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Rhaphiolepis indica

Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Crataegus indica
  • Mespilus indica
  • Pyrus rhaphiolepis
Phonetic Spelling
raf-i-o-LE-pis IN-di-ka
Description

Indian hawthorn is a dense, rounded, mounding broadleaf evergreen shrub that grows 4 to 6 feet tall and equally as wide. In the spring, small fragrant white or pink flowers are born on panicles that cover the shrub. Dark berries appear after flowering and persist through the winter months. Birds and small mammals are attracted to the fruit. The leaves are leathery, oblong, alternate, serrate, and appear whorled at the ends of the stems. Initially, they emerge as bronze colored and transition to deep green. It is a member of the Rosaceae or rose family.

It is a native to southern China and is found on slopes and, along streams, roadsides near woodlands, 

The genus name, Rhaphiolepsis, is from the Greek words rhaphis which means needle, and lepis which refers to a scale on the bracteole of the flowers. The epithet, indica, translates as "of India."

Indian Hawthorn is winter hardy from hardiness zones 8 to 10. It is not cold tolerant. This shrub prefers full sun. It tolerates light shade, but the best flowering and resistance to fungal diseases occur in full sun. Moist, well-drained soils are needed although established shrubs have some drought tolerance. To prevent leaf spots, avoid wetting the leaves by avoiding the use of sprinklers. Pruning is best done after flowering in the spring. This shrub is browsed and enjoyed by deer. 

Frequently, this species is not found in the landscape. Commercially, plants may be listed as Rhaphiolepsis indica when they are a hybrid R. x delacouri which is a cross between R. indica and R. umbellata. 

It is often utilized in the coastal plains, as a specimen plant, in mass plantings, foundation planting, border planting, screens, containers, banks, or hedges.

Seasons of Interest:

Bloom:  Spring                 Foliage:  Year-round               Fruits:  Summer and Fall

Quick ID Hints:

  • broadleaf evergreen, dense, rounded shrub, 4 to 6 feet tall and wide
  • purplish-brown stems when young, grayish brown with age
  • lanceolate to elliptical, leathery, serrate margins, simple, alternate, bronze to deep green leaves
  • small white to pinkish carb-apple-like flowers in clusters from April to May
  • bluish-black berries appear in the late summer and persist through winter

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: The shrub is susceptible to leaf spots, aphids, scale, fire blight, and nematodes. Entomosporium leaf spot is the most common disease of this shrub and is caused by a fungus known as Entomosporium mespili.   Tiny, round, red spots will appear on both sides of the leaves when infected. Fungal diseases increase in shady, humid climates, or after heavy rainfall in the spring and fall. To prevent leaf spots, it is best to use disease-resistant cultivars, provide good air circulation, plant in full sun, and use drip irrigation. Cold injury can occur in colder climates or during unseasonably cold winters.

VIDEO created by Andy Pulte for “Landscape Plant Identification, Taxonomy, and Morphology” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Courtyard Garden Coastal Foundation- Tropical
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Ballerina'
    dwarf, prostrate
  • 'Clara'
    dense, rounded shrub with white flowers, moderate leaf spot resistance
  • 'Jack Evans'
    medium size, mounding, purple foliage, deep pink flowers
  • 'Pink Cloud'
    dense, rounded shrub, pink flowers
  • 'Pinkie' or 'Enchantress'
    Dwarf form, bright pink flowers, susceptible to leaf spot
  • 'Pink Lady'
    Deep pink flowers
  • 'Snow White'
    Dwarf form, white flowers, good leaf spot resistance
'Ballerina', 'Clara', 'Jack Evans', 'Pink Cloud', 'Pinkie' or 'Enchantress', 'Pink Lady', 'Snow White'
Tags:
#fragrant#evergreen#full sun tolerant#fragrant flowers#drought tolerant#specimen#white flowers#shrub#wildlife plant#shade garden#spring flowers#winter interest#showy fruits#hedges#stream banks#fast growing#mounding#deer browsing plant#ornamentals#children's garden#foundation planting#playground plant#blue fruits#screening#pollinator plant#black fruits#fantz#evergreen shrub#nectar plant spring#bird friendly#container plant#landscape plant sleuths course
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Ballerina'
    dwarf, prostrate
  • 'Clara'
    dense, rounded shrub with white flowers, moderate leaf spot resistance
  • 'Jack Evans'
    medium size, mounding, purple foliage, deep pink flowers
  • 'Pink Cloud'
    dense, rounded shrub, pink flowers
  • 'Pinkie' or 'Enchantress'
    Dwarf form, bright pink flowers, susceptible to leaf spot
  • 'Pink Lady'
    Deep pink flowers
  • 'Snow White'
    Dwarf form, white flowers, good leaf spot resistance
'Ballerina', 'Clara', 'Jack Evans', 'Pink Cloud', 'Pinkie' or 'Enchantress', 'Pink Lady', 'Snow White'
Tags:
#fragrant#evergreen#full sun tolerant#fragrant flowers#drought tolerant#specimen#white flowers#shrub#wildlife plant#shade garden#spring flowers#winter interest#showy fruits#hedges#stream banks#fast growing#mounding#deer browsing plant#ornamentals#children's garden#foundation planting#playground plant#blue fruits#screening#pollinator plant#black fruits#fantz#evergreen shrub#nectar plant spring#bird friendly#container plant#landscape plant sleuths course
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Rhaphiolepis
    Species:
    indica
    Family:
    Rosaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    South China to Indo-China and Temp. Eastern Asia
    Distribution:
    Native: Cambodia, China South-Central and Southeast, Japan, Laos, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam Introduced: New South Wales
    Wildlife Value:
    Birds are attracted to the berries and pollinators to the nectar of the flowers. It is frequently browsed by deer.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Attracts Pollinators
    Fragrance
    Dimensions:
    Height: 4 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 4 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Mounding
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    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
    Very Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    8a, 8b, 9b, 9a, 10b, 10a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Blue
    Purple/Lavender
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Fruits are subglobose berries that are less than an inch in size and are purplish-bluish-black in color. They persist into winter.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Flowers are white and tinted pink towards the center. They are less than an inch in diameter. They have 5 petals, are obovate, clawed, and have 15-20 reddish-pink stamens. Inflorescence is a terminal, flat-topped, tomentose, open panicle up to 3" in diameter.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Whorled
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Lanceolate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are alternate, simple, elliptical to lanceolate with serrate margins, and up to 3" long. Leaves are lustrous dark green above, reticulate and dull green beneath clustered at the end of the stem. They are tinged purple in the winter and new growth is grayish-green to bronze in color.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gray/Silver
    Purple/Lavender
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    The young stems are purplish-brown, and the older stems are grayish-brown. Twigs are stout, brown, streaked with grey, and pubescent at the tip. Piths are solid and green. They have sympodial growth.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Container
    Houseplants
    Recreational Play Area
    Slope/Bank
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Foundation Planting
    Hedge
    Mass Planting
    Screen/Privacy
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Heavy Shade
    Salt
    Wind
    Problems:
    Frequent Disease Problems
    Frequent Insect Problems