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Crataegus aestivalis: May Hawthorn1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson 2


This slow-growing native North American tree reaches a height of 30 feet with a rounded canopy that spreads to 35 feet or more. The dark green, deciduous leaves are often three-lobed and have red/brown undersides. The leaves display no appreciable fall color. The sparkling white, showy springtime flowers appear before the new leaves unfurl and are followed by the production of large, red-dotted fruits. The spreading, low branching habit of growth makes this best suited for planting in a large open area of turf. If regular pruning can be provided to keep low, drooping branches pruned, it can be located closer to a walk.

Figure 1. Middle-aged Crataegus aestivalis: May Hawthorn
Figure 1.  Middle-aged Crataegus aestivalis: May Hawthorn
Credit: Ed Gilman

General Information

Scientific name: Crataegus aestivalis
Pronunciation: kruh-TEE-gus ess-tih-VAY-liss
Common name(s): May Hawthorn, Apple Hawthorn
Family: Rosaceae
USDA hardiness zones: 6A through 11 (Fig. 2)
Origin: native to North America
Invasive potential: little invasive potential
Uses: reclamation; screen; highway median; specimen
Availability: not native to North America

Figure 2. Range
Figure 2.  Range


Height: 20 to 30 feet
Spread: 35 to 40 feet
Crown uniformity: symmetrical
Crown shape: vase, spreading
Crown density: dense
Growth rate: slow
Texture: fine


Leaf arrangement: alternate (Fig. 3)
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: crenate, serrate
Leaf shape: obovate, elliptic (oval)
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: deciduous
Leaf blade length: less than 2 inches, 2 to 4 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: no color change
Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. Foliage
Figure 3.  Foliage


Flower color: white/cream/gray
Flower characteristics: showy


Fruit shape: round
Fruit length: .5 to 1 inch
Fruit covering: fleshy
Fruit color: red
Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; not showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches droop; not showy; typically one trunk; thorns
Pruning requirement: needed for strong structure
Breakage: resistant
Current year twig color: brown
Current year twig thickness: thin, medium
Wood specific gravity: unknown


Light requirement: full sun, partial sun or partial shade
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; acidic; slightly alkaline; well-drained
Drought tolerance: moderate
Aerosol salt tolerance: unknown


Roots: not a problem
Winter interest: no
Outstanding tree: no
Ozone sensitivity: unknown
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: resistant
Pest resistance: resistant to pests/diseases

Use and Management

May Hawthorn should be grown in full sun or partial shade on well-drained, moist soils. According to Dr. J. C. Raulston at North Carolina State University, this may be one of the best Hawthorns for the south due to superior disease resistance.


1. This document is ENH368, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2006. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at
2. Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #ENH368

Release Date:June 24, 2014

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