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Crataegus viridis 'Winter King': 'Winter King' Southern Hawthorn1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson 2


'Winter King' southern hawthorn is a North American native tree which slowly reaches 20 to 30 feet in height and spread. It is very dense and thorny which makes it a popular choice for use as a hedge or as a screen. Unlike other hawthorns, the thorns are small and inconspicuous. The dark green, deciduous leaves turn beautiful shades of bronze, red, and gold in the fall before dropping. The handsome, silver-grey bark peels off in sections to reveal the inner orange bark, making 'Winter King' southern hawthorn a striking specimen planting in the winter landscape. The white blooms are followed by large, orange/red fruits which persist on the naked tree throughout the winter, adding to its landscape interest. The tree was originally selected for the outstanding winter berry color. The original tree from which the cultivar was selected is about 100 years old and 25 feet tall.

Figure 1. Middle-aged Crataegus viridis 'Winter King': 'Winter King' Southern Hawthorn
Figure 1.  Middle-aged Crataegus viridis 'Winter King': 'Winter King' Southern Hawthorn

General Information

Scientific name: Crataegus viridis
Pronunciation: kruh-TEE-gus VEER-ih-diss
Common name(s): 'Winter King' southern hawthorn, 'Winter King' green hawthorn
Family: Rosaceae
USDA hardiness zones: 4A through 7B (Fig. 2)
Origin: native to North America
Invasive potential: little invasive potential
Uses: specimen; screen; hedge; reclamation; urban tolerant; container or planter; street without sidewalk; tree lawn 3–4 feet wide; tree lawn 4–6 feet wide; tree lawn > 6 ft wide; parking lot island < 100 sq ft; parking lot island 100–200 sq ft; parking lot island > 200 sq ft
Availability: not native to North America

Figure 2. Range
Figure 2.  Range


Height: 20 to 30 feet
Spread: 20 to 30 feet
Crown uniformity: symmetrical
Crown shape: vase, round
Crown density: moderate
Growth rate: moderate
Texture: fine


Leaf arrangement: alternate (Fig. 3)
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: lobed, serrate
Leaf shape: ovate
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: deciduous
Leaf blade length: less than 2 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: very showy


Fruit shape: round
Fruit length: less than .5 inch, .5 to 1 inch
Fruit covering: fleshy
Fruit color: red, orange
Fruit characteristics: attracts birds; showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches droop; showy; typically multi-trunked; no thorns
Pruning requirement: needed for strong structure
Breakage: resistant
Current year twig color: brown, reddish
Current year twig thickness: medium
Wood specific gravity: unknown


Light requirement: full sun
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; acidic; alkaline; well-drained; occasionally wet
Drought tolerance: high
Aerosol salt tolerance: low


Roots: not a problem
Winter interest: yes
Outstanding tree: yes
Ozone sensitivity: unknown
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: resistant
Pest resistance: resistant to pests/diseases

Use and Management

The multiple trunks and wide pyramidal to rounded shape make this adaptable tree well suited for the low maintenance landscape as a specimen. If lower branches are removed from the trunks, a more vase shape can be maintained. It has become quite popular and is available in many areas.

'Winter King' southern hawthorn should be grown in full sun on well-drained soil. It is a very adaptable tree well suited for the urban landscape. The short thorns are usually not a problem, even on trees planted near streets. It is among the best of the many hawthorns that are available, receiving the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's 1992 Styer Gold Medal Award.

Transplant in the spring for best establishment.

Propagation is by grafting.


Problem pests are aphids, borers, caterpillars, and leaf miners.


It is susceptible to cedar-hawthorn rust but is more resistant than the species.


1. This document is ENH373, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Reviewed June 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 #ENH373

Release Date:June 16, 2014

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