English hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), also known as single-seed or one-seed hawthorn, naturally occurs in Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia. The species has been present in the Willamette Valley for over 100 years, and is now commonly found in the area. It usually occurs in disturbed areas with moist soils, including grasslands, pasturelands, and wetlands. It also occurs in the understories of oak woodlands and other forested areas. English hawthorn is a simple, alternate, deciduous tree or shrub with deeply lobed leaves, like oak leaves. The stem has thorns up to one inch long. Flowers are white and showy. The fruit is a red drupe, and if you crush the drupe, it usually contains just one seed.
This species looks similar to Douglas or black hawthorn which is native to the Willamette Valley. However, the leaves on Douglas hawthorn are serrated with shallow lobes, unlike the deeply lobed leaves of the English hawthorn, and each fruit is black and has several seeds, rather than the single seed of the English hawthorn. English hawthorn and Douglas hawthorn are also known to interbreed. Hawthorn is an important food species for wildlife, and is primarily dispersed by birds.
Eradicating this species usually includes a combination of mechanical and chemical methods. Smaller trees or shrubs can often be removed with a weed wrench. Larger trees can be cut down and the stump painted with herbicide. There are several native species that provide good substitutes for English hawthorn and will also provide valuable food for wildlife, including: Douglas hawthorn, mock orange, western serviceberry, cascara, and elderberry.
So how can you identify
- Tree or shrub with white, showy flowers
- Stem has stiff thorns up to 1 inch long
- Leaves are alternate and deeply lobed, like oak leaves
- Fruits are small red drupes that look like berries
For more information on English hawthorn, visit this online guide: