Common Hawthorn, Single-seed Hawthorn, One-seed Hawthorn
General: Thorny, deciduous small tree or shrub in the Rose family.
Flowers: Small white, sometimes pink flowers are grouped in umbrella-like clusters of 10-20 individuals. The flowers resemble cherry or apple blossoms. Each flower has 5 – 25 stamens with pink-purple anthers that extend past the petals.
Stem: Plants range from 2 – 9 m in height. The stems usually branch from a single trunk. The bark is smooth, pale, and grey; new shoots are reddish. English Hawthorn branches are tipped with thorns.
Leaves: Deeply cleft leaves with 3 – 7 lobes. The leaves resemble mittens and are leathery in texture. They are typically 2 – 5 cm long.
Fruit: One-seeded, drupe-like pome fruits are bright to deep red and elliptic or spherical.
Black Hawthorn (or Douglas’ Hawthorn, Crataegus douglasii) has weakly lobed leaves, flowers with five styles instead of one, and blackish fruits.
Habitat and Origin
English Hawthorn is native to West Asia, Europe, and Northern Africa. It was introduced in the 1800s to Oregon and southern Washington, where it began spreading across the US and Canada.
English Hawthorn grows in lowland areas in many soil types but grows best in moist soil or areas with high precipitation. However, mature plants can survive moderate drought conditions. It can be seen in woodlands, pastures, riparian areas, and meadows. It thrives best in deeper soils.
Propagation & Vectors of Spread
English Hawthorn reproduces through both seeds and vegetative methods. Each tree can produce 2000 berries and therefore 2000 seeds per plant. Germination occurs in spring and vegetative growth occurs in spring and early summer. English Hawthorn can also regenerate from cuttings. An individual plant can live up to 250 years.
English Hawthorn can spread locally by vegetative reproduction through cuttings, but long-distance dispersal occurs through the transport of seeds. The fruits are highly favourable to birds which consume them and transport them great distances. They are primarily dispersed by the American Robin but can also be spread by other animals.
Ecological, Economic, & Health Impacts
- Reduces biodiversity.
- Forms thorny thickets that block animal movement.
- Hybridizes with native Black Hawthorn, which may decrease native populations and create a weedier, more competitive variety.
- Birds may prefer English Hawthorn berries to those of native Black Hawthorn, causing a reduction in the regeneration of native plants.
- Nuisance species in pastures and grazing areas.
What Can I Do?
English Hawthorn is NOT currently found throughout the Sea to Sky Corridor, so the best approach to controlling its spread is by PREVENTION.
Learn to identify English Hawthorn: use the images presented in this profile page to learn how to identify English Hawthorn.
What to do if you spot it: You can report any English Hawthorn sighting by clicking here.
- Ensure soil and gravel are uncontaminated before transport.
- Ensure that plants are disposed of in a garbage bag if found in floral arrangements to prevent seeds from spreading.
- Remove plant material from any equipment, vehicles, or clothing used in such areas and wash equipment and vehicles at designated cleaning sites before leaving infested areas.
- Do not plant English Hawthorn in a garden, no matter how well-contained its enclosure may seem.
- Do not move soil that has been contaminated with English Hawthorn.
- Do not compost!
- Seedlings and young saplings can be pulled or dug up by hand.
- It is easier to pull roots up when the soil is moist, however, it can be difficult even with young saplings, since the roots are deep and the stems have sharp thorns.
- Be sure to wear gloves and other protective clothing.
- Avoid cutting the plant when it is fruiting as this will help disperse the seeds.
- Remove all cuttings from the site as English Hawthorn can regenerate from cuttings.
- Roots are also able to resprout if not removed completely.
- Applying chemical herbicide to cut stumps and the frilling method are the most effective for plants that cannot be manually removed.
- Foliar herbicide treatment may also be effective but may result in spray drift to desirable vegetation.
- We recommend that any herbicide application is carried out by a person holding a valid BC Pesticide Applicator Certificate. Before selecting and applying herbicides, you must review and follow herbicide labels and application rates; municipal, regional, provincial and federal laws and regulations; species-specific treatment recommendations, and site-specific goals and objectives.
There are no approved biological control agents available for English Hawthorn.
- CABI Invasive Species Compendium, English Hawthorn, https://www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/16496
- City of Nanaimo, Controlling Invasive Plants, https://www.nanaimo.ca/docs/services/home-and-property/invasive_plants.pdf
- Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team, Invasive Species in Garry Oak and Associated Ecosystems in BC, https://www.goert.ca/documents/InvFS_cratmono.pdf
- King County Noxious Weed, English Hawthorn, https://www.kingcounty.gov/services/environment/animals-and-plants/noxious-weeds/weed-identification/common-hawthorn.aspx
- Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board, English Hawthorn, https://www.nwcb.wa.gov/weeds/english-hawthorn
- WeedWise Clackamas SWCD, English Hawthorn, https://weedwise.conservationdistrict.org/crmo3