Hawthorn, shrub belonging to the rose family. Hawthorns are native mainly to the northern hemisphere: Europe, North America, Asia and North Africa.

Also known as:

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recognize hawthorn
Hawthorn, photo: CC0 Public Domain
  • The berries of the hawthorn are not poisonous; the fruits are used in herbalism.

Hawthorn(Crataegus), shrub belonging to the rose family (Rosaceae). Hawthorns are native mainly to the northern hemisphere: Europe, North America, Asia and North Africa. There are single-style (Crataegus monogyna) and bi-style (Crataegus laevigata) hawthorns. Single-style and bi-style: the pistils of the single-style hawthorn are all the same, while the pistils of the bi-style hawthorn have two ‘styles’ (variations).
Common hawthorn is found in river valleys and calcareous soils. The blossom has an unpleasant odor. Common hawthorns can grow ten meter tall. The bi-style hawthorn grows no taller than about five meter and blooms a few weeks earlier than the single-style, smells pleasantly; the berries are red and birds love them.
As an ornamental plant, the red-flowering biennial hawthorn ‘Paul’s Scarlet’ is well known. This tree can grow about seven meter tall.
Hawthorns like a not too wet moist clay or loam soil, preferably slightly calcareous and a place in sun or semi-shade. They tolerate pruning well and are therefore often planted as hedges. Prune in winter when the hawthorns have dropped their leaves.
Hawthorns, with their spines, provide safe nesting habitat for songbirds.
Hawthorn, like pear and rowan, is susceptible to fire blight (Erwinia amylovora). As a result, many hawthorn hedges have disappeared in the vicinity of orchards. In regions with fruit crops, hawthorns may no longer be planted.


recognize larvae Social Pear Sawfly
Larvae (caterpillars) of the Social Pear Sawfly, photo: Michael Gäbler – CC BY 3.0

Late June, early July brownish webbing of + 10 cm appear between the leaves. Poop remains hang in the fabric, dark yellow caterpillars crawl around: larvae of the Social Pear Sawfly (Neurotoma saltuum).

recognize caterpillars on pear tree
Silky webs of a Little Ermel in pear tree, photo: Dennis Schuitema

Webbing with orange caterpillars among the leaves: larvae of the Little Ermel (Swammerdamia pyrella), an ermine moth.

recognize spin nests
Webbing with caterpillars of the Brown-tail moth in buckthorn, photo: David Debruyne

Large webbings with tiny caterpillars in early spring when the leaves are just sprouting or the webbing in late fall, where the caterpillars overwinter: the larvae (caterpillars) of the Brown-tail moth (Euproctis chrysorrhoea).

recognize aphids on apple tree
Colony of green apple aphids on shoots, photo: Frederik Ceyssens

Green aphids on new shoots – especially in summer. The new shoots curl through the aphids and are somewhat inhibited in growth. In early spring they are only slightly visible: Green apple aphid (Aphis pomi).

recognize Eurasian bee beetle
Eurasian bee beetle, photo: Jurgen Holvoet

The soft parts of the white flowers are eaten: Eurasian bee beetle (Trichius fasciatus).

Fungi & diseases

recognize fire blight in apples, pears
Fire blight in pear, photo: Ninjatacoshell – CC BY-SA 3.0

Blossom, leaf, branch and twig turn brown-black and shrivel, thickened spots: Fire blight (Erwinia amylovora).

Rust fungus, photo: Titico – Public Domain

Dark orange spots with brown centers on the leaves, these turn to red and grow into an orange bump: Rust fungus (Gymnosporangium clavariiforme).

recognize apple scab
Light green matte spots on leaves due to apple scab, photo: CC0 Public Domain

From light green to brown discolouring spots on the leaf, apples do not grow, get dark spots with star-shaped cracks: apple scab (Venturia inaequalis) .

Leaves take on a silvery sheen: silver leaf (Chondrostereum purpureum).


Prevent premature leaf fall due to too wet soil, which can cause roots to rot. Ensure good drainage and loosen the soil deeply.