Crataegus monogyna

Crataegus monogyna
Crataegus monogyna
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Crataegus
Series: Crataegus[1]
Species: C. monogyna
Binomial name
Crataegus monogyna

Crataegus monogyna, known as common hawthorn or single-seeded hawthorn, is a species of hawthorn native to Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia. It has been introduced in many other parts of the world where it is an invasive weed. Other common names include may, mayblossom, maythorn, quickthorn, whitethorn, motherdie, and haw. This species is one of several that have been referred to as Crataegus oxyacantha, a name that has been rejected by the botanical community as too ambiguous.



The Common Hawthorn is a shrub or small tree 5–14 m tall, with a dense crown. The bark is dull brown with vertical orange cracks. The younger stems bear sharp thorns, 1 to 1.5 cm long. The leaves are 2–4 cm long, obovate and deeply lobed, sometimes almost to the midrib, with the lobes spreading at a wide angle. The upper surface is dark green above and paler underneath.

The hermaphrodite flowers are produced in late spring (May to early June in its native area) in corymbs of 5-25 together; each flower is about 1 cm diameter, and has five white petals, numerous red stamens, and a single style; they are moderately fragrant. They are pollinated by midges and later in the year bear numerous haws. The haw is a small, oval dark red fruit about 1 cm long, berry-like, but structurally a pome containing a single seed. Haws are important for wildlife in winter, particularly thrushes and waxwings; these birds eat the haws and disperse the seeds in their droppings.

It is distinguished from the related but less widespread Midland Hawthorn (C. laevigata) by its more upright growth, the leaves being deeply lobed, with spreading lobes, and in the flowers having just one style, not two or three. However they are inter-fertile and hybrids occur frequently; they are only entirely distinct in their more typical forms.


Medicinal use

Crataegus monogyna is one of the most common species used as the "hawthorn" of traditional herbalism, which is of considerable interest for treating cardiac insufficiency by evidence-based medicine. The plant parts used medicinally are usually sprigs with both leaves and flowers, or alternatively the fruit. Several species of Crataegus have both traditional and modern medicinal uses. It is a good source of antioxidant phytochemicals,especially extracts of hawthorn leaves with flowers.[2]

In gardening and agriculture

Common Hawthorn is extensively planted as a hedge plant, especially for agricultural use. Its spines and close branching habit render it effectively stock and human proof with some basic maintenance. The traditional practice of hedge laying is most commonly practiced with this species. It is a good fire wood which burns with a good heat and little smoke.[3]

Numerous hybrids exist, some of which are used as garden shrubs. The most widely used hybrid is C. × media (C. monogyna × C. laevigata) , of which several cultivars are known, including the very popular 'Paul's Scarlet' with dark pink double flowers. Other garden shrubs that have sometimes been suggested as possible hybrids involving the Common Hawthorn[citation needed], include the Various-leaved Hawthorn of the Caucasus, which is only very occasionally found in parks and gardens.

Edible "berries", petals, and leaves

The fruit of hawthorn, called haws, are edible, but are commonly made into jellies, jams, and syrups, used to make wine, or to add flavour to brandy, rather than eaten fresh. Botanically they are pomes, but they look similar to berries. A haw is small and oblong, similar in size and shape to a small olive or grape, and red when ripe. Haws develop in groups of 2-3 along smaller branches. They are pulpy and delicate in taste. In this species (C. monogyna) they have only one seed, but in other species of hawthorn there may be up to 5 seeds.

Petals are also edible,[4] as are the leaves, which if picked in spring when still young are tender enough to be used in salads.[5]

Notable trees

An ancient specimen, and reputedly the oldest tree of any species in France, is to be found alongside the church at Saint Mars sur la Futaie, Mayenne [1]. The tree has a height of 9 m, and a girth of 2.65 m (2009). The inscription on the plaque beneath reads: "This hawthorn is without doubt the oldest tree of France. Its origin goes back to St Julien (3rd century)", but such claims are impossible to verify.

A famous specimen in England, the Glastonbury Thorn, was noteworthy because it flowered twice in a year, once in the late spring which is normal, but also once after the harshness of midwinter has passed. The original specimen at Glastonbury Abbey, now long dead, has been propagated as the cultivar 'Biflora'.[6]

The oldest known living specimen in East Anglia, and possibly in the United Kingdom, is known as "The Hethel Old Thorn",[7] and is located in the churchyard in the small village of Hethel, south of Norwich, in Norfolk. It is reputed to be more than 700 years old, having been planted in the 13th century.[7]

See also


  1. ^ Christensen, K.I. (1992). Revision of Crataegus sect. Crataegus and nothosect. Crataeguineae (Rosaceae-Maloideae) in the Old World. Systematic Botany Monographs. 35: 1–199.
  2. ^ Oztürk N, Tunçel M.,"Assessment of Phenolic Acid Content and In Vitro Antiradical Characteristics of Hawthorn." J Med Food. 2011 May 9;
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Crataegus monogyna". Survival and Self Sufficiency. Retrieved 9 September 2011. 
  5. ^ Richard Mabey, Food for Free, Collins, October 2001.
  6. ^ Phipps, J.B.; O’Kennon, R.J.; Lance, R.W. 2003. Hawthorns and medlars. Royal Horticultural Society, Cambridge, U.K.
  7. ^ a b "Hethel Old Thorn" from The Wildlife Trusts, UK. Accessed 18 February, 2007
  • Philips, R. (1979). Trees of North America and Europe, Random House, Inc., New York. ISBN 0-394-50259-0.

External links

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  • Crataegus monogyna — ID 22425 Symbol Key CRMO3 Common Name oneseed hawthorn Family Rosaceae Category Dicot Division Magnoliophyta US Nativity Introduced to U.S. US/NA Plant Yes State Distribution AK, AR, CA, CT, DC, DE, IL, KY, MA, ME, MI, MT, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OR, PA …   USDA Plant Characteristics

  • Crataegus monogyna — noun European hawthorn having deeply cleft leaves and bright red fruits; widely cultivated in many varieties and often grown as impenetrable hedges; established as an escape in eastern North America • Syn: ↑English hawthorn • Hypernyms: ↑hawthorn …   Useful english dictionary

  • Crataegus monogyna — Eengriflet tjørn …   Danske encyklopædi

  • Crataegus monogyna Jacq. — Symbol CRMO3 Common Name oneseed hawthorn Botanical Family Rosaceae …   Scientific plant list

  • Crataegus monogyna Jacq. var. rosea (Willd.) K. Koch — Symbol CRME14 Synonym Symbol CRMOR3 Botanical Family Rosaceae …   Scientific plant list

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