Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates light shade and drought. Moist, rich, fertile soils may encourage unwanted succulent growth. Tolerant of urban pollution.
Crataegus viridis, commonly called green hawthorn, is native to the southeastern U.S. from Virginia to Florida west to Texas and up the Mississippi River valley to Illinois. In Missouri, it primarily occurs in low wet grounds and along streams in the southeastern and southwestern parts of the state. It is a dense, rounded, largely spineless tree that typically grows 20-35’ tall with a broad spreading crown. Gray stems are clad with serrate, ovate to elliptic, glossy dark green leaves (to 3 1/2” long) that are shallowly lobed in the upper half. When present, thorns grow to 1 1/2” long. Leaves turn purple to red in fall. Fragrant, 5-petaled, white flowers in 2-inch clusters (corymbs) bloom in May. Flowers are followed by small red fruits (pomes) that ripen in September and usually persist on the tree well into winter. Fruits are technically edible, but are usually best left for the birds. The fruit is sometimes called a haw. The fruit may be harvested to make jelly. Bark on mature trunks exfoliates to reveal orange inner bark.
Genus name comes from the Greek name for the tree. From kratos meaning strength for its strong, hard wood.
Specific epithet means green.
‘Winter King’ is a popular, more disease-resistant cultivar that is noted for its profuse bloom of flowers, larger fruits, silvery-barked stems and more attractive fall color (purple and scarlet). It is one of the best hawthorns for landscape purposes. Unlike most hawthorns, this cultivar (as well as the species) is largely spineless, with only occasional small thorns (to 1.5″ long).
One of the most disease-resistant hawthorns. As with most hawthorns, there is some susceptibility to cedar hawthorn rust (rust stage where eastern red cedars are present in the area) and fireblight. Fungal leaf spots, powdery mildew, cankers and apple scab are occasional problems. Insect pests include borers, caterpillars, lacebugs, leafminers and scale.