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Washington Hawthorn

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SCIENTIFIC NAME: Crataegus phaenopyrum
FAMILY: Rosaceae

Washington hawthorn is a native of the United States growing in the southeastern states from Virginia to Alabama and west into Missouri. Apparently it was widely planted in Washington D.C. when this country was first being settled. As a result, it picked up the name of the city. This highly ornamental small to medium sized tree has year round appeal.

Hardiness Zones 4 to 6.

Growth habit As round as it is tall, it can reach a height of 20 feet. This tree adds value to the landscape as a single or multi-stemmed tree.

Leaves and needles Small coarsely toothed leaves are bright green in color throughout the summer. One of this tree’s strong points is the showy autumn orange to red leaf color.

Twigs Dark green when young but will turn a lighter gray as the twigs mature. Older twigs have 1 to 3 inch thorns, which can be a problem is public safety is a concern. Other wise the thorns do not detract from the tree’s value in the overall landscape.

Fruit Flowers are abundant in the spring and creamy white in color. The fruit is berry-like and fleshy like other hawthorns but uniquely persistent on the tree through the winter. The fruit is bright orange to red when it matures, which contrasts well with the bright green leaves.

Bark Tree has smooth dark green bark on younger stems. As the tree matures the bark turns almost black with a blocky slightly flaking appearance.

Insects and diseases The only pests observed on this tree are aphids.

Landscape value This tough, alkaline soil tolerant tree also exhibits some xeric qualities by tolerating hot dry climates. However, this tree’s greatest value is its brilliant fall leaf color, which is accented by the small showy reddish-orange fruit clusters. The persistent fruit all color and interest through the fall and early winter months.

Information sources
Michael Dirr, Manual of Woody Landscape Plants (University of Georgia, 1990)
Michael Kuhns, Trees of Utah and the Intermountain West (Utah State University Press, 1998)
Oregon Landscape Plants