Crataegus – Popular Shrubs for the Garden

Crataegus oxyacantha


This genus contains the well-known hawthorns, quicks or Mays, useful for informal hedges and a magnificent sight when they foam with white flowers in May, but not really ornamental shrubs in the normal way.

However, there is a very fine form of one of the hawthorns, Crataegus oxyacantha, known botanically as coccinea plena, but possibly better recognized by gardeners as the Double Crimson Thorn. This makes a neat, round-headed tree, about 15 feet in height, useful as a lawn specimen or for a position perhaps by the garden gate. Two, one on each side of the gate, with their heads allowed to grow together, would be even better, especially when they produce their long-lasting crimson flowers in May and June.

No pruning is needed except to remove dead wood or  straying growths that would otherwise spoil the symmetrical shape. The plant is native to the British Isles and will grow in almost any situation.

Crataegus monogyna aurea There are plenty of other crataegus, some, such as Crataegus monogyna aurea, a variant of the common May, with yellow fruits. Others, such as Crataegus arnoldiana, have very large fruits, as big as cherries, while those of Crataegus arkansana, are even bigger. Crataegus amoldiana, incidentally, is fearsomely armed, its thorns sometimes 3 inches long.

One of the daintiest of this genus is Crataegus tanacetifolia, the Tansy-leaved Thorn, with attractive deeply-lobed grey-green leaves and large flowers, up to an inch across. The yellow fruits have the same diameter, hanging like small apples. This eventually makes a taller tree than most of these crataegus, reaching about 30 feet in height.

14. October 2010 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Herbaceous Plants, Plants & Trees | Tags: , | Comments Off on Crataegus – Popular Shrubs for the Garden


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