Hawthorn, Crataegus sp.
Rosaceae or Rose Family


Shrub or small tree with wicked long thorns. Leaves simple, not opposite each other, different shapes in different species and sometimes variable within a species, but nearly always toothed, and sometimes lobed. Flowers are similar to those of cherries, white, with five petals. Fruits are tiny berry-sized pomes (an apple is an example of a pome). The Wildwood plants, however, have not been observed to flower or fruit.

A native woodland shrub, though also often cultivated. In the Park, it is occasional in the woods on the east side. An excellent example is found along the Grand Staircase, on the left as one ascends.

Hawthorns are easily recognized as a genus; no other shrub in Wildwood has such formidable thorns. However, the species are extremely difficult to distinguish, and it usually requires leaves, flowers, and fruit to make a determination. Even then, because the species frequently hybridize, it may not be possible to assign an identification. Experts have decided that there are somewhere between less than a hundred and over a thousand species in North America, so even the experts are confused.


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