Herbs & Plants

Crataegus crus-galli

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Botanical Name : Crataegus crus-galli
Family:    Rosaceae
Genus:    Crataegus
Series:    Crus-galli
Species:C. crus-galli
Order:    Rosales

Crataegus acutifolia Sarg.
Crataegus albanthera Sarg.
Crataegus arborea Beadle
Crataegus barrettiana Sarg.
Crataegus calophylla Sarg.
Crataegus candens Sarg.
Crataegus cherokeensis Sarg.
Crataegus consueta Sarg.
Crataegus hamata E.J.Palmer
Crataegus hannibalensis E.J.Palmer
Crataegus infera Sarg.
Crataegus leptophylla Sarg.
Crataegus limnophylla Sarg.
Crataegus ludovicensis Sarg.
Crataegus monosperma Sarg.
Crataegus pachyphylla Sarg.
Crataegus paradoxa Sarg.
Crataegus parkiae Sarg.
Crataegus permera Sarg.
Crataegus phaneroneura Sarg.
Crataegus polyclada Sarg.
Crataegus pyracanthoidesBeadle
Crataegus regalis Beadle
Crataegus rubrifolia Sarg.
Crataegus rudis Sarg.
Crataegus severa Sarg.
Crataegus strongylophylla Sarg.
Crataegus tantula Sarg.
Crataegus tardiflora Sarg.
Crataegus tenax Ashe
Crataegus tenuispina Sarg.
Crataegus truncata Sarg.

Common Names: Cockspur Thorn, Cockspur hawthorn, Dwarf Hawthorn

Habitat : Crataegus crus-galli is native to  Eastern N. America – Quebec to Georgia, west to Louisiana. Locally naturalized in Europe.  It grows in  thickets and open ground, especially in dry or rocky places. Usually found on the slopes of low hills in rich soils.

Crataegus crus-galli  is a small deciduous tree growing up to about 10 meters tall and 8 meters wide, rounded in form when young and spreading and flattening as it matures. The leaves are 5 to 6 centimeters long, glossy dark green in color and turning gold to red in the fall. The flowers are white and have a scent generally considered unpleasant. The fruits are small pomes that vary in colour, usually a shade of red. Most wild varieties of the tree are heavily armed in sharp thorns several centimeters long. This species is a popular ornamental tree, especially var. inermis, which lacks thorns. Many other wild forms would be very suitable for landscaping if better known, and yellow-fruited forms exist.


It is not frost tender. It is in flower in June, and the seeds ripen in October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Midges.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.

It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry moist or wet soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.
It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.

Landscape Uses:Border, Espalier, Pollard, Screen, Specimen, Street tree. A very easily grown plant, it prefers a well-drained moisture retentive loamy soil but is not at all fussy. Once established, it succeeds in excessively moist soils and also tolerates drought. It grows well on a chalk soil and also in heavy clay soils. A position in full sun is best when plants are being grown for their fruit, they also succeed in semi-shade though fruit yields and quality will be lower in such a position. Most members of this genus succeed in exposed positions, they also tolerate atmospheric pollution. A very hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to about -18°c. A very ornamental plant. There are many named forms, selected for their ornamental value. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. Seedling trees take from 5 – 8 years before they start bearing fruit, though grafted trees will often flower heavily in their third year. The flowers have a foetid smell somewhat like decaying fish. This attracts midges which are the main means of fertilization. When freshly open, the flowers have more pleasant scent with balsamic undertones. Seedlings should not be left in a seedbed for more than 2 years without being transplanted. This plant is often confused in cultivation with C. prunifolia. ‘Splendens’. Special Features:Attracts birds, North American native, Blooms are very showy.

Seed – this is best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame, some of the seed will germinate in the spring, though most will probably take another year. Stored seed can be very slow and erratic to germinate, it should be warm stratified for 3 months at 15°c and then cold stratified for another 3 months at 4°c. It may still take another 18 months to germinate. Scarifying the seed before stratifying it might reduce this time[80]. Fermenting the seed for a few days in its own pulp may also speed up the germination process. Another possibility is to harvest the seed ‘green’ (as soon as the embryo has fully developed but before the seedcoat hardens) and sow it immediately in a cold frame. If timed well, it can germinate in the spring. If you are only growing small quantities of plants, it is best to pot up the seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow them on in individual pots for their first year, planting them out in late spring into nursery beds or their final positions. When growing larger quantities, it might be best to sow them directly outdoors in a seedbed, but with protection from mice and other seed-eating creatures. Grow them on in the seedbed until large enough to plant out, but undercut the roots if they are to be left undisturbed for more than two years.

Edible Uses:
Fruit – raw or cooked. A dry flesh, it is used in jellies. The fruit is about 1cm in diameter and is borne in small clusters. It often persists on the tree until spring. This suggests that it does not make very good eating. There are up to five fairly large seeds in the centre of the fruit, these often stick together and so the effect is of eating a cherry-like fruit with a single seed.

Medicinal Uses:
Cardiotonic;  Hypotensive.

Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, the fruits and flowers of many hawthorns are well-known in herbal folk medicine as a heart tonic and modern research has borne out this use. The fruits and flowers have a hypotensive effect as well as acting as a direct and mild heart tonic. They are especially indicated in the treatment of weak heart combined with high blood pressure. Prolonged use is necessary for it to be efficacious. It is normally used either as a tea or a tincture.

Other Uses:
Hedge;  Hedge;  Wood.

Very amenable to trimming, the plant can even be cut right back into very old wood and will resprout freely. It is often used as a hedge. Wood – fine-grained, hard and heavy. Used for tool handles etc.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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