hawthorn

(Crataegus spp.)

Overview
<strong>hawthorn</strong>
Photo by Nancy Falkum
 

There are about 230 species of hawthorn worldwide, at least 152 in North America north of Mexico, and 12 species in Minnesota. Two additional species, historically native to Minnesota, have not been seen in the state for more than 100 years and are now presumed extirpated.

Hawthorns need full sun to moderate shade, only a moderate amount of water, and little competition from other shrubs and trees. The seeds take two years to germinate. The plants grow slowly and are long-lived. They flower in the spring while the leaves are expanding, and produce abundant fruits in the fall. The seeds are dispersed by mammals and birds.

 
 

Hawthorns are often an important part of an ecological community. They provide shelter for birds and mammals, are hosts for many species of moths and butterflies, and provide food in winter for wildlife, especially thrushes and waxwings. Their numbers have been decreasing in the state due to several factors, including conversion of land to agriculture, fire suppression, competition from eastern redcedar, and susceptibility to cedar apple rust, which reduces the number of flowers and produces deformed fruits with aborted seeds.

 
             
 
Description
 
 

Hawthorns are small trees or shrubs. The trunks are sometimes armed with simple or compound thorns. The branches often have straight or curved thorns. The leaves are deciduous and alternate, They are scattered on the branches and crowded at the tips of short branchlets. Leaf margins have gland-tipped teeth. The inflorescence is small, dome-shaped to flat-topped, branched clusters (panicles) of several to many flowers at the end of short branchlets. The flowers have 5 sepals, 5 petals, 10 to 20 stamens, and 2 to 5 styles. The fruit (pome) is 2 to 5 stones surrounded by thick flesh.

Where two or more hawthorn species occur in close proximity they often hybridize, producing plants with intermediate characteristics and making identification to the species level difficult.

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

2, 3, 7, 8, 24, 28.

 
  2/6/2022      
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Rosanae  
 

Order

Rosales (roses, elms, figs, and allies)  
 

Family

Rosaceae (rose)  
  Subfamily Amygdaloideae  
  Tribe Maleae  
  Subtribe Malinae  
 

 

   
 

Subordinate Taxa

 
 
     

Section Coccineae

 

Series Coccineae

   

scarlet hawthorn (Crataegus coccinea) (possibly extirpated)

     
 

Series Crus-galli

   

cockspur hawthorn (Crataegus crus-galli var. crus-galli)

     
 

Series Macracanthae

   

fleshy hawthorn (Crataegus succulenta)

large-thorned hawthorn (Crataegus macracantha)

late hawthorn (Crataegus calpodendron)

     
 

Series Molles

   

downy hawthorn (Crataegus mollis var. mollis)

Quebec hawthorn (Crataegus submollis)

     
 

Series Punctatae

   

dotted hawthorn (Crataegus punctata)

     
 

Series Rotundifoliae

    fireberry hawthorn (Crataegus chrysocarpa var. chrysocarpa)
     
 

Series Tenuifoliae

   

bigfruit hawthorn (Crataegus macrosperma)

Fort Sheridan hawthorn (Crataegus fluviatilis)

     

Section Douglasia

 

Series Douglasianae

   

Douglas hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii)

     

Great Plains hawthorn (Crataegus sheridana)

rough-leaved hawthorn (Crataegus scabrida) (possibly extirpated)

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

 

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

hawthorn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
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Nancy Falkum

 
    hawthorn (Crataegus sp.)      
 

Randy

 
 

thorns on a hawthorn tree near MN/IA border

 
    hawthorn (Crataegus sp.)      
           
 
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  Nancy Falkum
5/2/2021

Location: Kellogg Weaver Dunes SNA, South Unit

hawthorn (Crataegus sp.)  
  Randy
5/23/2017

Location: near MN/IA border

thorns on a hawthorn tree

hawthorn (Crataegus sp.)  
           
 
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Created: 5/24/2017

Last Updated:

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