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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Crataegus phaenopyrum - Washington Thorn

The Washington Thorn is a great small tree. I like the leaves, the fall color and the fruit, and especially the thorns. The leaves are nice, flowers okay. Its just well behaved, and does what you wanted it to do. This is one of many hawthorns (Crataegus) that are present but its the best in my opinion.

The trees are deciduous, rounded to broadly oval tree to 25' with about the same spread. Often single stemmed but can frequently see multi-stemmed trees with a moderate growth rate. Fairly dense canopy with nice flowers, fruit and fall color. The best plantings I have seen are on Portola Drive in the median leaving Capitola and entering Live Oak. 

Nice row of trees in the fall.

The deciduous leaves are alternate, simple, ovate, 3-5 lobed with the center lobe much larger than the others. Sometimes it does not really look lobed, like the one at the bottom of this picture, while the one on the top is lobes, but maybe not like you think of lobes. Margins are serrated. Leaf color is dark green. Leaves are shinny.

This one is lobed, and look at the thorns.

Fruit are small (1/4") glossy red pomes in big clusters of a dozen or so. They are very persistent through winter. Then when ripe the birds will strip the tree in a matter of minutes.

Flowers are small, off white in clusters in June. Sort of a funky smell.

Stems are greenish brown, with prominant thorns. I love trees with thorns. These are great, can be 2-3" long and very sharp. You find the best thorns on vigorous growing stems.

Misidentification: Not sure, maybe another hawthorn. Last hawthorn to bloom, nice thorns though others have nice ones also.

Locations: Pretty common actually, you just might not notice them.

On Captiola Rd in the median leaving Capitola and entering Live Oak. Great planting, and why we need to see more of them. They run all the way to where Capitola Rd intersects with Soquel Ave.

Soquel: On Center St across from the White Church.

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