The taxonomy of Crataegus species has historically been very confused, with over 1,200 different species recognized by some authors in the past. This number has been gradually and very significantly reduced, especially since the publication of several regional studies carried out since the late 1980’s, and current thinking is that the final number could be below 150 distinct species[
]. Many of the genera that were included in this database prior to 2017 will now be treated as synonyms or subspecies, and it is likely that a number of other currently accepted species will also receive that fate once a complete revision of the genus (underway in 2015) has been published.
Mespilus monogyna (Jacq.) All.
Oxyacantha monogyna (Jacq.) M.Roem.
Crataegus oxyacantha monogyna (Jacq.) Syme
Mespilus oxyacantha monogyna (Jacq.) Čelak.
Crataegus aegeica Pojark.
Crataegus aguilaris Sennen
Crataegus alemanniensis Cinovskis
Crataegus alutacea Klokov
Crataegus apiifolia Medik.
Crataegus azarella Griseb.
Crataegus borealoides R.Döll
Crataegus bracteolaris Gand.
Crataegus brevispina Kunze
Crataegus chlorocarpa Gand.
Crataegus cuneata Halácsy
Crataegus curvisepaloides R.Döll
Crataegus debeauxii Gand. & Debeaux
Crataegus dissecta Borkh.
Crataegus diversifolia (Pers.) M.Roem.
Crataegus elegans (Poir.) Mutel
Crataegus floribunda Gand.
Crataegus granatensis Boiss.
Crataegus hirsuta Schur
Crataegus inermis Sennen
Crataegus insegnae (Guss.) Bertol.
Crataegus integerrima R.Döll
Crataegus intermedia Schur
Crataegus jacquinii (A.Kern.) Dalla Torre & Sarnth.
Crataegus krima R.Döll
Crataegus krumbholzii R.Döll
Crataegus kyrtostyla Fingerh.
Crataegus lamprophylla Gand.
Crataegus lasiocarpa Lange
Crataegus leiomonogyna Klokov
Crataegus lipskyi Klokov
Crataegus maroccana Pers.
Crataegus maura L.f.
Crataegus oligacantha Gand.
Crataegus orientobaltica Cinovskis
Crataegus panachaica C.K.Schneid.
Crataegus parvifolia Lojac.
Crataegus paucifoliata Pau
Crataegus petiolulata Gand
Crataegus popovii Chrshan.
Crataegus praearmata Klokov
Crataegus pulchella Gand.
Crataegus segobricensis (Pau) Willk.
Crataegus septempartita Pojark.
Crataegus stevenii Pojark.
Crataegus subborealis Cinovskis
Crataegus subintegriloba Pojark.
Crataegus sublucens Gand.
Crataegus subserrata Gand.
Crataegus thyrsoidea Gand.
Crataegus triloba Poir.
Crataegus villosa Peterm.
Crataegus xeromorpha Pojark.
Mespilus brevispina (Kunze) E.H.L.Krause
Mespilus diversifolia (Pers.) Poir.
Mespilus elegans Poir.
Mespilus fissa Poir.
Mespilus insegnae Guss.
Mespilus maroccana (Pers.) Poir.
Mespilus maura (L.f.) Poir.
Mespilus oliveriana Poir.
Mespilus polyacantha Guss.
Mespilus triloba (Poir.) Poir.
Oxyacantha apiifolia (Mutel) M.Roem.
Oxyacantha azarella (Griseb.) M.Roem.
Oxyacantha elegans (Poir.) M.Roem.
Oxyacantha granatensis (Boiss.) M.Roem.
Oxyacantha kyrtostyla (Fingerh.) M.Roem.
Crataegus azarolus triloba (Poir.) Nyman
Crataegus curvisepala colorata Hrabětová
Crataegus oxyacantha maura (L.f.) Maire
Common Name: Hawthorn
Crataegus monogyna is a thorny, deciduous shrub or a tree with a rounded head of dense branches gracefully pendulous at the ends; it usually grows 4 - 10 metres tall, occasionally reaching 12 metres[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials. It is often grown as an ornamental in gardens, where it can be used to make an excellent thorny hedge.
