Cockspur Hawthorn (Crus-galli)

The Cockspur Hawthorn (Crus-galli) 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 . The Cockspur Hawthorn (Crus-galli) has green foliage and inconspicuous white flowers, with an abuncance of conspicuous red fruits or seeds. The greatest bloom is usually observed in the late spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the summer and continuing until fall. Leaves are not retained year to year. The Cockspur Hawthorn (Crus-galli) has a long life span relative to most other plant species and a moderate growth rate. At maturity, the typical Cockspur Hawthorn (Crus-galli) will reach up to 30 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 30 feet.

The Cockspur Hawthorn (Crus-galli) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by bare root, container, seed. It has a moderate ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have medium vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -33°F. has high tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

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

Wildlife: It provides excellent cover and nesting sites for many smaller birds. The small fruits are eaten by many birds especially cedar waxwings, fox sparrows, and ruffed grouse; rodents and other smaller birds. White tailed deer and mule deer browse the young twigs and leaves.

Beautification: Excellent in group plantings, deciduous screens, groupings, tall barrier hedge, and seasonal accent tree.

General Characteristics

General: It is a small tree that grows twenty to thirty feet high, twenty to thirty-five feet wide; with wide-spreading, horizontal, thorny branches. Leaves are broadest above or near the middle, thick, leathery, shiny dark green above, usually not lobed, and smooth. Flowers ranging from white to red are produced in clusters. Fruits are broadest above the middle or rounded, dull red or green.

Required Growing Conditions

Cockspur hawthorn grows from southern Quebec, and Ontario to northern Louisiana, Alabama and northwestern Georgia, and west to Kansas.

Adaptation Although Cockspur hawthorn generally requires no special soil requirements, it prefers a moist, well-drained, slightly acid soils, and full sunlight. It is adaptable to poor soils; various soil pHs, compacted soils, drought, heat and winter salt spray. Adapted to USDA Hardiness Zone 4.

Cultivation and Care

Propagation from Seed or Grafting: Cockspur hawthorn can be propagated by seeds or by stem cuttings grafted onto seedling rootstock. Propagation using seeds requires acid scarification for two to three hours followed by three months warm stratification and another three months prechilling. Seeds are planted in drill rows eight to twelve inches apart and covered with 1/4 inch of soil.

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

Grafts are budded on seedling understock in August and September.

General Upkeep and Control

Seedlings develop taproot thus should not be kept in seedbeds longer than one year. Balled and burlapped trees should be planted in early spring. If transplanted in autumn, amend soil, fertilize, water thoroughly, mulch adequately and avoid winter salt spray. 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.

Pest and Potential Problems Cedar hawthorn rust affects the fruit, foliage and stems. Potential pests include leaf blotch minor.

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Moderate
General Type Tree, Shrub
Growth Period Spring, Summer
Growth Duration Perennial
Lifespan Long
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.
Commercial Availability Routinely Available
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Late Spring
Displays Fall Colors Yes
Shape/Growth Form Single Stem
Drought Tolerance High
Shade Tolerance Intolerant
Height When Mature 30
Vegetative Spread None
Flower Color White
Flower Conspicuousness Yes
Fruit/Seed Abundance High
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Summer Fall
Seed Spread Rate Moderate
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Bare Root, Container, Seed
Moisture Requirements Low
Cold Stratification Required Yes
Minimum Temperature -33
Soil Depth for Roots 24
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Resprout Ability Yes
Responds to Coppicing No
Growth Requirements
pH Range 4.5–7.2 pH
Precipitation Range 24–24 inches/yr
Planting Density 300–1200 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Coarse, Fine, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 24
Minimum Frost-Free Days 90 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance None
CaCO3 Tolerance High
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Palatability Medium
Fire Resistant No
Causes Livestock Bloating None

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