Courageous flowering crabapple

Authored by Sheldon Falk, Owner and operator of Falk Nurseries

Courageous flowering crabapple originated from a seed that was produced from a tree that was an open pollinated Royalty seedling.  The owner of this tree had a double residential  lot and he planted the Royalty op seedlings along the property line.    These trees were located two doors down from where I lived at Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.  The tree I collected the seed from, that later created both Gladiator and Courageous , was the last of the surviving trees that were planted along the property boundary. This last tree had resistance to fireblight while the other seedlings of the Royalty open pollinated cross were susceptible. The trees that were cut down grew up to around 100 mm caliper and  when they showed signs of fireblight the owner started cut down the tree.   On a cold January day, the neighbour told me that the last tree  was going to be cut down the next spring even though it was resistant to fireblight.  I immediately asked for permission to collect seed and when it was granted I trudged through three feet of piled snow and minus 30 C temperature and collected the seed. I collected half a four litre ice cream pail full of seed and my hands were a stiff as the frozen fruit.

I stratified the seed in the fridge and germinated the seed in a seedbed I created at my Prairie Shade Nursery located ten minutes from Portage la Prairie. Two years later I selected the best five seedlings growing in the seedbeds that had excellent leaf colour.  I budded those five selected seedlings and evaluated them in the nursery five years later.  Gladiator was selected for its glossy leaf colour and upright form.  The other four selections all flowered well in the springtime but there was one selection that produced  only a few, tiny fruit and no seed while the others were loaded with Royalty sized fruit. 

I sent Gladiator and Courageous to Aubin Nurseries and they budded both of these trees at their Vineland nursery field (southern Ontario). They reported back that the only three trees of all the other  prairie crabapples that showed no signs of fireblight were Thunderchild, Gladiator and Courageous.

I decided to commercialize Courageous because of the upright, broad crown form, high resistance to fireblight, early pink flowers with significant fragrance and that it produce a few tiny fruit that had no seed .  I dedicated this tree to Lawrence Aubin by naming the new cultivar ‘DurLawrence’.  The Dur designates the developer Rick Durand and Lawrence is after Lawrence Aubin.  The commercial name  is Courageous,  acknowledging the great courage that Lawrence Aubin exhibited during the years he dealt with heart disease and  later the struggle he had with cancer that eventually took his life.

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