Crataegus crusgalli - Cockspur Hawthorn
Family: Rosaceae

Hear the scientific name

Crataegus crusgalli is a small tree with horizontal, spreading branches and a flat-topped shape at maturity. Cockspur Hawthorn is known for its showy white inflorescences, brick-red fruits, glossy summer and vibrant, multi-colored autumn foliage, and bold winter texture.

F   E   A   T   U   R   E   S
  form2 form Form

-small ornamental tree

-maturing at about 15' tall x 20' wide

-horizontal spreading growth habit, becoming flat-topped with age

-slow growth rate in the vertical dimension, but medium growth rate in the horizontal direction

foliage Foliage

-dark glossy to waxy green, about 3" long, alternate, short-petioled, strongly obovate with a long cuneate base (i.e., spatulate), with fine marginal serrations on the upper widened portion of the leaf blade

-leaves are held distinctly upright above the stem, and in a V-shaped staggered arrangement if one looks down the axis of the stem

-autumn color is often a showy multi-colored array of red, purple, orange, and yellow waxy leaves on the tree at the same time, coloring in late Oct. and early Nov.


-white 2" wide inflorescences blanket the tree in late May, effective for 1-2 weeks and malodorous


-green turning to orange by Sept., then to brick red in Nov. and often persistent into Jan. or later

-clusters of pendulous 0.5" round fruits make this a very attractive ornamental tree in early winter (similar to some Crabapples [Malus])

-readily eaten by birds and squirrels


-red-brown stems with small buds, with the older stems and branches becoming gray

-thorns are very prominent, to 2" long, slightly curved, downturned on the lower half of the stems and very prominent (hence the common name of Cockspur Hawthorn, in resembling a rooster's or "cock's" curved spur)

-very densely twiggy and thorny, especially with age

-thornless cultivars are now the norm in the trade

trunk Trunk

-often multi-trunked and armed on the trunk with prominently branched thorns that are a potential liability (except for thornless forms)

-often limbed up with age, as branching is naturally low for this relatively short and horizontally branching tree

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-full sun to partial sun

-very urban tolerant, including adaptability to poor soils, various soil pHs, compacted soils, drought, heat, and winter salt spray

-propagated by seeds or by stem cuttings grafted onto seedling rootstock

-there are several potential pests (including leaf blotch miner) and diseases (especially rusts, with the stereotype being cedar hawthorn rust that affects the fruit, foliage, and stems)

-moderately available (for thornless cultivar)


-zones 3 to 7


-native to the Northern and Midwestern U.S. and Southern Canada

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-very urban tolerant

-winter salt spray tolerant

-four-season accent ornamental tree

-horizontally spreading growth habit and bold texture is very distinctive and architecturally useful in the landscape, especially in winter

-showy white inflorescence in mid-spring

-glossy dark green summer foliage turns to a multi-colored array of color in autumn

-crabapple-like brick red fruits mature in late summer and are retained into early winter

-fruits, dense branches, and prominent thorns (in the species form) attract wildlife for food and refuge


-malodorous inflorescences

-thorns can be a liability

-fruit litter in winter is a potential liability in heavy pedestrian traffic areas

-several significant pests and diseases, some strictly cosmetic in effect, while others may lead to a decline in the overall vigor of the tree


-focal point, specimen, street, deciduous screen, tall barrier hedge, seasonal accent, entranceway, group planting, or wildlife attraction tree


-medium texture in foliage but bold when bare

-thick density when in foliage and when bare

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Varieties and Cultivars - Search OSU PlantFacts for additional plants in this species


-small trees with good multi-season effect (Acer palmatum, Amelanchier, Cornus florida, Malus, etc.)

-trees or large shrubs serving as wildlife food sources and refuges (Crataegus phaenopyrum, Lonicera tatarica, Viburnum prunifolium, etc.)


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