Hooks Hawthorn

Hooks Hawthorn – Crataegus ‘Hooks’

color photo Hooks hawthorn in bloomHooks Hawthorn flowering May 25th, near Chicago, Illinois. This tree is 36 years old [3]

Hooks Hawthorn is a cultivar of Crataegus crusgalli (Cockspur Hawthorn) with glossy green, disease resistant foliage. It usually reaches 15 to 20 feet in height with a dense, rounded crown and spreading form. Hooks Hawthorn does have fewer thorns than cockspur. It is often listed as a hybrid between C. crusgalli and C. prunifolium [1].

color photo hooks hawthorn blossoms

Cultural requirements: Needs a well drained soil. Fairly tolerant of drought. Does best in full sun. Does not tolerate poorly drained soils.

Hooks 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 [3].

color photo red hawthorn berries against blue sky

Hawthorn berries in winter

Scientific evidence exists hawthorn fruit and flowers have medicinal properties 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’ ).


  1. Michael A. Dirr, Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification, Ornamental Characteristics, Culture, Propagation and Uses
  2. Guo R, Pittler MH, Ernst E. Hawthorn extract for treating chronic heart failure. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008, Issue 1.
  3. Hooks Hawthorn, Morton Arboretum accession 53-72-2 photos by Bruce Marlin

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