COMMON NAME: WASHINGTON HAWTHORN
BOTANICAL NAME: Crataegus phaenopyrum (krah-TEEG-us file-no-PIE-rum)
Rosaceae (Rose Family)
Deciduous ornamental tree
HEIGHT: 15 to 25 feet
SPREAD: 10 to 15 feet
FINAL SPACING: 10 to 15 feet
NATURAL HABITAT AND PREFERRED SITE: United States, Europe and North Africa, but Washington hawthorn adapts well to a wide variety of soils in Texas as long as well-drained. Needs full sun.
IDENTIFICATION INFORMATION: Upright, oval, small to medium size ornamental tree with typical hawthorn foliage and long thorns. Very dense plant. Red berries in the fall and winter and yellow fall color.
FLOWERS AND FRUIT: Flowers are white to white pink and generally in clusters in mid to late spring. Fruits are small apple-like berries that form in the fall that are red to red orange.
BARK: Gray to light brown and smooth when young but develops heavier texture with age.
FOLIAGE: Leaves are alternate and simple on slender petals, yellow to yellowish orange in the fall.
CULTURE: Washington hawthorn needs moderate water and fertilization and tolerates a wide range of soils and growing conditions. It is moderately drought resistant and needs moderate amounts of fertilizer. Because it has a strong taproot, it is not easy to transplant.
PROBLEMS: Cedar apple rust is the most severe problem but the Sick Tree Treatment and the overall organic program help considerably. Most books recommend keeping the hawthorns away from Eastern cedars which are the alternate hosts for cedar apple rust. Fireblight can also be a problem.
PROPAGATION: Same as the native hawthorns
INSIGHT: This is a good tree although thorny. It has been my experience that the Washington hawthorn is less susceptible to the rust on the foliage than the native trees - quite interesting.
Q: I have a ten year old Washington hawthorn. In the past 3 years it is showing increasing dieback and I believe its death is imminent. It had previously grown very well. I’ve removed two dead limbs and the other two plants have dead ends and the leaves are slowly dying and dropping. Is it at all possible that tansy planted under it could be affecting it? I know it has allelopathic properties, but it seems unlikely that it could kill an entire tree. I am ready to move the tansy elsewhere, just in case. Is there anything else that could be affecting it? J.J., Richardson.
A: Tansy normally only has power to stunt the growth of annuals and other perennials. I doubt it is the tree's trouble. Maybe it's all the rain. Try the entire Sick Tree Treattment.