Cockspur Hawthorn

Cockspur Hawthorn – Crataegus crus-galli

Cockspur hawthorn boasts lovely white flowers and an attractive spreading form. But oh, those thorns!

Cockspur Hawthorn

Cockspur Hawthorn just beginning to bloom May 25th near Chicago. This tree was planted in 1923

Cockspur Hawthorn has an attractive, wide-spreading plant habit, glossy dark green foliage, and showy flowers and fruit. Height: 15-18′ / Width: 20-25′ . An excellent small tree with a wide-spreading plant form. It has 2-3″ clusters of white flowers in spring. Fruit are a bright red, 3/4″ pome. They are produced in masses and provide excellent color in late summer and early fall. Foliage is dark green and very glossy. Typical plants of the species have many sharp, 3″ long thorns. The tree provides a distinct horizontal accent in the landscape.

Cockspur Hawthorn bark and thorns

Scientific evidence exists extract from hawthorn fruit and flowers is useful as a treatment for chronic heart failure. Ten double-blind, randomized clinical trials showed hawthorn extract, used as an adjunct to conventional treatment, to be “more beneficial than placebo” in treating 855 patients with chronic heart failure. Shortness of breath and fatigue “improved significantly” compared to placebo [2].

In plain language, “Hawthorn extract may be used as an oral treatment for chronic heart failure” although the trials did not all measure the same outcomes and several did not designate what conventional treatments the patients also received. Data obtained for meta-analysis was found “suggestive” of a benefit from hawthorn extract when used in combination with conventional treatments [2].

Hawthorn wood is dense and rot-resistant, and was used for fenceposts and other applications where a moist environment would be encountered. Hawthorn trees are noted as having magical properties in many Neolithic and medieval cultures. Superstitious people today still cling to a belief in faeries and other supernatural beings said to live in close association with the genus.  (see Wikipedia ‘Crateagus’ ).

Cockspur Hawthorn


  1. USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program, (GRIN) Crataegus pennsylvanica
  2. Plants for a Future database, ‘Crataegus pennsylvanica
  3. Guo R, Pittler MH, Ernst E. Hawthorn extract for treating chronic heart failure. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD005312. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005312.pub2
  4. Cockspur Hawthorn, Morton Arboretum accession 27-23-2 & 60-90-1 photos © Bruce Marlin

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