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Crataegus phaenopyrum (Washington hawthorn)
Makin, Julie

Crataegus phaenopyrum

Crataegus phaenopyrum (L. f.) Medik.

Washington Hawthorn, Washington-thorn

Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Synonym(s): Crataegus cordata, Crataegus populifolia, Crataegus youngii


USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (I)

This is a dense, round-headed tree, to 30 ft., with slender thorns up to 3 in. long. Broadly triangular, deciduous leaves turn yellow to orange or scarlet in fall. Short trunk and regular, rounded crown of upright branches, abundant small flowers in spring, many small, round, red fruits, and brilliant autumn foliage; hairless throughout. Clusters of white, apple-like blossoms precede bright-red berries which persist into winter. Trunk bark is silvery-gray and scaly; twigs are a flaky, red-brown. There is a strong horizontal branching habit.

One of the showiest and most desirable hawthorns for planting. In the early 19th century, it was introduced into Pennsylvania from Washington, D.C., as a hedge plant and is thus called "Washington-thorn." The Latin species name refers to the pearlike foliage.


From the Image Gallery

32 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Fruit Type: Pome
Size Notes: Up to about 30 feet tall.
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Jun


USA: AL , AR , DC , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MO , NC , NJ , OH , PA , RI , SC , TN , VA , WV
Native Distribution: S.e. PA & NJ to FL, w. to s.e. MO
Native Habitat: Open woods; streambanks; open, rocky areas

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Moist soils.
Conditions Comments: Although susceptible to fire blight, several species of rust, and insect damage, this is one of the most tolerant and pest-free hawthorns. Thorns are dangerous; do not use this tree where small children play.


Use Wildlife: Provides favored food, cover and nesting habitat for birds.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.


Description: Propagate using stratified seed.
Seed Collection: Remove seeds from fruit before treatment. Seeds lose viability if stored for more than one year.
Seed Treatment: Washington hawthorne seeds may have a double dormancy requiring 4 months warm, followed by 4 months cool stratification. Some authorities say a single period of moist chilling is sufficient for germination.
Commercially Avail: yes

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Plant identfication
October 21, 2009
Hi...Can you please identfy the tall, evergreen shrub with purple plum-colored foliage that I have noticed in winter locally?...Hope so, need he color! THX
view the full question and answer

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.


Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.

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Web Reference

Webref 3 - Flora of North America (2014) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.

Additional resources

USDA: Find Crataegus phaenopyrum in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Crataegus phaenopyrum in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Crataegus phaenopyrum


Record Modified: 2022-10-05
Research By: TWC Staff

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