Black Hawthorn (Douglasii)

The Black Hawthorn (Douglasii) is generally described as a perennial tree or shrub. This is native to the U.S. (United States) has its most active growth period in the spring and summer and fall . The Black Hawthorn (Douglasii) has green foliage and inconspicuous white flowers, with a moderate amount of conspicuous black fruits or seeds. The greatest bloom is usually observed in the mid spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the spring and continuing until fall. Leaves are not retained year to year. The Black Hawthorn (Douglasii) has a moderate life span relative to most other plant species and a moderate growth rate. At maturity, the typical Black Hawthorn (Douglasii) will reach up to 25 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 15 feet.

The Black Hawthorn (Douglasii) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by bare root, container, cuttings, seed. It has a moderate ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have high vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -29°F. has low tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Erosion Control: Because it tolerates a wide variety of sites, black hawthorn can be planted to stabilize banks, for shelterbelts, and for erosion control along ditches and highways.

Timber: Although the wood is hard and strong, it has no commercial value except for tool handles and other small items.

Wildlife: It provides abundant food and cover for game birds such as the blue and sharp-tailed grouse. The mule deer, small mammals and other wildlife species feed on the leaves and twigs of young seedlings or trees. Livestock readily eats its leaves if accessible.

Beautification: Ideal for biological barriers between recreational areas and physical structures.

General Characteristics

It is a large shrub or small tree that can grow to thirty-five feet tall, with straight, strong but few thorns ranging from 0.5 to 1 inch long. Stems are usually clustered from the base or from a point just above the ground surface. Leaves are smooth, long, broad, dark green, shiny, and serrated at the tip. Flowers are globe-shaped and in small clusters produced in the spring. Its fruits are dark reddish-purple to black.

Required Growing Conditions

Crataegus douglasii, black hawthorn, is widespread in the Pacific Northwest, from southeastern Alaska south through British Columbia to northern California.

Adaptation Black hawthorn generally occurs on deep, moist, fine-textured soils, at lower elevations ranging from 2,200–5,400 ft. Although it will succeed in partial shade and different soil types, it grows best in full sunlight with sufficient moisture levels. It is predominantly an understory species and seldom found in pure stands. It is fire tolerant and will re-sprout and produce suckers following fire disturbance.

Cultivation and Care

Propagation from Seed or Grafting: Black hawthorn can be propagated by either seeds or grafting. To increase percent germination, seeds require acid scarification for 0.5 to 3 hours, followed by 84 to 112 days of cold treatment. Seeds are planted early in the fall, in drill rows 8 to 12 inches apart and covered with 1/4 inch of soil. Seedlings must not be kept in the nursery longer than a year. Approximate seed per pound: 22,600.

Containerized trees should be planted when they are no more than eight feet tall, in the fall or spring. Balled and burlapped trees should be planted in early spring.

Grafting on seedling stock of Crataegus oxyacantha or Crataegus monogyna is best carried out in the winter to early spring.

General Upkeep and Control

Because it develops long taproot it should not be kept in seedbeds more than one year. Pruning should be done in the winter or early spring in order to maintain a clear shoot leader on young trees and/or remove the weakest branches to allow more light to pass through. Suckers or stems arising from the roots should be removed when they become noticeable. Limited agriculture/livestock can help maintain and protect black hawthorn thickets as important source of food and cover for wildlife.

Pest and Potential Problems Although pests and diseases seldom affect it, it is susceptible to fireblight, cedar-hawthorn rust, cedar-quince rust, leaf blight, fruit rot, and leaf spot.

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Moderate
General Type Tree, Shrub
Growth Period Spring, Summer, Fall
Growth Duration Perennial
Lifespan Moderate
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.
Commercial Availability Routinely Available
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Mid Spring
Displays Fall Colors Yes
Shape/Growth Form Thicket Forming
Drought Tolerance Low
Shade Tolerance Intermediate
Height When Mature 25
Vegetative Spread Moderate
Flower Color White
Flower Conspicuousness Yes
Fruit/Seed Abundance Medium
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Spring Fall
Seed Spread Rate Moderate
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Bare Root, Container, Cuttings, Seed
Moisture Requirements High
Cold Stratification Required Yes
Minimum Temperature -29
Soil Depth for Roots 12
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Resprout Ability Yes
Responds to Coppicing Yes
Growth Requirements
pH Range 6.5–7.5 pH
Precipitation Range 16–16 inches/yr
Planting Density 200–1000 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Coarse, Fine, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 12
Minimum Frost-Free Days 120 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance None
CaCO3 Tolerance Low
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Palatability High
Fire Resistant No
Causes Livestock Bloating Low

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database,
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA