Showy Cockspur Hawthorn – Crataegus crus-galli var. splendens

Showy Cockspur Hawthorn
Crataegus crus-galli
 var. splendens
This thornless variety has a profusion of spring flowers and fruit that outshine older cultivars.
Showy Cockspur Hawthorn
This specimen showy cockspur hawthorn is 53 years old. Note lack of thorns (compare to: cockspur hawthorn).
Widespreading plant habit, glossy dark green foliage, showy flowers and fruit – without the dangerous thorns of its parent.
Description: Height: 15-18' / Width: 20-25'

Cockspur Hawthorn is an excellent small tree with a widespreading 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.

Cultural requirements: Needs a well drained soil. Fairly tolerant of drought. Does best in full sun. Does not tolerate poorly drained soils. although most hawthorns are highly susceptible to Cedar Rust, Cockspur Hawthorn is quite resistant. This variety appears susceptible to fire blight.

showy hawthorn bark

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' ).

Showy cockspur hawthorn foliage

June foliage shows distinct signs of fire blight, (brown, curled leaf tips) although not extensive. Fire blight is caused by a bacterium and only affects plants in the rose family. Blossoms and bark can also be damaged [4].

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 [1].

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 [1].


  1. 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
  2. Showy cockspur hawthorn, Morton Arboretum accession 409-54-1 photos © Bruce Marlin
  3. Morton Arboretum, "Fire Blight"
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Family Rosaceae – Rose Family; Fruit Trees
Many of these plants are of vital economic importance, the fruit of which contain vitamins, acids, and sugars and can be used both raw and for making preserves, jam, jelly, candy, wine, brandy, cider and other beverages.
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