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Plants that fill a similar niche:
Crataegus phaenopyrum Crataegus phaenopyrum
Crataegus nitida Form in bloom
Crataegus crus-galli Crataegus crusgalli var. pyricanthifolia - flowers
Crataegus mollis has some common disease problems:
Cedar Apple Rust
Fire Blight

White Thorn Crataegus mollis

Phonetic Spelling
krah-TAY-gus MOL-liss
Description

Crataegus, or Hawthorn, is a genus containing many species and varieties. The small tree or shrub can be found in the low swamps and river bottoms of the east and the higher mountain ridges of the west. Crataegus mollis, commonly called Downy hawthorn, is a handsome tree with tall trunk and compact, rounded crown of spreading branches, large broad hairy leaves, many large flowers, and large scarlet fruit. Downy hawthorn is a wide-spreading tree, 20-40 feet in height, with a 1 to 1 1/2 foot diameter, horizontal branching and varying degrees of thorniness. The bark of the short trunk is silvery and scaly. It usually has a single trunk, but multi-trunk specimens do appear.

One of the largest trees of its genus, Downy Hawthorn was originally called White Thorn. It was introduced into European gardens as early as 1683. The common and Latin species names both refer to the soft hairy foliage.

Downy Hawthorn grows well in moist, fertile soil in full sun, but does tolerate wet soils, heavy clay, and partial shade. It will also tolerate drought and alkaline soil, but does not do well in salt air. This tree is rounded to wide-spreading with varying degrees of thorniness.  Its native habitat includes woodland borders, alluvial thickets, sandy hillsides, fields, and roadsides.  It is deer resistant. While relatively few 1/2 inch long thorns appear on the branches, it should not be planted in areas frequented by children. It tolerates pruning and will resprout if cut back to very old wood and, thus, can be useful as a hedge.

Diseases, Pests, and Other Plant Problems:  

The leaves are vulnerable to cedar-hawthorn rust, scab, and leaf blight. As a result, the leaves are often battered from disease by the end of summer and drop early. it should not be planted near red cedar.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#bees#hummingbirds#thorns#deciduous#full sun#partial shade#perennial#white flowers#wildlife plant#tree#small mammals#low flammability#deer resistant#red fruits#fire resistant#pollinator plant#larval host plant#bird friendly#nectar plant late spring#butterfly friendly#nectar plant mid-spring#pollinator garden#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#red-spotted purple butterfly#gray hairstreak butterfly#viceroy butterfly
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#bees#hummingbirds#thorns#deciduous#full sun#partial shade#perennial#white flowers#wildlife plant#tree#small mammals#low flammability#deer resistant#red fruits#fire resistant#pollinator plant#larval host plant#bird friendly#nectar plant late spring#butterfly friendly#nectar plant mid-spring#pollinator garden#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#red-spotted purple butterfly#gray hairstreak butterfly#viceroy butterfly
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Crataegus
    Species:
    mollis
    Family:
    Rosaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The wood is strong, tough, and heavy, but has little commercial value.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern and Central Northern America
    Distribution:
    Ontario to Alabama and west to Oklahoma
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    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. Hummingbirds, butterflies and other pollinators nectar from the blooms. Songbirds, quail, wild turkeys and small mammals eat the fruit.
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Deer
    Edibility:
    The fruit is edible, raw or cooked, although sub-acid, dry and mealy. The fairly large fruit is used for making jellies and preserves.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 20 ft. 0 in. - 40 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 20 ft. 0 in. - 40 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Oval
    Pyramidal
    Rounded
    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:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    24-60 feet
    more than 60 feet
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4b, 4a, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Pome
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Red apple-like fruit
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Corymb
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Cup
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Profuse, flat-topped 3 inch clusters of 1 inch white, rose-like blossoms. Blooms from April to May. Can have an unpleasant odor that attracts midges for fertilization.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Doubly Serrate
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are 2 to 5 inches long and 2 to 4 inches across, alternate, and simple with sharp serration which has a gray cast in summer. The leaves have a yellow to bronze to bronze-red fall color.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Scaly
    Bark Description:
    Thin, gray, rough bark. On older stems, it breaks up into narrow scales.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Form:
    Zig Zags
    Stem Description:
    Apple-like, zig-zag stem pattern.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Slope/Bank
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Barrier
    Flowering Tree
    Hedge
    Small Tree
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Hummingbirds
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Fire
    Pollution
    Wet Soil