Content Detail

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.

  • Family (English) Rose
  • Family (botanic) Rosaceae
  • Planting site Residential and parks, Under utility lines, Wide median
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • 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
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Dry sites, Occasional drought, Road salt
  • 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
  • Wildlife Insect pollinators, Migrant birds
  • Has cultivars Yes

Native geographic location and habitat:

C-Value: 4 Scarlet hawthorn is 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.  They are small creamy white flowers in broad, flat clusters that bloom late spring.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions: 

This tree yields persistent red fruits (pomes) that are about 1/2 inch in diameter.

Plant care:

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

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

Common problems include cedar-rust diseases, fire blight, cankers, leaf miners, borers, and mites.Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.  Branches are armed with thorns.


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