Content Detail

Downy hawthorn has the typical white flowers and red fruit of hawthorns, but is not always as thorny as other species. This native tree is beautiful, but is prone to the cedar rust diseases. 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.

  • Family (English) Rose
  • Family (botanic) Rosaceae
  • Planting site Residential and parks, Wide median
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Medium tree (25-40 feet), Small tree (15-25 feet)
  • Mature height 20-30 feet
  • Mature width 20-40 feet
  • Light exposure Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Chicago), Zone 6
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Clay soil, Dry sites, Wet sites
  • Season of interest early fall, late spring, late summer, mid fall, mid spring
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Broad, Round
  • Growth rate Moderate
  • Transplants well No
  • Planting considerations Dangerous thorns, May be difficult to find in nurseries, Messy fruit/plant parts
  • Wildlife Game birds, Insect pollinators, Migrant birds, Nesting birds, Songbirds
  • Has cultivars No

Native geographic location and habitat:

C-Value: 2 The Downy hawthorn is common throughout the Midwest and found in a variety of habitats.

Bark color and texture:

The bray bark of this tree is rough and becomes slightly shaggy with age. It has 1 to 2 inch long thorns on the stems.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

The leaves are simple, with alternating leaves, 2 to 4 inches long.  They are wide with doubly-toothed margins and are very hairy early in the season. Its fall color is yellow-brown.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

The small creamy white flowers are unpleasantly scented and grow in broad, flat clusters. Flowers bloom in late spring.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

This tree yields red fruits (pomes).

Plant care:

This tree has very long thorns and should be sited carefully.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

Cedar rust diseases, fire blight, leaf spots, scale and mites are  problems for the Downy hawthorn. It is tolerant of black walnut toxicity.

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