Washington Hawthorn

All About the Washington Hawthorn:

Scientific Nomenclature: Crataegus phaenopyrum

Common Names: Washington hawthorn, Washington thorn

Mature Height: 20–30 feet

Mature Spread: 20–25 feet

Growth Rate: Moderate

Attracts Wildlife: Birds, butterflies, pollinators and other small mammals

Messiness: Drops leaves in autumn. Blooms in the spring, lasting up to 10 days. The odor of the white flowers may be unpleasant to some and is known to attract midges. Glossy red pome clusters form in the fall and persist through winter, dropping in early spring. Thin, gray bark breaks up into narrow scales as the tree ages; bark will flake off exposing orange-red inner bark. Also boasts slender 1–3-inch-long thorns that can be somewhat dangerous, though there are a few thornless cultivars.

Shape: Oval, pyramidal, round

Native to Kentucky: Yes

Preferred Soils: Washington hawthorns prefer well-drained soils of all pHs, acidic (<6.0pH), neutral (6.0–8.0pH) or alkaline (>8.0pH). The tree is very adaptable, it tolerates urban pollution and will tolerate being planted in heavy clay soils, loam, sand and shallow rocky soils. It also tends to tolerate moist or very dry soils well.

Screening: Washington hawthorn is often planted as a screening/privacy tree, pruned and maintained as a hedge, or planted as a border feature.

Drought Tolerance: This tree is resistant to drought, fire, heat and urban pollution.

Coniferous or Deciduous: Deciduous

Pruning: Prune Washington hawthorns regularly to remove any broken or dead branches as well as any cross branches or sprouts from near the base of the tree. It must be pruned regularly as well if being maintained as a shrub, trimming the top branches and leaves if they grow too high. If being left as a tree the lower limbs can (and sometimes should) be cut to create a single trunk.

Climate Quick Facts:

Following being planted as a sapling, over 20 years one Washington hawthorn will:

  • Sequester ~669 pounds of CO2.
  • Reduce stormwater runoff by 261 gallons