Rosaceae, rose family.
Crataegus is Greek for "a kind of thorn." The word stems from the ancient Greek name Krataigos, which the Greek philosopher Theophrastus used to describe a thorny flowering plant. It is a combination of the Greek words kratus meaning "strong," and akakia or akis meaning "thorn."
The species name, marshallii, is named for Humphrey Marshall, the dendrologist who first described this plant.
Parsley Hawthorn, Parsley Haw
The common names of this tree refer to the shape of the leaves, which resemble parsley (Petroselinum crispum).
This small native tree grows up to 20 feet tall and can be found in open to partially shaded areas along the moist edges or slopes of floodplains, river banks, and wet woodlands throughout the southeastern United States. Its leaves are simple, alternate, grow from ¾ to 2 inches long, and appear on slender stalks. The broadly ovate leaves are nearly hairless with 5 to 7 short pointed lobes and serrated (or toothed) edges. The topside of the leaf is shiny and the underside is a pale green, turning red and purple in autumn. The smooth, thin, thorny stems are gray with mottles of brown, which peel off in patches. The small flowers of this tree are approximately 5/8 of an inch wide, with 5 white petals and (usually) 10 red and white stamens. In the spring, flowers grow in clusters on long hairy stalks. By autumn the oblong, bright red haw (similar to a pome) ripens to about 1/3 inch in diameter and persists until the winter.
The double-flowered varieties shed less pollen than single-flowered varieties, but overall, Crataegus spp. are moderately allergenic.
Many species of native hawthorn trees can be found throughout peninsular Florida. Their small size and ability to tolerate poor soil conditions make them a low-maintenance and hardy landscape plant for Florida. Many people find the leaves of this tree aesthetically appealing because they add a delicate touch to the landscape with their fine serrations and lobes.
Crataegus spp. wood is hard and dense. Native Americans and European settlers used the wood of the parsley hawthorn tree for various applications and used its fruit as a food source.
Parsley hawthorn has been used all over the world as an herbal tonic to strengthen the heart. It is currently used as an additive in medicines that reduce high blood pressure.
White tailed deer are attracted to parsley hawthorn because they enjoy browsing on the foliage. Game birds, game animals, songbirds, and rodents use the fruits as a food source, particularly during the winter months, and many song birds use this tree for shelter and nesting.
Austin, D. F. 2004. Florida ethnobotany. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
Borror, D. J. 1988. Dictionary of root words and combining forms (1st ed.). Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company.
Godfrey, R. K. 1988. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of Northern Florida and adjacent Georgia and Alabama. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press.
Haehle, R. J., and J. Brookwell. 2004. Native Florida plants: Low-maintenance landscaping and gardening. Lanham, MD: Taylor Trade Publishing.
Little, E. L. 2005. National Audubon Society field guide to trees, Eastern region. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
Ogren, T. L. 2000. Allergy-free gardening: The revolutionary guide to healthy landscaping. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press.
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. (n.d.). PLANTS database. Retrieved from http://plants.usda.gov/index.html
Miller, J. H., and K. V. Miller. 2005. Forest plants of the Southeast and their wildlife uses (Revised ed.). Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press.
Watkins, J. V., T. J. Sheehan, and R. J. Black. 2005. Florida landscape plants: Native and exotic (Second Revised ed.). Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida.