Native Plant of the Month: Black Hawthorn

Photo of Black Hawthorn.

Common Name: Black Hawthorn

Binomial Name: Crataegus douglasii

Soil Type: Moist to Dry

Sunlight: Full Sun to Partial Sun

Spreads/Multiples: Suckers arise from the roots (should be removed)

Plant Type: Tall Shrub/Small Tree

Foliage: Deciduous

Flowering: Yes

Photo of Black Hawthorn.

The black hawthorn is native to northern and western North America, but it is unquestionably most abundant in the Pacific Northwest.

The black hawthorn grows as a deciduous small tree or large shrub, reaching a maximum height between 9 and 30 ft tall and up to 15 ft wide. Living up to its name, the branches have sharp thorns about 2 cm long. The green, fan-shaped leaves turn beautiful shades of red in the fall.

This native has edible, dark purple‐blackish fruits called pomes up to 1 cm across, making the black hawthorn ideal for attracting wildlife, including birds and butterflies. The flowers are white with greenish centers growing in clusters near the ends of each thin branch.

Black hawthorns provide food, nesting sites, and thorny cover, making it an excellent small tree for the wildlife garden or hedgerow. It can form thickets if not maintained, which makes the wildlife happy, but not all gardeners.