Scarlet Hawthorn (Crataegus coccinea)



There are over 100 species of hawthorn native to North America and this makes positive identification challenging for the amateur and expert alike.  In general, hawthorns have the form of small trees or large shrubs, up to 12 feet in height, with a crooked trunk or multiple trunks, and a low, spreading crown.  They are usually found on abandoned farmlands, near streams or in forest openings, especially on soil with calcium.  Though they often grow in the open, they can tolerate some shade as well.  To identify hawthorns, one must examine the leaf, pome (berry), and thorn, for size, shape and colour, as well as looking at the whole tree.  Most hawthorns do not spread by underground suckers but only by seeds in the fruit.  Hawthorns provide food for wildlife.