Common Hawthorn tree identification

The Common Hawthorn Cretaegus monogyna is a thorny shrub or small tree. It is native to Britain and is found across Europe to Western Asia. It is also known as the Quickthorn or May. As a shrub, it is the commonest plant in farm hedgerows. It colonises open ground to form scrub and dense thickets. Small trees are found in woodlands or open country.

Common Hawthorn tree identification – small, lobed leaf, white flowers in spring, red berries in autumn and two types of thorn. The white flowers in May cover the tree and are called “May blossom”.

Hawthorn tree in May

A Common Hawthorn in blossom at the end of April.

Hawthorn leaf

The small leaf is lobed like an oak. The lobes are cut at least halfway to the midrib.

Hawthorn tree bark

The bark is cracked and the tree is thorny.

Hawthorn flower in May

The flowers come out in May shortly after the leaves. This is later than another thorny shrub the Blackthorn. The anthers are pink then turn purple. There is usually one style and the fruit has one stone

Hawthorn flowers in May

Close-up of a  flower cluster. This type of flower structure is called a corymb by botanists. The flower structure is branched.

Hawthorn berries in September

Close-up of berries in September. The small fruits are fleshy and usually have 1 stone. They are technically pomes, like Crab Apples. They are often called ‘Haws’. The word ‘haw ‘ is an old English term for a hedge.

Hawthorn thorns in winter

There are two types of thorns, those along the shoot in the bud joints and those at the end of the shoot. The thorns are about half the length of those of the Blackthorn.

Hawthorn thorns in winter

A side shoot may end in a thorn and have buds on it but the thorn itself does not have buds. This is different from the Blackthorn where most thorns have buds on them.