Crataegus monogyna

Last updated

Crataegus monogyna
Common hawthorn.jpg
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Crataegus
Section: Crataegus sect. Crataegus
Series: Crataegus ser. Crataegus
C. monogyna
Binomial name
Crataegus monogyna
Synonyms [ citation needed ]

Many, including:

  • Crataegus elegans (Poir.) Mutel, 1834 [2]

Crataegus monogyna, known as common hawthorn, oneseed hawthorn, or single-seeded hawthorn, is a species of hawthorn native to Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia. It has been introduced in many other parts of the world. It can be an invasive weed.



Other common names include may, mayblossom, maythorn, quickthorn, whitethorn, motherdie, and haw.

This species is one of several that have been referred to as Crataegus oxyacantha , a name that has been rejected by the botanical community as too ambiguous. In 1793, Medikus published the name C. apiifolia for a European hawthorn now included in C. monogyna, but that name is illegitimate under the rules of botanical nomenclature. [3] [4]


The common hawthorn is a shrub or small tree 5–14 metres (15 to 45 feet) tall, with a dense crown. The bark is dull brown with vertical orange cracks. The younger stems bear sharp thorns, approximately 12.5 mm (half an inch) long. The leaves are 20 to 40 mm (1 to 1½ inches) long, obovate and deeply lobed, sometimes almost to the midrib, with the lobes spreading at a wide angle. The upper surface is dark green above and paler underneath.

The hermaphrodite flowers are produced in late spring (May to early June in its native area) in corymbs of 5–25 together; each flower is about 10 mm diameter, and has five white petals, numerous red stamens, and a single style; they are moderately fragrant. The flowers are pollinated by midges, bees and other insects and later in the year bear numerous haws. The haw is a small, oval dark red fruit about 10 mm long, berry-like, but structurally a pome containing a single seed. Haws are important for wildlife in winter, particularly thrushes and waxwings; these birds eat the haws and disperse the seeds in their droppings.

The common hawthorn is distinguished from the related but less widespread Midland hawthorn (C. laevigata) by its more upright growth, the leaves being deeply lobed, with spreading lobes, and in the flowers having just one style, not two or three. However they are inter-fertile and hybrids occur frequently; they are only entirely distinct in their more typical forms.


Medicinal use

Crataegus monogyna 'Crimson Cloud' in Elko Nevada 2013-05-23 07 24 06 Crataegus monogyna 'Crimson Cloud' blossoms in Elko Nevada.jpg
Crataegus monogyna 'Crimson Cloud' in Elko Nevada

Crataegus monogyna is one of the most common species used as the "hawthorn" of traditional herbalism. The plant parts used are usually sprigs with both leaves and flowers, or alternatively the fruit ("berries"). [5] Hawthorn has been investigated by evidence-based medicine for treating cardiac insufficiency. [5]

Crataegus monogyna is a source of antioxidant phytochemicals, especially extracts of hawthorn leaves with flowers. [6]

In gardening and agriculture

Common hawthorn is extensively planted as a hedge plant, especially for agricultural use. Its spines and close branching habit render it effectively stock- and human-proof, with some basic maintenance. The traditional practice of hedge laying is most commonly practised with this species. It is a good fire wood which burns with a good heat and little smoke. [7]

Numerous hybrids exist, some of which are used as garden shrubs. The most widely used hybrid is C. × media (C. monogyna × C. laevigata), of which several cultivars are known, including the very popular 'Paul's Scarlet' with dark pink double flowers. Other garden shrubs that have sometimes been suggested as possible hybrids involving the common hawthorn,[ citation needed ] include the various-leaved hawthorn of the Caucasus, which is only very occasionally found in parks and gardens.

Edible "berries", petals, and leaves

The fruit of hawthorn, called haws, are edible raw but are commonly made into jellies, jams, and syrups, used to make wine, or to add flavour to brandy. Botanically they are pomes, but they look similar to berries. A haw is small and oblong, similar in size and shape to a small olive or grape, and red when ripe. Haws develop in groups of two or three along smaller branches. They are pulpy and delicate in taste. In this species (C. monogyna) they have only one seed, but in other species of hawthorn there may be up to five seeds.

Petals are also edible, [8] as are the leaves, which if picked in spring when still young are tender enough to be used in salads. [9] Hawthorn petals are used in the medieval English recipe for spinee, an almond-milk based pottage [10] [11] recorded in 'The Forme of Cury' by the Chief Master-Cook of King Richard II, c. 1390.

Notable trees

An ancient specimen, and reputedly the oldest tree of any species in France, is to be found alongside the church at Saint Mars sur la Futaie, Mayenne. [12] The tree has a height of 9 m (30 feet), and a girth of 265 cm (8'8") (2009). The inscription on the plaque beneath reads: "This hawthorn is probably the oldest tree in France. Its origin goes back to St Julien (3rd century)", but such claims are impossible to verify.