Europe, excluding Iceland and Russia; N. Africa - Morocco to Tunisia; W. Asia - Turkey, the Caucasus, the Levant, Syria, Iraq, Iran
Woods, hedges, thickets etc, on most soils except wet peat and poor acid sands[
]. Slopes of riverbanks, terraces, and gullies, among shrubs, deciduous forest edges; usually solitary[
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Crataegus monogyna is a very hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to at least -18°c[
A very easily grown plant, it prefers a well-drained moisture retentive loamy soil but is not at all fussy[
]. Succeeds in all but the very poorest acid soils[
]. Once established, it succeeds in excessively moist soils and also tolerates drought[
]. It grows well on a chalk soil and also in heavy clay soils[
]. A position in full sun is best when plants are being grown for their fruit, they also succeed in semi-shade though fruit yields and quality will be lower in such a position[
]. Most members of this genus succeed in exposed positions, they also tolerate atmospheric pollution[
Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus and with Crataegus laevigata in the wild[
There are many named forms selected for their ornamental value[
Many Crataegus species are very variable with regard to fruit size and quality. Seedlings, even if obtained from a good fruiting form, can often be disappointing - though they can also be an improvement on the original form. The most reliable way of obtaining a good fruiting form is by grafting from a known good tree, or obtaining a named cultivar from a reliable source[
Seedling trees take from 5 - 8 years before they start bearing fruit, though grafted trees will often flower heavily in their third year[
The flowers have a foetid smell somewhat like decaying fish. This attracts midges which are the main means of fertilization. When freshly open, the flowers have more pleasant scent with balsamic undertones[
Seedlings should not be left in a seedbed for more than 2 years without being transplanted[
]. In heavier shade they quickly become drawn and leggy, eventually dying[
An important food plant for the caterpillars of many lepidoptera species[
], there are 149 insect species associated with this tree[
Plants are susceptible to fireblight[
Fruit - raw or cooked[
]. Not very appetizing raw[
], it is normally used for making jams and preserves[
]. The fruit can be dried, ground, mixed with flour and used for making bread etc[
]. The fruit is about 1cm in diameter[
]. There are up to five fairly large seeds in the centre of the fruit, these often stick together and so the effect is of eating a cherry-like fruit with a single seed[
Pomes sometimes bright, usually dark red, orbicular to ± cylindric, 6–11 mm diameter[
Young shoots - raw[
]. A pleasant nutty flavour[
], they are a good addition to the salad bowl[
A tea is made from the dried leaves[
], it is a china tea substitute.
The roasted seeds are a coffee substitute[
The flowers are used in syrups and sweet puddings[
Hawthorn is an extremely valuable medicinal herb. It is used mainly for treating disorders of the heart and circulation system, especially angina[
]. Western herbalists consider it a 'food for the heart', it increases the blood flow to the heart muscles and restores normal heart beat[
]. This effect is brought about by the presence of bioflavonoids in the fruit, these bioflavonoids are also strongly antioxidant, helping to prevent or reduce degeneration of the blood vessels[
The fruit is antispasmodic, cardiac, diuretic, sedative, tonic and vasodilator[
]. Both the fruits and flowers of hawthorns are well-known in herbal folk medicine as a heart tonic and modern research has borne out this use. The fruits and flowers have a hypotensive effect as well as acting as a direct and mild heart tonic[
]. They are especially indicated in the treatment of weak heart combined with high blood pressure[
], they are also used to treat a heart muscle weakened by age, for inflammation of the heart muscle, arteriosclerosis and for nervous heart problems[
]. Prolonged use is necessary for the treatment to be efficacious[
]. It is normally used either as a tea or a tincture[
Hawthorn is combined with ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) to enhance the memory, working by improving the blood supply to the brain[
The bark is astringent and has been used in the treatment of malaria and other fevers[
The roots are said to stimulate the arteries of the heart[
A good hedge plant, it is very tolerant of being cut and of neglect and is able to regenerate if cut back severely, it makes a good thorny stock-proof barrier[
] and resists very strong winds. It is often used in layered hedges[
]. The cultivar 'Stricta' has made a very good hedge 3.5 metres tall in an exposed maritime position at Rosewarne in N. Cornwall[
Wood - very hard and tough, difficult to work. Used for tool handles etc. Valued in turning[
The wood of Crataegus species is generally of good quality, though it is often of too small a size to be of much value. It usually has a red-brown heartwood with a thick band of lighter-coloured, usually pale sapwood. The wood is heavy, extremely hard, tough and close-grained. Where wood of suficient diameter is found it is often greatly prized for use in turnery, and has traditionally been used for purposes such as making tool handles, mallets and other small items[
The wood is a good fuel, giving out a lot of heat[
Seed - this is best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame, some of the seed will germinate in the spring, though most will probably take another year. Stored seed can be very slow and erratic to germinate, it should be warm stratified for 3 months at 15°c and then cold stratified for another 3 months at 4°c[
]. It may still take another 18 months to germinate[
]. Scarifying the seed before stratifying it might reduce this time[
]. Fermenting the seed for a few days in its own pulp may also speed up the germination process[
]. Another possibility is to harvest the seed 'green' (as soon as the embryo has fully developed but before the seedcoat hardens) and sow it immediately in a cold frame. If timed well, it can germinate in the spring[
]. If you are only growing small quantities of plants, it is best to pot up the seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow them on in individual pots for their first year, planting them out in late spring into nursery beds or their final positions. When growing larger quantities, it might be best to sow them directly outdoors in a seedbed, but with protection from mice and other seed-eating creatures. Grow them on in the seedbed until large enough to plant out, but undercut the roots if they are to be left undisturbed for more than two years.