Cockspur hawthorn is a Chicago area native that provides beautiful flowers in spring and persistent fruit in fall and winter. This species should be used with care as it has long thorns and is prone to disease. White flowers in the spring, persistent red fruit, and the orange-red fall color of this Midwestern native make it a nice addition to the four-season landscape.
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Chicago area
- North America
- Zone 4
- Zone 5
- Zone 6
- Zone 7
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
- Occasional drought
- Alkaline soil
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Medium tree (25-40 feet)
- Small tree (15-25 feet)
- Early winter
- Mid winter
- Early spring
- Mid spring
- Late spring
- Late summer
- Early fall
- Mid fall
- Late fall
Size and Form
20 to 30 feet high and 20 to 35 feet wide; broad rounded habit with distinctly horizontal branching.
Tree & Plant Care
Site this tree in front of evergreens for winter effect.
This tree has very long thorns and should be sited carefully.
Disease, pests and problems
Cedar rust diseases, fireblight, leaf spots, scale and mites
Native geographic location and habitat
Common in pastures, forest edges and thickets.
Attracts birds & butterflies
This plant is a larval host to the striped hairstreak, and red-spotted purple butterflies.
Hawthorn also provides food to many species of birds as the fruit persists well into winter.
Bark color and texture
Bark is rough and slightly shaggy with age.
This plant has 2-3” thorns on the stems.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Simple, alternate leaves, 1 to 4 inches long; dark, glossy green; rounded at the tip and narrow at the base.
Fall color is purplish.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Flowers are unpleasantly scented; small creamy white flowers in broad, flat clusters; late spring.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
This tree yields persistent red fruits (pomes).
Cultivars and their differences
Thornless Cockspur Hawthorn (Crataegus crus-galli var. inermis) : This variety has thornless stems.