A famous specimen in England was the Glastonbury or Holy Thorn which, according to legend, sprouted from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea after he thrust it into the ground while visiting Glastonbury in the 1st century AD. The tree was noteworthy because it flowered twice in a year, once in the late spring which is normal, but also once after the harshness of midwinter had passed. The original tree at Glastonbury Abbey, felled in the 1640s during the English Civil War, [13] has been propagated as the cultivar 'Biflora'. [14] A replacement was planted by the local council in 1951, but was cut down by vandals in 2010. [13]

The oldest known living specimen in East Anglia, and possibly in the United Kingdom, is known as The Hethel Old Thorn, [15] and is located in the churchyard in the small village of Hethel, south of Norwich, in Norfolk. It is reputed to be more than 700 years old, having been planted in the 13th century. [15]

In culture

The hawthorn is associated with Faerie in Ireland, and as such is not disturbed by those who believe in the danger fairies traditionally represent.

See also


  2. Mutel, Fl. Franç. 1: 358 (1834)
  3. Christensen, Knud Ib (1992). Revision of Crataegus sect. Crataegus and nothosect. Crataeguineae (Rosaceae-Maloideae) in the Old World. American Society of Plant Taxonomists. ISBN   978-0-912861-35-7.
  4. International Plant Names Index [ permanent dead link ]
  5. 1 2 "Hawthorn", University of Maryland Medical Center: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Guide , retrieved 3 October 2016
  6. Oztürk N, Tunçel M (2011). "Assessment of Phenolic Acid Content and In Vitro Antiradical Characteristics of Hawthorn". J Med Food.
  7. "The burning properties of wood" (PDF). Scouts. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-12-23. Retrieved 2010-11-01.
  8. "Crataegus monogyna". Survival and Self Sufficiency. Retrieved 9 September 2011.
  9. Richard Mabey, Food for Free, Collins, October 2001.
  10. "Foods of England" . Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  11. Jaine, T. (1987), Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery, 1986: The Cooking Medium: Proceedings, Prospect Books, ISBN   9780907325369 p. 70
  12. "Fiche AFFO: L'Aubépine monogyne". Retrieved 2014-03-15.
  13. 1 2 "BBC News – The mystery over who attacked the Holy Thorn Tree". BBC News. 2012-04-04. Retrieved 2014-03-15.
  14. Phipps, J.B.; O’Kennon, R.J.; Lance, R.W. 2003. Hawthorns and medlars. Royal Horticultural Society, Cambridge, U.K.
  15. 1 2 "Hethel Old Thorn". Archived from the original on 24 February 2007. Retrieved 18 February 2007.

Related Research Articles

<i>Crataegus</i> Genus of plants

Crataegus, commonly called hawthorn, quickthorn, thornapple, May-tree, whitethorn, or hawberry, is a genus of several hundred species of shrubs and trees in the family Rosaceae, native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere in Europe, Asia and North America. The name "hawthorn" was originally applied to the species native to northern Europe, especially the common hawthorn C. monogyna, and the unmodified name is often so used in Britain and Ireland. The name is now also applied to the entire genus and to the related Asian genus Rhaphiolepis.

<i>Chaenomeles</i> genus of plants

Chaenomeles is a genus of three species of deciduous spiny shrubs, usually 1–3 m tall, in the family Rosaceae. They are native to Japan, Korea, China, Bhutan, and Burma. These plants are related to the quince and the Chinese quince, differing in the serrated leaves that lack fuzz, and in the flowers, borne in clusters, having deciduous sepals and styles that are connate at the base.

<i>Cotoneaster</i> genus of plants

Cotoneaster is a genus of flowering plants in the rose family, Rosaceae, native to the Palaearctic region, with a strong concentration of diversity in the genus in the mountains of southwestern China and the Himalayas. They are related to hawthorns (Crataegus), firethorns (Pyracantha), photinias (Photinia) and rowans (Sorbus).

<i>Photinia</i> genus of plants

Photinia is a genus of about 40–60 species of small trees and large shrubs, but the taxonomy has recently varied greatly, with the genera Heteromeles, Stranvaesia and Aronia sometimes included in Photinia.

<i>Mespilus canescens</i> species of medlar plant

Mespilus canescens, commonly known as Stern's medlar, is a large shrub or small tree, recently discovered in Prairie County, Arkansas, United States, and formally named in 1990. It is a critically endangered endemic species, with only 25 plants known, all in one small wood, now protected as the Konecny Grove Natural Area.

<i>Cornus sanguinea</i> species of plant

Cornus sanguinea, the common dogwood or bloody dogwood, is a species of dogwood native to most of Europe and western Asia, from England and central Scotland east to the Caspian Sea. It is widely grown as an ornamental plant.

<i>Rhaphiolepis</i> genus of plants

Rhaphiolepis is a genus of about fifteen species of evergreen shrubs and small trees in the family Rosaceae, native to warm temperate and subtropical eastern and southeastern Asia, from southern Japan, southern Korea and southern China south to Thailand and Vietnam. In searching literature it is well to remember that the name commonly is misspelt "Raphiolepsis". The genus is closely related to Eriobotrya (loquats), so closely in fact, that members of the two genera have hybridised with each other; for example the "Coppertone loquat" is a hybrid of Eriobotrya deflexa X Rhaphiolepis indica. The common name hawthorn, originally specifically applied to the related genus Crataegus, now also appears in the common names for some Rhaphiolepis species. For example, Rhaphiolepis indica often is called "Indian hawthorn", and Rhaphiolepis umbellata, "Yeddo hawthorn".

