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Scarlet hawthorn

Leaves of scarlet hawthorn.

Scarlet hawthorn is a small tree that can be utilized under power lines. It has white flowers in spring followed by red fruit. The tree does bear long thorns. 

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.

Botanical name:

Crataegus coccinea

All common names:

scarlet hawthorn, red haw, red-fruited hawthorn

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Planting Site:

  • Residential and parks,
  • Wide median,
  • Under utility lines

Tree or Plant Type:

  • Tree


  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Chicago area,
  • Illinois,
  • North America

Landscape Uses:

  • Specimen,
  • Utility

Size Range:

  • Small tree (15-25 feet)

Mature Height:

20-25 feet

Mature Width:

21-25 feet

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7

Soil Preference:

  • Alkaline soil,
  • Moist, well-drained soil


  • Dry sites,
  • Occasional drought,
  • Alkaline soil,
  • Road salt

Acid Soils:

  • Tolerant

Alkaline Soils:

  • Prefers

Salt Spray:

  • Moderately Tolerant

Soil Salt:

  • Moderately Tolerant

Drought Conditions:

  • Moderately Tolerant

Poor Drainage:

  • Intolerant

Planting Considerations:

  • Dangerous thorns,
  • May be difficult to find in nurseries

Ornamental Interest:

  • Spring blossoms,
  • Fall color,
  • Edible fruit,
  • Showy fruit,
  • Showy flowers

Seasons of Interest:

  • mid spring,
  • late spring,
  • late summer,
  • early fall,
  • mid fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • White

Shape or Form:

  • Broad,
  • Round

Growth Rate:

  • Moderate

Transplants Well:

  • No


  • Insect pollinators,
  • Migrant birds

More Information:

Tree & Plant Care

This species may be difficult to find in nurseries.  The long thorns may make it difficult to prune.
Avoid poorly drained areas.

Disease, pests, and problems

Common problems include cedar-rust diseases, fireblight, cankers, leaf miners, borers, mite.
Branches are armed with thorns.

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.

Native geographic location and habitat

C-Value: 4

Native to the northern half of the United States.

Bark color and texture 

Bark is rough and slightly shaggy with age.
This plant has 2 inch long thorns on the stems.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Simple, alternate  leaves are oval-shaped and coarsely toothed.  Leaves are dark green in summer, changing to orange and purplish-red in fall.

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) that are about 1/2 inch in diameter.

Location of Crataegus coccinea (Scarlet hawthorn) at the Arboretum