The Difference in Hawthorn Berries, Leaves & Flowers

The berries, leaves and flowers of the 200 species of hawthorn trees vary enough to give each a dash of distinction all of its own. Whether you are partial to colour or shape or searching for a specific utilization when designing your landscape, the many varieties of hawthorns provide both diversity and versatility.


Hawthorn trees bear fruit known as haws that resemble miniature apples or berries, the majority of which are bright red. The black hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii Lindl), also called the Douglas hawthorn, found in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 to 9, create purplish-black fruit. Certain hawthorn trees, such as the dark hawthorn, create fruit no larger than one-half inch, while some others, like the “Autumn Glory” (Crataegus “Autumn Glory”), growing in USDA zones 6 to 9, make fruit between 1 1/2 and 3 inches.


Many hawthorn leaves are ovate or oblong with slight variations. The ovate leaves of the English hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata), found in USDA zones 4 to 8, are shallowly lobed. The oblong leaves of the “Carriere” (Crataegus × lavallei “Carrierei”), and also found in zones 4 to 8, are toothed. Some hawthorns, such as the “Autumn Glory” and the Oriental hawthorn (Crataegus pinnitifida), that rises in USDA zones 6 to 10, create pinnate leaves. Meanwhile, the Washington hawthorn (Crataegus phaenopyrum), found in USDA zones 4 to 8, has lobed deltoid leaves. Leaf color ranges from medium to dark green and all of hawthorns produce fall shade before falling. The “Autumn Glory” has dark green leaves which change to orange or red, while the Russian hawthorn (Crataegus ambigua), found in USDA zones 4 to 8, has medium green leaves which does not only turn orange or red, but also gold or mulitcolored.


The showy flowers of the hawthorn range from white to pink to rosy red and typically blossom in the spring. The “Autumn Glory” and the Russian hawthorn are one of the ones that produce only white flowers. The English hawthorn variety “Crimson Cloud” (Crataegus laevigata “Crimson Cloud”) produces red or lavender blossoms, while its variety, the “Double Pink” (Crataegus laevigata “Double Pink”) blossoms in pink. Some hawthorns blossom in others seasons as well as spring, such as the Washington hawthorn, which might blossom in the summer, and the “Majestic Beauty” Indian hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis × “Montic”), that blooms in the autumn, spring or winter from USDA zones 7 to 11.

Other Differences

Many hawthorn trees are helpful for screening, but some, like the Chinese, English, “Autumn Glory” and “Carriere” varieties, can also be appropriate for pleaching, or weaving together to make a living archway or wall. Others, such as the “Majestic Beauty” Indian hawthorn and the Washington hawthorn might be pruned into hedges. Hawthorn trees typically like full sun, although some, like the English hawthorn and the “Majestic Beauty,” will tolerate partial shade. Hawthorns generally prefer moist soil, but the Indian and the Washington varieties are exceptionally drought-resistant.

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