<i>Crataegus heterophylla</i> species of plant

Crataegus heterophylla, known as the various-leaved hawthorn, is of uncertain origin. Its original native range is not known, possibly it was the Caucasus of Western Asia. Suggestions that it originated in Southeast Europe may be based on misidentification.

<i>Crataegus laevigata</i> Species of plant

Crataegus laevigata, known as the midland hawthorn, English hawthorn, woodland hawthorn or mayflower, is a species of hawthorn native to western and central Europe, from Great Britain and Spain east to the Czech Republic and Hungary. It is also present in North Africa. The species name is sometimes spelt C levigata, but the original orthography is C lævigata.

<i>Crataegus douglasii</i> species of North American hawthorn

Crataegus douglasii is a North American species of hawthorn known by the common names black hawthorn and Douglas' thornapple. It is named after David Douglas, who collected seed from the plant during his botanical explorations.

<i>Crataegus sanguinea</i> species of plant

Crataegus sanguinea is a species of hawthorn that is native to southern Siberia, Mongolia, and the extreme north of China. It is cultivated for its edible red berry-like fruit which actually is a pome. The fruit can be eaten raw or cooked. They can be used to make jam, jelly, and fruit preserves. They are also grown in gardens as ornamental plants. The flowers are small, white in color, and occur in clusters. The flowers give off a carrion smell.

Crataegus flava, common names summer haw and yellow-fruited thorn, is a species of hawthorn native to the southeastern United States from Virginia to Florida, west to Mississippi. Unfortunately, due to an error by Sargent the name C. flava was, and often still is, used for a different species C. lacrimata, which belongs to a different series, the Lacrimatae series. Flavae is another group of species that were thought to be related to the misidentified C. flava, and although it is now apparent that they are not related, the name of the group remains. Because the true identity of this species has only recently been discovered, the name is rarely used correctly.

<i>Crataegus crus-galli</i> species of plant

Crataegus crus-galli is a species of hawthorn known by the common names cockspur hawthorn and cockspur thorn. It is native to eastern North America from Ontario to Texas to Florida, and it is widely used in horticulture. It is thought to be the parent, along with Crataegus succulenta, of the tetraploid species Crataegus persimilis.

<i>Crataegus rhipidophylla</i> species of plant

Crataegus rhipidophylla is a species of hawthorn which occurs naturally from southern Scandinavia and the Baltic region to France, the Balkan Peninsula, Turkey, Caucasia, and Ukraine. It is poorly known as a landscape and garden plant, but seems to have potential for those uses.

<i>Crataegus mexicana</i> species of plant

Crataegus mexicana is a species of hawthorn known by the common names tejocote, manzanita, tejocotera and Mexican hawthorn. It is native to the mountains of Mexico and parts of Guatemala, and has been introduced in the Andes. The fruit of this species is one of the most useful among hawthorns.

<i>Dasineura crataegi</i> Species of fly

Dasineura crataegi, the hawthorn button-top gall-midge, is a dipteran gall-midge. It causes the hawthorn button-top gall, which develops in the terminal shoots of common hawthorn, Crataegus monogyna Jacq., Midland hawthorn C laevigata (Poir.) DC and their hybrid, C × media Bechst. Synonyms are Perrisia crataegi and Cecidomyia crataegi.

Crataegus songarica is an Asian species of hawthorn with black fruit that is sometimes used medicinally. It is closely related to Crataegus ambigua, a species that has red fruit.

Crataegus texana, the Texas hawthorn, is a member of the family Rosaceae. Typically, it is found in the form of a small tree or a large shrub and blooms in early spring, usually in the months of March and April. Flowers of the Texas Hawthorn are white and usually produce small, one-inch, scarlet fruits that are said to resemble tiny red apples. Its twigs are usually armed with thorns that can grow to be about one to three inches long.

<i>Crataegus brainerdii</i> species of plant

Crataegus brainerdii is a species of flowering plant in the rose family known by the common name Brainerd's Hawthorn. It is named for Ezra Brainerd (1844–1924), a renowned botanist and former president of Middlebury College, in Vermont.

<i>Crataegus persimilis</i> species of plant

Crataegus persimilis is a species of hawthorn, known by the common names plumleaf hawthorn and broad-leaved cockspur thorn, native to southern Ontario, Canada, and the US states of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Virginia. It is widely cultivated, particularly in Europe, as an ornamental. Its sporadic distribution in its natural range and certain of its morphological characters cause some authorities to consider it a probable naturally occurring hybrid, with its most likely parents being Crataegus succulenta and Crataegus crus-galli. It is a tetraploid. Some populations may be self-perpetuating. Its 'Prunifolia' cultivar has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.


Further reading