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.
This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.
This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.
All Common Names:
- Residential and parks
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Chicago area,
- North America
- Shade tree,
- Medium tree (25-40 feet),
- Small tree (15-25 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
- Zone 3,
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Dry sites,
- Occasional drought,
- Alkaline soil
- Moderately Tolerant
- Dangerous thorns
- Spring blossoms,
- Fall color,
- Persistent fruit/seeds,
- Showy fruit,
- Showy flowers
Season of Interest:
- Early winter,
- Mid winter,
- Early spring,
- Mid spring,
- Late spring,
- Late summer,
- Early fall,
- Mid fall,
- Late fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
- Game birds,
- Migrant birds,
- Nesting birds,
Size & Form
Rounded with horizontal branching, reaching 20 to 25 feet high and 25 feet wide.
Tree & Plant Care
Full sun in well drained soil. Tolerant of high pH soil and clay.
Site this tree in front of evergreens for winter effect.
This species tree has very long thorns and should be sited carefully; cultivars are nearly thornless.
Disease, pests and problems
Cedar rust diseases, fireblight, leaf spots, scale and mites.
Disease, pests and problem resistance
Tolerant of black walnut toxicity, salt spray, drought and air pollution.
Native geographic location and habitat
Common in pastures, forest edges and thickets.
Bark color and texture
Bark is rough and slightly shaggy with age.
This plant has 2 to 3 inch long 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
“This plant is a cultivar of a species that is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research. Cultivars are plants produced in cultivation by selective breeding or via vegetative propagation from wild plants identified to have desirable traits."
Crusader™ Thornless Cockspur Hawthorn (Crataegus crus-galli var. inermis 'Cruzam'): A medium multi-trunked tree reaching 20 to 30 feet high and wide with horizontal branching habit.Thornless.