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Trees and shrubs for windy sites - Crataegus – Hawthorns

Commonly called Hawthorns in Britain, Crataegus is originally a Greek name, Krataigos, which refers to the strength of the hawthorn’s hard wood.

There are many varieties of Crataegus, featuring broad as well as lobed leaves. Aside from the native hawthorn, which produces thick hedges, there are also ornamental varieties of crataegus that can make for some lovely garden trees, due to the variety of flower colour on show – some feature good autumn colour too.

One of the hardiest native trees is the Crataegus monogyna (or the common hawthorn), which is often seen wind pruned and durable; coping in exposed sites where other plants would suffer. Hawthorns are also notable for being able to tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, as long as the soil is not in drastically poor condition.

Naturally, if left to grow as a tree, the hawthorn can reach heights of up to 6m (depending on the site). This, along with its dense branching pattern, means that hawthorn trees are generally good for screening.

Traditionally used for hedging, either just as a single species or mixed with other plants, it is thorny and bushy enough to be made stock proof.

The flowers of the crataegus monogyna in May/June are an important source of nectar for insects and the red berries (or haws), an important food source for birds and small mammals in autumn and winter.

Finally, Hawthorns can regenerate effectively when cut back to the ground.

Examples of Ornamental Hawthorns:

Crataegus laevigata ‘Paul’s Scarlet’

A small round headed tree that can ultimately grow to up 4-8m in height, with scarlet pink flowers in spring and small round haws in autumn.

crataegus pauls scarlet 400

Crataegus alba Plena

A similar round-headed tree like the Paul’s Scarlet, but with double white flowers which age to pink.

crat mono 400

Crataegus prunifolia Splendens

A small round headed tree ultimately 5-7m in height, broad glossy leaves which turn, gold, orange and red in autumn at the same time as the plentiful berries that ripen to bright red. Good for screening. A real gem.

crataegus prunifolia splendens 400

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