Botanical name: Crataegus

Common name: Hawthorn

Common in hedgerows, the blossom of these trees is a sign of warmer, longer days. Small round fruits and autumn leaf colour extend their season of interest. Versatile in use, they can be grown as hedges, shrubs or trees that thrive on a range of soils and in exposed situations. The tree provides a good wildlife habitat, with masses of nectar-rich flowers for insects and autumn berries, known as haws, offering food for birds.


Mature specimens are medium sized trees with pendulous branches along which clusters of small, cup-shaped white or pink-red flowers emerge in spring. Red or orange, elongated berries follow in autumn, often persisting through winter. With dense thorny branches, they also make an excellent hedging plant.  


Hawthorns will grow in most soil types, in sun or light shade. They are tolerant of exposed sites and urban pollution.


Hawthorns do not do well in permanently waterlogged soil and will not flower in deep shade.

Did you know?

The old English saying ‘Ne'er cast a clout till May be out’ is believed to mean – you shouldn't remove warm clothing (clout) until hawthorn (also known as May) is flowering. Some people believe it refers to the month of May; either interpretation reminds us how changeable UK weather can be in late spring. 

Growing guide

Hawthorn trees

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Birds in your garden

Birds in your garden

Buying: trees and shrubs

Buying: trees and shrubs

Hedges: planting

Hedges: planting

Shrubs and trees: light pruning

Shrubs and trees: light pruning

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