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Washington Hawthorn Suits Small Gardens

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Virtues: Washington hawthorn (Crataegus pharnopyrum) is a US-native tree that offers white spring flowers, bright fall foliage and bright red winter fruits, which attract birds. This tree grows just 25 to 30 feet tall, making it a choice for smaller spaces, though one must be mindful of its thorns when positioning it.

This fall photograph shows Washington hawthorn with ripe red fruit.

This fall photograph shows Washington hawthorn with ripe red fruit.

Common name: Washington hawthorn

Botanical name:Crataegus phaenopyrum

Exposure: Full sun

Flowers: Clusters of white flowers appear in late spring to early summer, when they feed the bees. Fruit develops and ripens in the fall, persisting into winter, when it feeds songbirds.

Foliage: The toothed leaves emerge in the spring with a red-purple color before deepening to green. The fall foliage color can be orange, red or purple. The branches of the Washington hawthorn are lined with three-inch thorns.

Habit: Washington hawthorn is a smaller tree, reaching just 25 to 30 feet tall with a crown spread of about 20 feet.

Origin: Open woods and stream banks of the Mid-Atlantic states, the Southeast and the lower Midwest of the USA. Its common name, Washington hawthorn, came about because it was first introduced from Washington DC as material for hedging in the 1800s.

How to grow it: This tree is fairly adaptable. It is not picky about soil type or moisture level, tolerating wet soil as well as times of drought. It does require full sun. Plant it where its thorny branches won’t cause trouble. USDA Zones 4–8.

Image credit: F.D. Richards/CC BY-SA 2.0