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Washington Hawthorn, Crataegus phaenopyrum



Authors as Published

Alex X. Niemiera, Professor, School of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Virginia Tech (first published February 2012, last reviewed March 2024)


Foliage: About 2 to 3 inches long; alternate; deciduous

Height: About 25 feet

Spread: About 20 feet

Shape: Oval to round

Main Features

Washington hawthorn is a small tree (single or multiple trunks) with showy white flowers in June. Trees produce an abundance of persistent glossy bright red fruit (about 0.25 inches in diameter) that result in a spectacular fruit display that persist into winter months. There are two potential disadvantages associated with the landscape use of this species. First, Washington hawthorn has relatively large thorns (about 1 inch long) that limit its use in pedestrian traffic or playground areas. Secondly, when conditions favor fungal diseases (cool wet springs), the foliage and fruit of Washington hawthorn will be afflicted with rust diseases that render leaves and fruit unsightly. Washington hawthorns, like most other hawthorn species, are relatively tolerant of drought and poor soils.

Plant Needs

Zone: 4 to 8

Light: Full sun to part shade

Moisture: Average

Soil type: Average

pH range: Acid to alkaline


Washington hawthorn serves in most locations where a small tree is appropriate with the caveat that the formidable thorns may pose a liability issue. This species can also be used in groupings to maximize the flower and especially the fruit display. Such a use also creates a wildlife habitat.


Washington hawthorn has a reputation for being somewhat sensitive to transplanting, thus irrigate the rootball to maintain an adequate moisture content.

Additional Information

‘Winter King’ hawthorn (Crataegus viridis ‘Winter King’) is similar to Washington hawthorn.

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Publication Date

March 6, 2024