Hawthorn- Zone 3
Characteristics of the tree
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The small red fruit of the hawthorn resembles a small crab-apple in appearance and somewhat in taste. It varies in quality and size among the different species of hawthorn, generally measuring between 1cm and 2cm in diameter. It is usually tart in flavour, but agreeable to eat, either raw or cooked in pies and preserves. There are up to five seeds in the centre of the fruit, but these stick together so that it is more like eating a cherry-like fruit with one seed in the centre. The fruit and flowers of hawthorn are well-known for their medicinal value, particularly for the heart and circulation system. They are used particularly to reduce blood pressure, but must be taken over a long period of time in order to have effect. (Please note, this is not to be taken as medical advice; you should consult a doctor before using plants as medication or in cases of significant health problems.)
Hawthorns are a slow-growing tree native to northeastern North America. The genus includes a wide variety of species with different growth ranges. Our selection comes from the surrounding area in Quebec. Hawthorn can reach heights of 8 metres with crowns spreading almost as wide. Its branches are adorned with strong sharp thorns, and the leaves are dark, glossy green and give a wonderful red and gold display in the fall. In late spring, the tree is adorned with clusters of lovely white flowers, and later in summer with its small red fruit, which often persists through the winter. The hawthorn is highly adaptable to a wide range of soil conditions, but will reach its full potential in rich and well-drained locations. It can survive in partial shade, but prefers very sunny locations, where it will yield better fruit harvests. In the wild, hawthorns are mostly found on the edges of forests, along roadsides or forming dense thickets in open areas.
Hawthorns are great for ornamental planting thanks to their attractive white flowers, striking red fruit and colourful fall leaves. Their bark and the overall appearance are also very pleasing to the eye. Another popular landscaping use for these dense and thorny plants is as a deer proof hedge. They are particularly suited for urban and suburban plantings as they display an impressive resistance to salt and air pollution, while generally not growing tall enough to interfere with overhead wires. Their environmental versatility and relatively expansive root systems make them a good choice for erosion control. The leaves and fruit are both edible, the leaves making a flavourful addition to any fresh salad. If you do not intend to use the fruit yourself, the local birds will be more than happy to feast on them!
The hawthorn tree grows in a bushy form that spreads at least as wide as it is tall. It is a relatively slow-growing tree. This illustration shows a 20-year-old hawthorn tree that has reached 3m (10 feet) in height, with a similar spread. The tree can eventually reach up to 8 metres in height.
You should note that this illustration is meant only to give a general indication of what you can expect, and the growth of your tree might look somewhat different. The development of a tree depends on the soil type, irrigation, fertilisation and climatic conditions.
What we show here is based on our observation of the growth of the hawthorn in zone 4, in rather poor soil. In a colder climate it might be slower, and in richer soil or warmer climates it might be faster.