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Crataegus mollis Scheele
Downy Hawthorn, White Thorn, Whitethorn, Scarlet Hawthorn, Scarlet Haw, Red Haw, Downy Thorn
Rosaceae (Rose Family)
Synonym(s): Crataegus albicans, Crataegus arkansana, Crataegus brachyphylla, Crataegus cibaria, Crataegus gravida, Crataegus induta, Crataegus invisa, Crataegus lacera, Crataegus limaria, Crataegus mollis var. dumetosa, Crataegus mollis var. gigantea, Crataegus mollis var. incisifolia, Crataegus mollis var. sera, Crataegus noelensis, Crataegus pedicellata var. albicans, Crataegus placens
USDA Symbol: CRMO2
USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)
Handsome tree with tall trunk and compact, rounded crown of spreading branches, large broad hairy leaves, many large flowers, and large scarlet fruit. Downy hawthorn is wide-spreading tree, 20-40 ft. in height, with horizontal branching and varying degrees of thorniness. The bark of the short trunk is silvery and scaly. Profuse, flat-topped clusters of white, rose-like blossoms are followed by persistent, tiny, red "apples." Medium-green, fuzzy foliage is usually aborted in early fall due to infections. Little harm is done, since the species is not known for fall color.
One of the largest trees of its genus, Downy Hawthorn was originally called "White Thorn." It was introduced into European gardens as early as 1683. The common and Latin species names both refer to the soft hairy foliage.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Size Notes: Up to about 40 feet tall.
Autumn Foliage: yes
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: May , Jun
DistributionUSA: AL , AR , CT , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , SD , TN , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: NS , ON , QC
Native Distribution: W. NY to extreme e. ND, s. to AL, LA & OK
Native Habitat: Woodland borders; alluvial thickets; sandy hillsides; fields; roadsides
Growing ConditionsLight Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Drought Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Variable.
Conditions Comments: This is an extremely variable tree which will tolerate dry soils. It is very susceptible to a number of leaf diseases including rust blights. It should not be planted near red cedar, an alternate host of several rusts. This is one the of first hawthorns to bloom in spring. The long, sharp thorns are hazardous.
BenefitUse Wildlife: Habitat for many birds and other wildlife. Only a few birds like the fruit of Crataegus and, consequently, they remain effective for a long time.
Use Medicinal: Dried leaves or flowers have been administered in capsules, teas and tinctures for treating heart and circulatory problems. Studies have shown that hawthorn dilates blood vessels, thereby improving circulation, increasing oxygen supply to the heart and stabilizing blood pressure. (Kershaw)
Warning: Plant has thorns or prickles.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Fragrant Flowers: yes
Value to Beneficial InsectsSpecial Value to Native Bees
Supports Conservation Biological Control
This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
PropagationDescription: Propagate using treated seed planted in fall. May not germinate until the second year.
Seed Treatment: Warm stratify at 70-77 degrees for 120 days followed by 135 days at 41 degrees.
Commercially Avail: yes
National Wetland Indicator Status
BibliographyBibref 298 - Field Guide to Texas Trees (1999) Simpson, B.J.
Bibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Crataegus mollis in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Crataegus mollis in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Crataegus mollis
MetadataRecord Modified: 2015-11-12
Research By: TWC Staff