English hawthorn flowers. Photo Credit: Robert Vidéki, Doronicum Kft., Bugwood.org
English hawthorn shrubs. Robert Vidéki, Doronicum Kft., Bugwood.org
Also known as: common hawthorn, singleseed hawthorn, oneseed hawthorn, Mayblossom
Like invasive blackberry, English hawthorn is an all-too-common weed that is a thorn in landowners and land managers’ side! Commonly growing in vacant lots, forest understories, and along roadsides, this nuisance plant has sharp thorns that can pierce leather gloves! Even worse, English hawthorn threatens endangered Oregon oak woodlands by outcompeting young seedlings.
|Life Cycle:||Perennial (life cycle lasts more than one year)|
|Early Detection and Rapid Response species:||No|
|Height:||Can grow up to 45 feet (14 meters), but more commonly between 6.5 – 20 feet (2 – 6 meters) tall.|
|Leaf Description:||Dark green leaves are alternatively arranged with 3 – 7 deep lobes. Hawthorn’s branches have many stout thorns and are smooth with pale grey bark.|
|Fruit & Flower Description:||The flowers grow in clusters of 5 to 25 and are white. Each flower has 5 petals. The plant also produces egg-shaped, dark-red berries.|
|Bloom Time:||May to early June|
- English hawthorn thrives in a wide variety of habitats including forest understories, meadows, and disturbed areas.
- It prefers moist soils, but established plants can survive in moderate drought conditions.
- English hawthorn is especially problematic in oak woodlands, where it outcompetes native Oregon white oak (Quercus garryana).
- It can also hybridize with native Douglas hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii), creating a weedier, more competitive hybrid species.
- It also grows in thorny thickets that suppress native vegetation and make it difficult for animals to access to water and food.
What you can do about it:
- Pulling or digging up small holly trees or shrubs is easiest in the fall through spring when the ground is damp. Make sure to monitor the area for several years and pull any re-sprouting plants.
- Weed wrenches can assist with removing English hawthorn. If you are in Washington County, we lend these tools for free from our tool library.
English hawthorn looks similar to native Douglas hawthorn. Like English hawthorn, Douglas hawthorn has stout thorns, but its leaves are only weakly lobed and its fruits are blackish, rather than dark red.