupicola, it is common enough to be easy to find in the low mesas and foothills; once you have found one Squaw Apple, you will probably find many more nearby. 

Squaw Apple has been in our area for perhaps 50 million years as evidenced in fossils.

Thomas Nuttall named this genus and species in 1840 from specimens he collected on "dry hill-sides near the Blue Mountains of the Oregon" on his trip West with the Wyeth Expedition of 1834-1837.  (Nuttall's words as quoted in Intermountain Flora.)

"Peraphyllum" is Greek for "very leafy" and refers to the crowded clusters of leaves.  "Ramosissimum" is Greek for "many branches".

The word "squaw" is commonly thought to be a pejorative, but click to read a more complex understanding of the word. Click again for another well-informed understanding of the word. Both of these articles indicate that the original meaning of the word "squaw" is "woman" or "young girl" from the Massachusett Algonquin language (present day Boston area). Also see Wikipedia and do a search for "squaw" on that Wiki page.

As occurs with many words, in many parts of the world, in many languages, among many paranoid, mean-spirited people, the word "squaw" has been corrupted by the minds of some. To mock, slander, and defame, seem to be the pleasure of all too many people. We should not allow them to corrupt us and our language. We don't have to hop on the bandwagon of the politically correct when that wagon is being guided by the misguided and ill-informed. I still commonly call this lovely shrub, "Squaw Apple", and knowing that "squaw" originates with a native tribe makes the name even more appealing.

Peraphyllum ramosissimum (Squaw Apple, Wild Crab Apple)
Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Foothills. Woodlands, openings. Spring.
Mesa Verde National Park, near entrance, May 11, 2008.

Squaw Apple commonly produces an abundance of sweetly scented flowers followed by small apple-like fruits. 
Peraphyllum ramosissimum (Squaw Apple, Wild Crab Apple)
Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Foothills. Woodlands, openings. Spring.
BLM land near Mesa Verde National Park, June 23, 2004.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Peraphyllum ramosissimum