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TREES & plants

Whitethorn

Whitethorn or English hawthorn is a small tree that can be utilized under power lines, but it may be difficult to find in nurseries. Typical of hawthorns, this species has white flowers in spring, followed by red fruits. Stems bear one inch long thorns.

Botanical name: 
Crataegus laevigata
All Common Names: 
whitethorn, English hawthorn
Family (English): 
Rose
Family (Botanic): 
Rosaceae
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
Foliage: 
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Planting Site: 
  • Residential and parks, 
  • Wide median, 
  • Under utility lines
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen, 
  • Utility
Size Range: 
  • Small tree (15-25 feet)
Mature Height: 
15-20 feet
Mature Width: 
15-20 feet
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 4, 
  • Zone 5 (Chicago), 
  • Zone 6, 
  • Zone 7
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Acid Soils: 
  • Tolerant
Alkaline Soils: 
  • Tolerant
Salt Spray: 
  • Intolerant
Soil Salt: 
  • Intolerant
Drought Conditions: 
  • Tolerant
Poor Drainage: 
  • Intolerant
Planting Considerations: 
  • Dangerous thorns, 
  • May be difficult to find in nurseries
Ornamental Interest: 
  • Spring blossoms, 
  • Showy flowers
Season of Interest: 
  • Mid spring, 
  • Late spring, 
  • Late summer
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Pink, 
  • Red, 
  • White
Shape or Form: 
  • Broad, 
  • Round
Growth Rate: 
  • Moderate
Transplants Well: 
  • No
Wildlife: 
  • Insect pollinators, 
  • Migrant birds
More Information: 

Tree & Plant Care

This tree is thorny and should be sited carefully.

Disease, pests, and problems

Cedar rust diseases, fireblight, leaf spots, scale and mites.

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to Europe.

Bark color and texture 

Bark is rough and slightly shaggy with age.
This plant has thorns on the stems.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Simple, alternate leaves, 1/2 to 3 inches long;  3 to 5 lobed; toothed margins.
Leaves are dark green in summer, with very little color change in fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

White flowers in broad clusters; late spring.  There are cultivars with pink or red flowers.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

This tree yields persistent red fruits (pomes) that may grow as large as 1/2 inch.

Crataegus laevigata or Whitethorn