Crataegus viridis (Black Hawthorn) is a deciduous tree or large shrub that belongs to the Rosaceae family. Black Hawthorn typically grows to a height of 5-10 meters (16-33 feet) and has a rounded to irregular crown. The branches often have thorns, which can vary in size and density depending on the variety. The leaves are alternate, lobed, and have serrated edges. They are typically dark green and turn shades of yellow, orange, or red in the fall.
Flowers: In late spring or early summer, Black Hawthorn produces clusters of small, white flowers. The flowers have five petals and are often fragrant. They attract pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, and provide a beautiful display.
Fruits: Following the flowers, Black Hawthorn produces small, spherical fruits called haws. The haws are initially green and turn dark purple or black as they mature. They persist on the tree into late autumn or winter and provide a food source for birds and wildlife. The haws are edible for humans as well, but they are typically quite sour and are not commonly consumed.
Landscape Use: Black Hawthorn is valued for its ornamental qualities and is often used in native plantings, woodland gardens, or naturalized areas. It can also be planted as a specimen tree or in mixed borders. Its attractive flowers, colorful fruits, and fall foliage make it visually appealing throughout the seasons.
Growing Conditions: Black Hawthorn thrives in full sun to partial shade and prefers well-drained soil. It can tolerate a range of soil types, including sandy, loamy, or clay soils. It is relatively adaptable and can tolerate both dry and moist conditions. Once established, it is generally low-maintenance and requires minimal pruning.
Wildlife Value: The fruits of Black Hawthorn are highly attractive to birds, providing a valuable food source during the winter months. The dense branching structure also offers cover and nesting sites for birds, making it beneficial for wildlife habitat.
Black Hawthorn, Crataegus viridis, is a beautiful tree or large shrub that adds beauty and ecological value to natural areas and gardens. With its attractive flowers, colorful fruits, and wildlife value, it is a popular choice for those seeking a native plant that supports local ecosystems.