Crataegus spp.

Secondary Names:
A variety of common names often ending in "haw" – are used for the individual hawthorn species

Leaf Type: Deciduous
Texas Native:
Tree Description:

A group of 30 or so species, usually small trees or shrubs to 20 feet tall and one or more straight trunks to 4" in diameter, often bearing straight thorns, white blossoms, and red or yellow fruit.

Range/Site Description:

Different species are adapted to different sites, from the poorest to the richest soils, the shallowest to the deepest, and on limestone hills as well as flooded swamps. Some varieties are planted as landscape specimens.


Simple, alternate, usually 2" to 3" long; shapes highly variable, ranging from oval, round, or elliptical (or even obovate in some species); rounded or wedge-shaped at the base, leaf edge toothed or double-toothed; most species with long, straight thorns on the twigs.


Dense, flat clusters of white, 0.5" flowers appear in spring after the new leaves. Some give off a slightly unpleasant odor.


Variable; a round, red or yellow berry, 0.25" to 1" in diameter; when ripe, some have a pulpy, sweet, edible flesh, surrounding 1 to 5 bony seeds.


Thin, smooth, gray to red-brown at first, developing thin gray scales that peel away from trunks and branches to expose the new bark beneath. Old trunks are very rough, gray, and fissured.


Wood is strong, tough, heavy, hard, but rarely used for any purpose. Parsley hawthorn (Crataegus marshallii) is occasionally available as a landscape specimen.

Similar Species:

River birch (Betula nigra) has similar leaves, no thorns, and papery bark that peels from the trunk; gum bully (Sideroxylon lanuginosum) has obovate leaves with wooly undersides.

Interesting Facts:

Mayhaw (Crataegus opaca) is a wetland species prized for its fruits that are used to make sweet jellies and preserves.

Back   Print results