Plant DetailShow Menu

Apple Hawthorn Crataegus aestivalis

Previously known as:

  • Crataegus luculenta
  • Crataegus maloides
Phonetic Spelling
krah-TEE-gus es-TIV-ah-liss
Description

Mayhaw is a native hawthorn, a deciduous shrub in the rose family and found in shallow ponds, wet woods and seasonal swamps along the coastal plains of the southeastern USA and the mountain ridges to the west. It is one of the many species of Hawthorn found throughout North Carolina. Mayhaw, like other Hawthorns, can be grown as a large shrub or trained into a small tree.  It is slow-growing to 30 to 40 feet tall with a rounded crown. It has long, straight thorns, showy clusters of white flowers that occur in early spring and are followed by edible red fruits that ripen earlier than other hawthorns from June to July. 

Although it naturally grows in wet sites it is adaptable to the drier sites in the home landscape and is sometime grown as an ornamental. It prefers full sun but will tolerate partial shade and is adaptable to soil types. Use as a specimen, hedge, screening or a small shade tree.  Because it tolerates a wide variety of sites, this species can be used to stabilize banks and to give protection from erosion.

Problems, disease, Insects: 

No known problems. Can be susceptible to rust. Mayhaw is the most disease resistant of the hawthorns. Twigs are thorny. 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#hummingbirds#showy flowers#small tree#white flowers#wildlife plant#moths#native shrub#showy fruits#NC native#large shrub#red fruits#edible fruits#late spring flowers#early spring flowers#larval host plant#food source summer#mid-spring flowers#spring fruits#Coastal OBL#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#wet soils tolerant#bird friendly#nectar plant late spring#mammals#food source soft mast fruit#butterfly friendly#nectar plant mid-spring#butterfly larvae#pollinators#pollinator garden#bee friendly#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#audubon#red-spotted purple butterfly#gray hairstreak butterfly#viceroy butterflies
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#hummingbirds#showy flowers#small tree#white flowers#wildlife plant#moths#native shrub#showy fruits#NC native#large shrub#red fruits#edible fruits#late spring flowers#early spring flowers#larval host plant#food source summer#mid-spring flowers#spring fruits#Coastal OBL#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#wet soils tolerant#bird friendly#nectar plant late spring#mammals#food source soft mast fruit#butterfly friendly#nectar plant mid-spring#butterfly larvae#pollinators#pollinator garden#bee friendly#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#audubon#red-spotted purple butterfly#gray hairstreak butterfly#viceroy butterflies
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Crataegus
    Species:
    aestivalis
    Family:
    Rosaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The plant has little commercial value, but is sometimes used in herbal medicine. Wood is strong, tough, and hard, but rarely used.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southeastern North America
    Distribution:
    North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi
    Wildlife Value:
    This plant provides nectar for pollinators. It is a larval host plant for Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus), Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis astyanax), and Viceroy (Limenitis archippus). Red-spotted Purple and Viceroy rarely use this host plant in North Carolina. Deer will browse the stems.
    Play Value:
    Edible fruit
    Wildlife Cover/Habitat
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Heat and drought tolerant.
    Edibility:
    Fruits used to make mayhaw jelly and pies or can be dried. Frequently used and much prized in parts of southern N. America where it is often gathered in quantity from the wild. Its acid flavor adds to preserves and jellies
    Dimensions:
    Height: 10 ft. 0 in. - 40 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 35 ft. 0 in. - 40 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Native Plant
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Horizontal
    Rounded
    Spreading
    Vase
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Coarse
    Appendage:
    Thorns
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Frequent Standing Water
    Moist
    Occasionally Wet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a, 10a, 10b, 11b, 11a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Pome
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Half to one inch fruits are fleshy and ripen earlier than other hawthorns. Red fruit displays from June to July. Some have sweet edible flesh surrounding seeds.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Solitary
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Cup
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Description:
    White 5-petaled flowers bloom from March to May either singularly or in clusters of 2-3. The fragrance can be pleasant to some, but unpleasant to others.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Obovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Crenate
    Lobed
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Two to four inch long dark green oval, wedge-shaped leaves are often three-lobed, notched on the edges, veined, and have red/brown undersides. Margins are toothed.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Form:
    Zig Zags
    Stem Description:
    Bark is thin and grey. On old stems, it breaks up into thin, narrow scales. Crooked spiny branches.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Edible Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Barrier
    Flowering Tree
    Hedge
    Small Tree
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Wet Soil